Saturday, July 13, 2013

There are better friends out there

When we had our first child, my husband and I had recently moved to a new city, he was working ridiculously long hours and I had just taken a leave of absence from my job.  I was lonely and sad, in spite of being so crazy about my beautiful baby son. I kept feeling like I shouldn't need anyone but my baby boy all day long, because he was so dang cute.  I mean, just look at him.
But loneliness can be crushing, and so I forced myself to get out there and find nice people. It was hard, but I kept trying and I found some kind, caring friends.

And the connection between this and parenting an artist is . . . artists face a lot of rejection and so learning to develop a support structure is a critical life skill.  Critical.  I know salespeople and college professors and a lot of other people face rejection in their careers, but that's different.  When someone rejects your product or drops out of your class, it is not the same thing as when they reject your music or your painting or your novel, because your art is an extension of you and it is very personal.

So artists should be encouragers of others and surround themselves with fellow encouragers.  Mackenzie has been blessed with some amazing friends who are each other's greatest cheerleaders.  She has let go of the hyper-competitive ones who won't retweet performance and release notices, won't share videos . . .  Instead, she has found people who believe in building each other up.
Some of +Mackenzie Elliott's awesome friends
One man, a nationally touring performer, started a group where local artists can network and he hasn't made it an exclusive club.  Instead, he encourages them to invite others, even newbies, with the only condition that they are artists.  A songwriter who writes for people like Justin Bieber tweeted about Mackenzie's blind audition because he believes in encouraging young singer/songwriters. A friend from Michigan went to Nashville to do video and photo work for her (here's the first video: There are some supportive, caring, encouraging artist communities out there.

So if you are in the life of an artist and the people around them are tearing them down, please see if you can convince them to keep trying to meet new friends. Ones who they will encourage, and who will strengthen them in return. It's a long and rocky road, and it's good to travel with better friends.