4 Jun 2014

ISWG: Joining in can be hard

I have decided to participate in this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group and have written or attempted to write about how the arts/creative industries are very insecure places and a few reasons why I think this based on my own personal experiences.

At some time around the end of 2010 I stumbled upon the website of HitRECord, this is a collaborative production company set up by the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who from this moment forward shall be referred to as Jo-Go), at the time he had recorded a short video where he spoke about the reasons for the project and what he hoped to achieve by it in both the short and long term.

Since then HitRecord.org has gone from strength to strength and you can see by how much in the clip below:

I didn’t contribute any records during my time on the site, and I didn't participate in the forums, and this was for two very different reasons; identifying with the arts and hypocrisy.

At the time, I wasn't writing and I hadn't begun blogging either, and I was still very much firmly rooted in the sciences and that mentality. Thinking back now I wonder if this was that pivotal moment, I didn't feel able to contribute to the project and eventually decided to explore craft related blogs and subsequently set up my own: Momuboocrea Island, it may have been the moment when I decided I wanted to play with the other kids but had no toys to share with them.

I didn't contribute. Don’t get me wrong, I did want to contribute, I just didn't feel able to at the time  and I was also annoyed by some of the attitudes I noticed in the community (purely my issue and not theirs).

So, back to 2010, and the main reason I didn't contribute was because I didn't feel that I had anything to contribute. I looked at the work of those who were contributing and at the time they were what I considered to be ‘proper’ arty people, those who had spent their lives drawing or dancing or singing or writing, these were the people who came out of the womb knowing that they wanted to create and in which medium they wanted to do that in. Or at least to me that was how it seemed and I felt like a fraud, just waiting for someone to say ‘You don’t belong here’.

This is something that contributes to insecurity issues and that feeling that you're an impostor. It is something that I have felt rather strongly since I have attempted to be a part of the writing community. I am aware that my apprehension could also have contributed to this in both cases too.

So in 2010 again, and although, Jo-Go’s updates were warm and welcoming, and forum messages/feedback to others was always very encouraging and supportive (for the most part) it still felt to me (as a non-artiste) to be very clicky and reminiscent of a first day in a new job in an industry you know nothing about, where you want to be involved but you have no resource bank to draw from or knowledge about what’s going on and I found this to be quite intimidating and I was crippled by it at that point in time.

Writer groups also have this dynamic, but as my confidence in my writing has grown I do feel more comfortable, but that feeling of being outside the window looking in is still there.

Where were we? Oh yes, 2010, and there was another aspect that made me apprehensive about contributing, and this was that the few animations, videos etc. that had been completed at that time were very much in a particular style. I don’t know if this is still the case but I am very much the type of person who is comfortable in mainstream design with original ideas and they seemed to have a very ‘art student’ style with kooky ideas. The end product was good but I knew then that I wouldn't be able to create something that would fit with this image that they had developed and I guess I quite before I started. Even in retrospect I know that had I been writing at that time, my stories or poetry would not be a good fit, and it’s a shame as I would have liked to have been involved.

This is also something that I have noticed when reading the works of writers in certain groups and especially in some of the flash fiction competitions, that they have a collective taste/style and I don’t feel that I can emulate that enough to fit in.

Now, a big reason that I wanted to be involved in HitRECord was because I believe that we are all equal, and all our ideas are worthy of being seen/heard, and I liked the idea of open creative resources. This idea appealed to me and still does. And a big reason as to why I want to be involved in writing groups is because I think there is so much knowledge and inspiration that can be shared and doesn't necessarily require my input in order for me to feel involved or to benefit/learn from it and I feel that now, 18 months on, I have something more to offer.

The second reason that I was put off HitRECord was to do with the forums, and some of the comments that were made to people who were using them, which I found to be unnecessary.

You see, I am sure that when Jo-Go founded the production company he was aware of his public image and his popularity at that time, and there is no doubt in my mind that he was the face of the organisation in order to raise awareness and to get people to contribute.

However, a few people would join and then post a message of mush about how much they loved Jo-Go and his work on the forum, and some of the existing members saw it as their duty to reprimand them and this I believe was wrong. These people may have come to the site because of Jo-Go but they may stay because of its ethos and because of their talents and what they could offer. I regularly saw a comment along the lines of ‘if you have come here just because you think it will get you close to Joe then you need to leave now as you are sorely mistaken’ although they said this rather more crudely. I think it was naive of them to say that and to their detriment, as how did they find out about the site originally? Oh what’s that? Through Jo-Go’s twitter feed? Fanclub? Etc. I hate hypocrisy.

Writers groups differ in this matter, generally speaking, and the writers always seem very supportive to one another, my only apprehension is that its all lip service and nothing more. I wish there was a forum or group where people provided constructive criticism or feedback that panders less to ego but supports and encourages instead. If you know of one that exists and accepts slightly cynical newbies then let me know!

What I am trying to say is that everyone has to start somewhere and whether it’s at 5 years old or 50 years old its value isn't any less. Share your ideas and don’t be intimidated by others. Don’t intimidate others. Remember that your ideas are as good as the next persons and opinions are individual and a negative comment shouldn't be taken as a personal vendetta against you. Turn all negativity around. Embrace the positive. But most importantly, write because it makes you happy and fake it till you make it! 

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