Every artist is a storyteller.
Through the use of words, music or other media, the artist seeks to present a public narrative of an inner life. Every time we present our art, a new chapter is opened. It’s a simultaneously invigorating and intimidating existence that can make us sensitive to how our stories are perceived by others. If we’re not careful, we can become very self-conscious.
It’s important to remember that our story isn’t the only one being told.
There are other stories that intertwine with our own. The composer, the other musicians on the stage, the owner of the venue, and the sound person all become characters in the story. Even the guy in the front row that isn’t quite listening has a role. As we interact with others, our stories begin to reflect the world around us.
That’s why we can’t focus on our story alone. Rather, we should see ourselves as anthologists.
An anthology is a collection of stories that may or may not be related. Once collected and combined, they become part of a whole that is greater than each story would be on its own. Therefore, if we are in the business of collecting stories, we should spend more time listening to and learning the stories of those around us.
That’s why your relationships are a key component of your creativity.
The depth of your artistic connection can be traced to the depth of your relationships. The people in your world become a part of you, and when you sing, perform or present, you are helping to tell their stories as well.
The deeper your connections, the more complete and accurate your anthology will be. If you’ve shared painful moments, you’ll be able to express them honestly. If you’ve shared moments of joy, you can relive those moments again and again.
For the artist, relationship building isn’t optional; it’s a necessity. If you feeel you are becoming obsessed with your own story, make understanding and loving those around you a priority. When you make their stories your own, you’ll always have something important to say.
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