Roger von Oech, an expert on the creative process, claims every artist must wear four hats on during the creative process. First, you must become The Explorer and actively observe the world around you. Then you become The Creator and create our own little world. Next, you must become The Judge and ruthlessly evaluate your work until it becomes the best it can be. Finally, you must become The Warrior and champion you work until be becomes seen, or gets a buyer, or whatever your ultimate goal is for the work.
I’m not going to lie: I enjoy the Warrior hat the least. I don’t enjoy the self-promotion and rejection that inevitably comes with being a warrior. Went to a writers conference last year and found myself envying the novice writers who exuberantly shoved their business cards and flyers into chest pockets. I coveted the obliviousness of the Juice Plus saleswoman who lacked all social boundaries and crashed the convention to sell her product. Yes, I was annoyed when she wormed her way into dinner I had with some authors. But she definately had her warrior hat on.
I was spoiled as new author. I sold three books to traditional publishers without writing a book proposal. Twice the editors approached me. The time I did the initiating, the electronic handshake was had within three rounds of informal emailing.
Three books without a warrior kill.
That’s not healthly for this artist, I don’t believe. In The Most Important Happening there is a character who visits a pharmacultical company that boasts the ability to remove any unwanted thing a person might have: Anxiety, fear, fat, a painful memory, grief. She chooses to have her inoperable cancer removed. The result is catastrophic. She lives cancer free but is filled with paranoia that the cancer might return (the company only offers one remove per customer) that she stopped being a responsive mother. Her child later lamented, “You can’t extricate wrong. You can’t rub it out with an eraser or whish it out or yank it out with a chain. Wrong must be needed out. Slowly, persistently, intentionally, painfully. It’s go to be worked out like a muscle wedged between vertebrae.”
Art unseen is also wrong. By its very definition art demands audience. And like the mother’s tumor, it needs to be worked out slowly, for the sake of the artist’s soul. Perhaps its the passion of the artist to fight for the merit of his or her work that causes other to turn their head an take notice.
So it’s time grab a goofy Viking cap, strap it on, and go to war.