many of you are aware that i walked away from a 30-year career in journalism last summer in order to concentrate full-time on my own writing and painting. the latest step in this ongoing creative process is the construction of lauriemacfayden.com — a website devoted to my visual art.
it’s been a weird evolution for me. ask anyone in my family and they’ll tell you i was a painfully shy girl growing up. shy, and intensely private. i used to hide in my room when company — even relatives — came to our door because i didn’t want to have to talk to anybody. school assignments that involved public speaking almost paralyzed me. piano recitals (ugh) would have me sweating buckets weeks in advance.
it took the better part of three decades, but somewhere along the line i seem to have gotten over most of that. i now feel totally comfortable reading at open-mic stages and poetry festivals, and have almost gotten used to seeing my paintings on view in public spaces (although, oddly, hanging my art up on display, in relative anonymity, has proven to be much more gut-wrenchingly stressful than reading to a room full of strangers potentially armed with insults, tomatoes or, worse, indifference).
almost a year ago i started this blog, a step i felt would help me become more comfortable with the idea of exposing my writing and arty bits to a wider audience. the catch-22 there is that the wider audience (which all artists/writers desire, right?) leaves the artist more vulnerable. by inviting more people to pay attention to your work, you are opening the door to more criticism of your work. you may believe you can handle it, only to discover that criticism can be unwelcome, unpleasant, unfair, scary, destructive, demoralizing, and all of the above. obviously the more public you go, the thicker your skin needs to be. that’s a given; otherwise your tender artist’s psyche may collapse under the strain … forcing you to retreat back to the comfort of anonymity (not to mention poverty. thank you, stephen harper.)
i wasn’t sure whether i would stay with the blog after the honeymoon euphoria of the first few posts wore off. but i started getting a few regular readers, a few comments … and now i have had more than 5,300 views on this little spatherdab entity. i realize that’s not a lot — there are celebrity bloggers out there who get thousands of hits per day. but for me, a little goes a long way. it is very satisfying to receive a comment from someone i don’t know and will probably never meet, from, say, texas or glasgow, telling me they love a poem they found on my blog, or that they really like a certain painting i’ve shown online. but it can also be disconcerting to get e-responses from people claiming to be fans of poetry who have clearly missed the point and really just want to rant or argue with you; or overly enthusiastic strangers wanting to get a little too chummy; or unsavory entrepreneurs whose ulterior motive is to link your page to their international house of spam.
vulnerability factor aside, i think i’m going to enjoy having my very own dotcom page.
do check it out if you have time. feedback is always welcome.
as long as you aren’t trying to sell me auto insurance.