Questioning Isn’t a Lack of Confidence

Katie and I live in a climate where the weather not only changes from day-to-day, but can vary throughout the day. Before we go out, we have to look at what it’s like outside now, but also how it’s going to be while we’re out, and what it will be like later when we’re coming home. It’s not snowing now (an an example), but it’s supposed to snow later. Tonight the forecast may call for rain. It’s not that cold at the moment, but the temperature might drop, and then warm up again. You plan how to dress based on what is most likely going to happen. In order to make that plan, you have to ask questions and run through all of your options, so that you can make the best possible decision.

As a creative person, you have to ask similar questions. Am I making this thing for myself, or am I making it for someone else? What is my target audience? How are people likely to react to this? If people like it, what will they do to show that? If they don’t like it, or just feel the need to be an asshole, what behaviors can I expect? Is there a way to prepare myself, to “dress properly” for the emotional “weather”, to minimize the nonsense that I need to deal with? Can I possibly avoid the crap altogether, without metaphorically staying home and not releasing the creative project?

Some people have interpreted this as a lack of confidence. They think that gauging possible reactions and being prepared reflects some self-doubt about one’s creative abilities, or a lack of faith in the creative project itself. It’s not. When we ask questions about making a thing, we start by questioning the best way to make it. Katie looks at material and techniques, colors and influences that will resonate. I look at the sort of information that should go into a book, and the order in which it’s presented. But we also look at who’s going to see it, and what kind of feedback we’re going to get. We hope for the best — the piece turns out well, people like it, things sell — but we prepare for the worst.

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