Hiding my greatest art

I haven’t eagerly anticipated reading a newly released business book in, well, ever. Until now. Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception just showed up on my doorstep– early!

The inspiring back cover text includes the following:

If you’ve announced that you have no talent (in anything), then you’re hiding.

I announced this in a way yesterday. I’ve been in university for two years as of right now, and I’m two-thirds of the way to my first Bachelor’s degree (at 44). My coursework has involved many independent studies wherein I’ve been writing books, seeing which types flow more naturally.

A funny thing happened along the way. Fiction, nonfiction and business books all seem to flow equally well out of my mind into compelling works. The encouragement from professors and evaluators has been pretty amazing at times.

Initially, I told myself it was their job to provide encouragement, so their words may have lacked real value. That’s just a story I told myself so I could keep hiding. We make up our own value based on what we trust and choose to invest ourselves in.

Yesterday, as I wrote a summary of what I learned while starting the marketing of a nonfiction book, I hid. I reeled, dodged and complained. I barked at how I disliked the ideas proposed for marketing my book, and whined that I may never be published. Of course, I know that will absolutely ring true if I keep hiding.

Hiding is easy. I can write my way into a box within a box within a box faster than I could ever have thought possible. But I can also abolish those boxes with one spark.

Hiding allows us to avoid what must be done. It’s how I avoid risk, even though I love the idea of risk-taking. It’s far easier to hide than to expose my art to the world.

Of course, I have some experience showing my art on a wide scale too, but always under the veil of creative work. (In fact, it’s fair to say that millions of people have seen my art.) It’s easier to unleash the art when it’s backed by strategic goals and paid for. But it feels less like art then, even if art is work.

For 21 years, I’ve been writing song after song and throwing them in a box or a folder. I have something like 700 or more of them. I always said I wouldn’t sell my songs because I wanted to sing them myself. I’m hiding those too.

Hurry—art expires!
Art, passion and ideas often come equipped with an expiration date. Ideas fueled by passion lose their steam when the energy behind them is extinguished. Left in hiding long enough, virtually any idea can become obsolete or come to fruition in the hands of someone more motivated or open.

Given the same generational influences, similarly inspired interpretations are likely to occur in multiple minds. Think how many artists performed anti-apartheid pieces in the 1980’s to push for change, and how likely were the chances of widespread recognition then versus now. (Awareness of the issue has already been raised; art about it saturated.) Not hiding – trusting and performing is urgent. And the world needs your art now (fairly certain I’m channeling Seth with that).

Hiding is not easier
I read books. Real books, on paper, hardbound, softcover, books I can turn tactile pages in, feel their texture, read the crisply printed letters. I read full books, cover to cover. I dislike the idea of reading what amounts to sound bites on a tablet with 50,000 other books ready to distract me should I momentarily lose focus, because it’s my experience that reading any other way leaves me with a lack of context for grasping the most important messages (and the smaller things that may just connect with my mind).

When I was advised to pursue publishing my work first in digital format, I sprinted into hiding. I can do what I’ve always done, right? Write it and put it aside. It seemed like the easy thing to do, but in truth it was the hardest path, leveling the worst feeling, like a hangover anchored by a battleship. All this rapid progress I’ve made in school, all these books written, ideas explored, art expressed—hidden safely away, instantly.

Trusting and performing is harder, but that time is now. Hiding time is over.

P.S. Thanks to Seth Godin for the push. Can’t wait to read the cream filling.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

Thank you! This is going to feel good.

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