I get it. They can seem pretty self-indulgent. Annoying. Boastful. All those posts from writers, artists, and creatives of all kinds, letting you know about their latest project or accomplishment. You've seen them. And some of them have likely rubbed you the wrong way. Sometimes they rub me the wrong way and I even post them myself now and then! But here's what you need to know about the people who write those posts. We have to. And here are the reasons why.
First, creatives are compelled to complete their work and our work isn't complete until it is shared with the world. A song isn't finished until it is heard. A painting isn't finished until it is put on display for others to see. A house isn't finished until it is lived in. For the creator of those works, it is as if they haven't gotten "paid" for their time and effort until someone else experiences what they have made. And sometimes, the recipient's experience with their work is the only currency the creative will ever receive.
Second, for those creatives whose work is a part of their livelihood, it is a necessity for them to do their part in marketing themselves. Just as a small business owner places social media or radio ads to let the world know they exist, a creative must let the world know they are "open for business" as well. Realtors plaster their faces on billboards. Restaurants put coupons in mailboxes. The general public seems to be okay with all that. We might complain about the sheer volume of ads placed by a software company or plumber or bank, but we don't necessarily see it as arrogance. People are just trying to make a living, right? They can tell us about how their business was rated #1 in the region or post quotes from satisfied customers and we're okay with it. But when an artist tells you about their latest success, we often think they are tooting their own horn. I would argue that most of the time, that is not the case.
Most artists I know are uncomfortable with the whole self-promotion thing. It's awkward. It just feels wrong. Also, our work is so personal and vulnerable, we can be terrified at the mere possibility someone won't appreciate what we've created. And most of the artists I know are incredibly humble people who are also scared to death someone might think them otherwise. So they drum up the courage to tell you what they've done, knowing full well they will be misunderstood. And they risk it anyway.
Lastly, (I hesitate to write this because even I have a tough time always understanding it, let alone trying to explain it) there is such a thing as calling. Creatives believe, deep in their core, they have been called to create for the betterment of the world around them. They have an answer to someone's problem. A salve for someone's wound. A resource for someone in need. If you aren't the person with the problem, wound or need, you might not understand it either. But you will, someday. Because at some point, you will find yourself longing for something you haven't yet been able to find. You might look for it in all the places you usually look for answers, salves, and resources, but you won't find it. And then, you'll see a painting. Or hear a song. You'll sit down to an exquisite meal. Watch a play. Maybe even read a blog. And suddenly, you will feel different. Enthralled. Encouraged. Satisfied. Entertained. Moved. And when you feel those things, we creatives will feel the same. Because that is when we feel like we've truly done our part.
So go easy on those people who tell you about their latest "thing." They are simply trying to make their way in the world, one creative work at a time. And in doing so, they just might have something you've been searching for. So give them a look, a listen, a taste. Experience what they have created. I think you'll be glad you did.