Even though this is a pep talk about both the benefits and perils of romanticising your “early days” as an artist and/or writer, I’m going to have to start by talking about my own “early days” for a while.
There’s a reason for this (as well as an uplifting message at the very end of this article too) and I’m not just writing about it for the sake of self-pity or anything like that.
A while back, I was looking through my DeviantART gallery for one of my old pictures, when I started to notice some of the art that I’d made back in 2012 just after I’d decided that I’d produce at least one picture per day.
At first, I laughed because it was hilariously terrible compared to my modern stuff and it made me wonder why I’d stuck at it for so long and seen myself as an “artist”, when I was producing things like this on a regular basis:
Then I remembered the feeling of carefree joy that I had when I made art every day back then, when it was still a “new” thing to me. I remembered the optimism and joy I felt when I produced each picture and how I’d often eagerly produce 2-5 small drawings every day. And then I felt kind of sad since, although I still really enjoy making art – it doesn’t quite hold the fascination that it did back then.
The same is true, to a lesser extent, with the art that I produced early this year – when watercolour pencils were still a new art medium to me and I was still fascinated by the idea of being a “painter”.
Back then, I was keen to copy old paintings, to paint from life and to see watercolour painting as something “special” rather than “ordinary”. Some of you might remember this, but it was the time when I produced stuff like this:
It really was a truly magical time in some ways.
But, when I’m not feeling confident about my current art, it’s easy to look back at the art I produced during those early months and think things like “Wow! I’ve really got worse since then!“. Of course, I also tend to ignore all of the fairly mediocre and/or crappy paintings that I also made back then – like this one:
And don’t even get me started on my writing – I tend to think that I peaked as a fiction writer back in 2008 -10 and that it’s been downhill ever since. Although, saying that, I used to write fiction far more regularly back then than I do now. So, there might actually be some truth to this.
So, why are any of these melancholic introspective ramblings relevant to you?
Well, if you’re writing fiction regularly or taking yourself seriously as an artist and practicing regularly, then it can be easy to get nostalgic about your early days. And this isn’t a bad thing, after all – it can help you to feel better about yourself as a writer and/or artist, if you have your own “personal mythology” and can categorise your work based on when it was produced.
I don’t know why, but it can make you feel like a historian or an expert on your own work. It can help you to feel closer to the more well-known artists or writer that you aspire to be like, by having a history and a list of works like they do. It can help you to rehearse the interesting stories about your “early days” that you will tell interviewers when you eventually become “well-known” or whatever.
In emotional terms, romanticising your “early days” isn’t a bad thing. However, it isn’t always an entirely good thing either. This is because you can sometimes end up looking down on all of your current work, because it doesn’t live up to the rose-tinted “perfection” of your old stuff. But, I’ll let you in on a secret.
In a couple of years time, you’ll probably start getting nostalgic about what is now your current work. I mean, back in 2012, I used to worry that my art wasn’t as great as the art that I produced on an irregular basis back in 2010 and 2011. So, why is this relevant?
Well, in case you haven’t guessed already, this means that you will end up getting nostalgic about the things that you are making right now. In a few months or years, you’ll look back to now and think “Wow! Those were my glory days!.” And so on and so on….
So, if you ever worry that your art or writing doesn’t have the quality or “energy” that it used to, just remember that – in the future – you’ll think exactly the same thing about this moment in time. It’s just like something from this classic Iron Maiden song.
In other words, you’re in the middle of your “glory days” right now! Enjoy it 🙂
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