I Love being a Creative… but I Hate being Vulnerable

Creating is an inherently vulnerable process. It’s impossible to create good things without pouring a little bit of yourself into each creation. Believe me, I’ve tried.

It would be so much easier if I could separate myself from my work… but when I’m holding myself back and protecting myself, I’m not able to write from my heart. If I can’t throw myself “all in,” I can’t produce worthwhile art.

By creating things, you open yourself up to all sorts of hurt and pain at the whim of others. Keeping this blog has made me stronger in a lot of ways… but I’ve also lost quite a bit of innocence.

I can’t imagine what my life would have been like, if I hadn’t started this blog. That sounds dramatic, but really, running “Texan in Tokyo” has completely changed my life. I’m approaching year three of blogging.

I started this blog in August 2012, when I was doing my junior year abroad in Tokyo. There’s a lot of things I wish I had done differently (like seriously, so many things) – but I’m glad I stuck with it. This blog landed me my first paid writing gig (at Tokyo Cheapo) and first internship at a start-up company in Shibuya. I met someone who introduced me to the company while I was downtown, taking pictures for a blog post I wanted to write.

Now I’m fully self-employed. I write for a couple magazines and a couple blogs. I’ve published two comic books and am started on my third. I’ve been on Japanese TV half a dozen times (and am actually going down to the studio tomorrow for another filming).

None of this would have been possible without my blog.

But blogging about your life isn’t just “happy flowers.” There is a very real emotional cost (as I talked about in this post). I’ve also noticed that the longer I’ve been doing this, the harder it is to be creative and vulnerable. 

It used to be that when I wrote something, all I thought about was “how can I help someone?” When I drew comics, all I thought was “how can I make someone laugh?”

Now I wonder “who might possibly take offense at this…?” or “Is there a better way to say that?” or “Is this safe to write?” Before I write/draw something, I need to be able to defend it to the ends of the earth.

And, of course, be able to stomach the inevitable criticism from both sides of any argument (“You’re being too soft on issue X” / “You’re being WAY too hard on issue X”).

I want to create beautiful things. I love being a creative. I love being able to spend all day drawing comics, writing articles, and editing/shooting videos… but don’t want to be vulnerable.

Too bad I haven’t found a way to have one without the other.

Just another day at work...

Just another day at work…

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

20 Comments on I Love being a Creative… but I Hate being Vulnerable

  1. This is the first time I have ever posted on anything, save my personal FB. I have always been afraid to ‘put myself out there’ mainly because ‘life happens’ and ‘life HAS happened’. That being said, I enjoy interacting with people. It makes me happy. When I see you or any of the bloggers or vloggers (Rachel and Jun; EatYourKimchi; etc) I follow, it makes me smile. Because you guys ARE putting yourselves out there, but in a sincere way. And when shit comes your way, you keep moving forward, without compromising who you are.

    For the past three years, I have been working on a novel with the intent to share my story with others. Last month, I finished the second draft and am now working on edits. Like you stated, it’s difficult to write something worthwhile if it is not from your heart. This applies to even a fantasy novel.

    Last month, I also realized that unless I put myself out there and risk being vulnerable, I will never be able to share my story–or who I am–with others. With that in mind, I decided to start blogging.

    Thank you, Grace. Thank you for being you. Thank you for helping me cross that mountain that has been holding me back. It’s blogs like this one that give me strength and courage.

    Best of wishes to you and Ryosuke! :)

  2. This is sorta random, but thank you! I’ve been working on a project for the past 2 weeks and it just won’t finish! When I think I’m almost done, another day goes by and I STILL have more stuff to do with it… (-_-)” I read a couple of your blogs and I resonated with your “good enough” post. Gonna buckle down and finish this today (hopefully). Bookmarked your blog btw cuz it makes me happy? Lol. Arigato!

  3. I totally understand. I have a lot of hobbies (writing being the only one I usually put out there for the world to see) and negative feedback (or the perception of it) is something that I still struggle with dealing with (for example, if a story I write has a lot of views but only so many likes, it’s hard not to assume that every person who didn’t “like” it didn’t do so because they disliked it, when they may have simply not taken the time to go back and like it.) Even constructive criticism is easier for me to deal with.

