by Lynnette Ramirez
It was Saturday night and I was exhausted but still had more to learn. Tired from a long two weeks of business travel, coupled with quite frankly terribly exciting personal engagements. I facetiously told my friend that night as I arrived at his Hollywood Hills soiree to celebrate his wife’s book signing that I had no better good excuse for not completing the favor I had offered to give him notes on his latest script, other than my “fabulous life” had recently gotten in the way. I promptly grabbed some food and wine and settled into a comfy seat on the deck next to mutual friends of the hosts.
Amongst the group I joined was a multiple Academy Award winning makeup & hair artist and his equally talented and charming wife, another celebrity makeup artist, an art curator, an artist that works on paintings that sell upward of $40k, a fashion designer, an ex-tennis pro turned scientist and so on. The picture I paint is not meant to highlight I may be the “least successful and less interesting” person at the party being the “TV executive” rounding out the circle, but rather to explain Los Angeles is filled with so many accomplished artists, even those with Academy Awards and published works, whose names could go without notice if I was so inclined to drop them.
As the night winded down, a question was thrown out by one of our brave friends that has a successful career in one field, but would prefer to be a working screenwriter. “Do you guys ever fear creating on your own?” The question was phrased this way because all of us left either work under some corporate umbrella, or more accomplished talent. It was the painter that spoke up first and explained why he continues, despite his own magnificent talent, to work under another very well-known commercial artist rather than risk it all to go on his own. He simply said coming from the south he just wasn’t raised that way and that no matter how much of an “artist” he is, he values stability as much, if not more than artistic freedom.
As the conversation opened up, time management to pursue one’s true bliss, as well as fear, became the central theme. As I listened, I noted fear was being defined by the characterization that no matter what the circumstances are or what commerce can be derived from one’s talent at the heart of it the scariest part of creating isn’t really about lack of time, money or resources. It’s the actual process of putting one’s self out there, be it with a paint brush or a keyboard to create something from nothing and call it your own. I can attest as an “unproduced writer” that creating is a terrifying process. Throw in any level of success and the daunting criticism that is sure to arrive with it breeds more insecurity i.e. fear.
Yet I realized amongst this group, in order to have even arrived where we all have up to this point, whether we were satisfied with our accomplishments or not, we had gone up against fear many times, failed or triumphed, and obviously survived.
It brought me back to an earlier conversation I had that week with a friend that is a practicing Shaman (I know, can I be any more LA? But I digress!). He was speaking about my heart and had wisely said fear isn’t a part of my true nature. We are not born with fear but experiences and disappointments that result in deep grief create fear that lives in us like knots blocking our innate instincts. This is generally the root of anxious feelings.
So, how do we conquer fear and why are some of us better at it than others? Even the Shaman couldn’t completely answer that question to my satisfaction other than to say one must embrace grief and the anxiety that comes with it before being able to move past it. Yes, very “Shaman-like” advice. I turn to great proven creators as well. Many have addressed fear in different ways from Plato to Nelson Mandela but I like John Wayne’s simple cowboy Americana way of saying it, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”
Many things from inspiration, history, family life, romantic relationships, natural talent, DNA etc. make up one’s ability to create. I bet of the art and artists we admire most they will tell you their best works were born somewhat out of fear meeting courage. From my own experiences thus far in life, love and Hollywood, every time I push through fear and find my courage, even when my heart ends up broken, I gain a little more soul. And to me that’s worth more than any byline, credit, award or notoriety. Being fearful and doing it anyway pretty much has defined not only my success, but built my soul.Tags: Artist, Courage, Entertainment industry, Facing your fears, Fear, Film and TV executive, Hollywood, John Wayne, Lynnette Ramirez