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Reflected Arrows 1974 Jeffrey Smart

Why does my continual low opinion of my writing surprise me, as though I’m the only one who’s ever felt this way? How ridiculous. Jeffrey Smart, an artist whose work I love, was interviewed on Talking Heads tonight and said this about a retrospective of his work, “when i look over them, I see a series of disasters. I feel I’m going to paint my best work…soon.”

He’s 81 and recently sold a painting for something like $900,000!

Then there’s Andrew Bird, a brilliant musician who wrote recently on the Measure for Measure blog,

I listened to my record recently and I’m concerned about how much I like it. This has never happened to me at this stage of making a record. Right about now is usually when I want to scrap the whole thing and start over. In fact, scrapping whole records has become par for the course for me when recording.

I’m not saying that “oh well if other artists think they suck it’s okay to think I suck”. I don’t think I suck. I know there is value in my work, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to being frustrated to tears by it. I guess there’s a disparity between accepting that my writing is decent and whether I think anyone else will like it or get something out of it. I like people to read my stuff, but at the same time I’m terrified that people will think I am my work, that they will weigh it in the balance and find it wanting, and by extension will find me wanting.

I think the only thing to do is accept that an artist of any sort is going to feel negative about their stuff, and I guess that can be amplified if you tend towards low self-esteem anyway. It doesn’t make sense, and it might seem self-indulgent, but it’s just how it is. I just have to accept that and move on through it, reminding myself that I am not my work and finding joy in it.