Who do you protect your art from? (And at which stage?)

I was just talking about this with a fellow artist, and realized that it was a complete blog post, and not a mere tweet.

My favorite metaphor for a new creative project is a seedling.

Photographer: Suzannah S. from Planet Natural

Most of us have done the project at some point – poking little seeds into pods of soil in an old egg carton. You water it, and keep it near a window until tiny sprouts appear. At this point, they are usually a twig with one or two leaves, and they all look basically the same. Foetal plants just starting to grow.

Over a few days they get bigger, stronger, their leaves differentiate, and they are less bowled over by a drizzle of water from a watering can.  Eventually, they are sturdy enough to transplant into small pots, or even into the waiting earth outside.

I don’t like to share my art until the projects are able to be planted in the ground and able to bear fruit and seeds of their own. Even then, I’ve put so much of myself into my art, that I’m still a little hesitant about sharing it.

At that seedling phase, though, that little foetal idea, that’s when it’s the most vulnerable. It’s filled with the most hope, the most promise, and the most energy.  But that’s when it can be washed away by overzealous watering (“Is your project done yet? Can I read it?”), blown away with a gust of wind (“I read something like that just last week. That’s an old idea. It’s been done before.”) or trampled on by a careless foot (“Don’t quit your day job!”).

I’ve got a few projects right now that are at that phase. An egg carton’s worth of seedlings.

Have you got any projects you’re not sharing with anyone yet? Have you learned hard lessons about protecting your art?

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