Have artistic talent but not sure if you should take the risk and put it out there for the world to see (and judge)? Ask Marnie!

Art Smarts


Have artistic talent but not sure if you should take the risk and put it out there for the world to see (and judge)? Ask Marnie!

Have artistic talent but not sure if you should take the risk and put it out there for the world to see (and judge)? Ask Marnie!123RF Photo

My dear Singularians: As a writer myself, trust me. Unless you’re donating funds or you’re a grand-daughter of Picasso, going into “the arts” requires one-third talent, one-third chutzpah, and to be one-third nuts. (A trust fund helps too.)

Art of any sort “hurts.” It takes hold and clings to your soul like Velcro. It invites rejection. It almost guarantees a life of bargain basement shopping – and that’s assuming you actually have talent. My late husband, a former senior editor with The New York Times gave me excellent advice when I left criminal justice to write. I’ll pass it on to you. (He was British so it’s short.) “You’re a writer if somebody pays you.” Period.

By all means read on …


Dear Marnie: I’m 18 and I’m applying for college. My problem is my mother. I’ve won a number of prizes and awards for my paintings. I even hold some national titles, but while I love art, I’m not sure I want to be an artist as my profession. All I’ve ever really done, outside of school, is enter art competitions. My parents want me to get an art degree at a prestigious art college. I’m just not sure I want to make that commitment. What do you think? – Uncertain in California.

MARNIE SAYS: Congrats, sweetie. Mama and papa are bursting, the family is already picturing a “YOU” hanging in the Met, your Facebook pals are “thumbs-Upping you, and even I want a “YOU” in my living room. Ah, but every talent is both a blessing and a curse. You’ve been blessed. Now for the “curse.” You’re a label. Yes. Your astounding ability has labelled you and all around you are prophesizing “great things” in your future – if you keep your brushes up. Eh? Feh.

Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:

 * You’re 18. I have things in my fridge older than you. You obviously have serious talent. You also have serious doubts. Good. That’s your job now. To doubt.

* The journey isn’t about “what to be” but “who to be.” Far too many who skip the “who” and go for the “what” find that in 10 years, they hate their careers and decide to follow their real passion. They dump their IT job, chuck their dental practice, turn in their IRAs – and hit the streets in search of themselves. (OK, I exaggerate but you get the idea.)

* This is your time to discover. Use it. Apply to schools that offer a range of experiences. Then, experience. Write, study Black Holes, take Chinese, dance, sing, debate Freudian theory, join clubs, play chess, learn about the Federal Reserve system (then explain what’s going on to me), go on a dig. In other words, evolve into the vastly complex, infinitely fascinating woman you are.

You see, little one, in order to be truly ready to commit we need to reverse nonsense expectations. To make the right choices, the “what” must come after the “who.” Now go and find “you.”


Dear Marnie: I’m a 38-year-old divorced man. I’m a producer who’s been doing small local projects, some of which have won awards. A fantastic opportunity has dropped in my lap through a friend with connections to backers who saw my work. I made my pitch and they followed up quickly. We are now in negotiations to finance a documentary I’ve wanted to do for years. I’m amazed and thrilled, but I’m suffering with bouts of anxiety. During my senior year in film school I had an instructor who disliked me intensely. He criticized all of my projects mercilessly. He produced some small films with the backing of another professor with whom he was living. They went nowhere but inspired his arrogance. Even so, I still hear his comments and they sting. Any strategies to get past this? – “Creatively” Anxious.

 MARNIE SAYS: Who is this pompous poseur? Spielberg? Lucas? Preminger? No. He’s an instructor in a film school. (No insult to those with a real resume who teach the arts.) But c’mon, doll. You’ve described a yutz whose major accomplishment has been getting his partner to cough up the bucks.

Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:

* Run get his “films.” Watch them with your creative pals. Serve a nice Merlot. Then critique them like a rabid Rex Reed or Roger Ebert.

* Dig the dirt. Yes. Google the bloke. My hunch is you’ll find you weren’t the only one he slammed. His true agenda, insecurities, jealousy and a lot of other rotten words may be the culprit here. Find the truth then bask in your new knowledge of this “man-of-little-accomplishment.”

* Even assuming he didn’t like your stuff: a) that was six years ago; b) you’ve amassed evidence to the contrary; c) backers don’t give big gelt to rotten producers with rotten ideas (usually).

A thick hide is your minimum personal creative requirement. If … you’ve sold something, have been praised, have big fish dangling in front of you, the proper, accurate response to assign to that instructor is … so what? 

(Oh, and keep a writing gig open on your film for a haggard old advice duenna.)

Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2019 Singular Communications, LLC

Marnie Winston-MacauleyAdvice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with  hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications.  She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work.  In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley all over the Google and onThumbtack/Las Vegas. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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