Monday, May 23, 2011

Fear of Flaws

May & June: Observations on Art & Fear

My best friend since 15, Hollie Hunt, actress and director
Last week I shared about my fears around taking up two new creative pursuits, African dancing and mosaic making. I remember encountering these same fears and doubts twelve years or so ago, when I moved to NYC to become an actor but instead found myself as a writer. This happened as it was meant to happen. I am not an actor, or as my best friend said, “Some actors can write but they are not writers and some writers can act but they are not actors. You, Bethany, are a writer—not an actor.”

Ah, I am glad I heard those words—as hard as they were to hear at the time. Hollie was right. I am a writer, not an actor. It is now what  I have dedicated my life to—to telling stories, and to helping others find and tell the stories inside them. It feels right and it always felt right, if I am honest with myself. That is why I think being a writer is a calling for me. 
But not everything creative is a calling. I don’t expect myself to learn African dance and have it be anything other than good cardiovascular exercise, a way for me to move my body, and experience the story of dance in a way that I haven’t yet experienced story. I don’t expect to become a major mosaic artist but I would like to see how my brain takes shards and pieces and fragments of things—mirrors, or ceramics, or wood and pieces them back together again.

I have been broken before and I will be broken again. It is only by encountering and interacting with my flaws do I feel whole.
Bayles & Orland say in Art & Fear,

“If you think good work is somehow synonymous with perfect work you are headed for big trouble. Art is human, error is human, ergo, art is error. Inevitably, your work, (like, uh, the preceding syllogism) will be flawed. Why? Because you are a human being, and only human beings, warts and all make art. “ (29).

Ugh, these series of blog posts are going to end with me having met my creative fears head on, aren’t they? Ok, I am human, I will wrestle with my fears—maybe I will even dance with them.


  1. I am glad you are a writer. (and could Holly be any more gorgeous??)

  2. She's more gorgeous in person! Gosh, I miss my friend!