One of the entertainers I most admire in the world just followed me on Twitter. This is someone who not only makes me laugh but whose world view and attitude, and the philosophical underpinnings that drive them, inspire me. Someone on my shortest list of people I’d want to have dinner with. I got a quick ego boost when I saw his name pop up, an even bigger one when I saw how few people he follows. But then, the moment I next went to tweet, dread set in.
What if I lose him, I thought? What if he followed me because he liked one Vine he saw, that Penn retweeted, but then, if he sees a ramen tweet, or if a joke about The Knicks falls flat, maybe he’s gone.
When he wasn’t following me, fine. He didn’t know who I was, didn’t connect me with my movies, whatever.
But now, now that he’s in, I face rejection. And not just garden variety rejection. Narrow, specific rejection from someone I put on a pedestal. How am I supposed to deal with that?
Guess I’ll never tweet.
Or I’ll really workshop the next tweet.
Maybe, yeah, this is it, I’ll test market the tweet, send it as a Facebook status first or email it to a few friends. And then, if a high enough percentage of them laugh, I’ll tweet it.
That’s definitely a way to go. Crafty. Safe.
And absolutely crippling. My entire creative journey has been about writing without fear, expressing myself without regard for what any one person will think of it. I get an idea, work on it to the best of my ability and fire away. And yet here I found myself, ready to tweet something–a tweet, mind you, something so small, insignificant and temporary as to barely exist–and holding back.
And isn’t that something we all do to ourselves sometimes. Don’t we all sort of set ourselves up for defeat, tell ourselves disempowering stories, hesitate out of fear? I think we do. And I think one of the most important steps an artist can take is to get to a place where s/he’s not scared of losing her audience.
The person you’re scared to lose might be your wife or your father if you finished that short story you have hidden in a secret folder on your laptop, or those guys sitting in the front at the comedy club who will laugh at your dick jokes but might boo you if you get political. Or maybe you’re worried that if the YA audience knew you really wanted to write thrillers, they’d never read you again.
Whatever. Whomever. Fuck ’em. They will go on the ride with you or they won’t. But the ride is yours. And the time is now.
As for me: I’ll tweet away. And if he unfollows, he unfollows. I won’t shed a tear (but I will curse. Very loudly).