An Artist’s Gratitude

Every year when I spend Thanksgiving with my family, we go around the table and say what we’re grateful for, and every year I say the same thing: that I am grateful for my family.

I am surrounded by people who inspire me and want me to succeed, who ask me constantly how my work is coming along even if I’m a little (okay, a lot) shy about talking about it. And that makes it easier to get up every day and fight the resistance and create my work.

Of all the things I have, they are nothing without my family and the people who love and support me. The people who sit at that table and stand in my corner are more than enough.

I regret to say that I don’t think about this nearly as often as I should. Throughout the year I am so preoccupied with word counts and metrics and one rep maxes that I get distracted from what really matters.

Thanksgiving is a day to acknowledge the gifts we have and how they enrich our lives. In their eagerness to create their work and have it seen, artists can overlook those gifts. They want more when doing the work is enough.

As a writer and creator on the Interwebs, the business constantly tells me that the numbers are what matter, that the metrics and the views and the likes and the impressions matter above all else.

The numbers say something, for sure, but they don’t last. Watching the numbers is like a drug. I experienced this when my shit blew up on Medium not too long ago. I watched the views go up into the hundreds and then the thousands. I felt the burst of dopamine, and each time I looked at my stats, I craved more. A post that I vomited up with no thought at all got me a lot of attention, something that turned out to be a game-changer for me.

But I knew that at some point the numbers would plateau and slow down. Popular Things On The Internet are very short-lived. I was grateful that the post was getting so much attention, but those kinds of numbers were not something I could chase. I had to let go and move on to creating meaningful work.

Trends and algorithm’s change. Creating meaningful work doesn’t.

It’s liberating to create this way. All that matters is creating something authentic and real and that makes this world better than when you came into it. When you do that, the numbers don’t much really, and you’re happy simply from doing something you find interesting, challenging, compelling, and meaningful.

What a magnificent life I have where I can make things. What a gift it is when, occasionally someone says, “Hey Jane, that thing was pretty awesome”, and then I go on to make more things. This is what fills my heart and feeds my soul.

Less and less do I take for granted the things that I do have. I have family and the ability to make art. I have the incredible feeling that comes with making art and people who want me to make it and are my biggest cheerleaders. Having that, I want for little else. This is enough.

Photo Credits: From Unsplash, by Laura Kranz

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