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  • Writer's pictureTsunami Hee Ja

Highly Malleable

I'm really sorry if this upsets anyone...

This year I really felt like I was making some progress with my creative anxiety, but I've come into contact with some stuff lately via the social media that has definitely rattled my confidence a bit. It seems to be an increasingly common occurrence that I will enjoy something that's been put into the world by another creative and then days later read an article (or absolute dumpster-fire of a comments thread) about all the ways that it sucks. Of course people are entitled to not like things, and certainly they are within their rights to point out problematic issues, but I'm increasingly terrified of being personally attacked any time I do anything. Part of the reason my comics tend towards self-introspection is because I don't feel confident tackling any other subject matter for fear of making mistakes or being vilified... And you are welcome to call me a coward for that, but as someone who has actually been vilified in person (and violently so I might add), I politely accept your criticism and simply ask that your observations not escalate into an internet flame war for somebody else to read and feel anxious about. It's probably a very entitled thing to hope for, but I would like to believe that it is possible to disagree with something without being completely outraged when outrage is not required. Do artists have a responsibility to try and be aware of their subject matter, be thoughtful and considerate of their fellow human beings? Of course I think so, but does the audience also have a responsibility to accept that an artist is still human and will inevitably make mistakes? And that no one but a work's creator can know their own heart when they make the thing? When an artist's work is well-intentioned yet not well received, how much abuse should they fairly expect? A lot from what I've seen, and I suppose that is the cost of our freedom to share... My conclusion has been that if you have an anxiety disorder, it pays to tread lightly. To be prepared to shape yourself into the least offensive version of yourself you can be and therefore hopefully attract the least amount of hatred from random strangers. Self-expression is necessarily limited to the safe and mundane. If I'm being honest, it makes me feel pretty spineless, but I'm working on trying to overcome my self-doubt and genuinely hope to be braver in the future. My heroes are those creatives that can stand up and speak out about the issues they believe in and are passionate about through their craft - or just make stuff without anxiety because they love it. In either case, I have a long way to go yet... So for now, expect more flaky half-baked navel gazing and stories about my cats. If I'm lucky, perhaps some of it will even be relatable. I'm sure I'm not the only meek person with a pencil aspiring to cultivate a thicker skin, so until we get there, hugs and high-fives to you all. Regards, Tsunami.

PS. Yes, before anyone says it, I have read "Big Magic". It was great, but I am still generally terrified of everything.

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