    People are all different, and there is nothing in this world, not even money, food, or water, that will please everyone. You always present yourself on your blog as a very grounded and reasonable person (even if you don’t always feel that way) and your blog has a very good balance of happy and sobering topics (which gives you a lot of wiggle room in either direction if you experience a long period of hard times or on Cloud Nine.)

    That’s why I fell in love with your blog even as someone who can’t entirely relate to it: It’s so real and very easy to relate to despite that fact. Life isn’t always rainbows and puppies, but every little misstep doesn’t need an emotionally-charged rant. You portray the good and the bad with tact, and that’s what’s important :) If you ever do post something that makes people upset, we’ll forgive you, don’t worry.

  4. Grace, we love your blog. If you have haters then that means you are successful. It is like Michelle Phan (the best-known Youtube guru) she has people criticize her for the most stupid crap you can imagine but yet she still creates what she wants. Don’t let any negative criticism stop you from being yourself. Don’t try to not offend people either because there are always people who just love to start a riot online over nothing. Just say things the way YOU want to say them the first time (it is YOUR blog, if people hate it or cry about something stupid, they can and will get over it) It seriously is not like you will lose any readers from offending them. In fact they will just keep coming back to your blog because it really is that good.
    ~ Sincerely, Ashleigh Son
    http://pandaandlion.blogspot.com/

  5. Hi Grace,

    I started following your blog after reading both of your published books. :)
    Keep up the good job and be true to yourself, that why majority visitors read your blog! :)

    It is hard to stay creative, if you do not want to be vulnerable at the same time, but sometimes you ultimate have to decide if is worth it.

    There is one thing that I think it may help you to make things a bit easier.
    Simply look and think this point of view:
    “Thank you, for critics in which shows that we have different minds!
    If we all were thinking and would do the same way, it would be very “VERY” boring world in which I would imagine “grey world” where only one mind exist…and everything would look the same grey as no imagine and creative..” after thank you’s .. simply remove the criticism from your life and smile and be thankful for wonderful world we live in.
    You also helped that person that left a critic post sort of seed that eventually might change their mind about their own believe.

    Well, I am not sure if it comes across the way I want it to… as writing does not equal as painting or does not equal mime.. as each has it own way of coming across and receive.

  6. dear Grace, guess I felt kinda like you, although in a much less powerful way… the first time I sang, alone, at a concert, in front of a public. It was awesome, but, really hard… I kept my eyes closed the whole time. Because when you sing for real, you sing with your heart and your heart is naked. It sounds funny, but it really is. Your emotions, your fears and your intimate desideres find a way to express in your voice, in its intensity, its screams or whisper, in its waves… Taking care of a blog is much harder and more meaningful, because you express your thoughts, your ideas, your fears also, your joys also. It’s a very delicate place, yet you decide to open a part of it to anybody, anywhere in the world. It’s really a wonderful gift – you give us a part, little or more extended, of your life… that’s why, in my opinion, lots of people thank you…you are very brave and generous! :) and yes… doing things, living with your heart in it may be dangerous, risky, and it surely requires a certain prudence… but, have you ever thought how it would be without putting yourself in life? In relationships? in dreams? in your work? It’s half a life, it’s a cage. It’s the biggest danger, my biggest fear. And… in the end, if you think about it the most beautiful things in life (love, friendship, parenthood, …) must make you vulnerable… otherwise they wouldn’t involve you much :) your blog is beautiful and true and so… in love :D hold on dear Grace, it’s worth it! a big hug from Italy :)

  7. Anonymouse // 19 March, 2015 at 3:33 pm //

    The stuff you talk about struggling with in your post is similar to what I went through several years ago. I used to keep a semi-popular (though nowhere near as popular as yours) blog, but eventually dealing with all the negative comments burnt me out. The tail end of all that also coincided (probably not coincidentally) with the start of the hard times I talked about in a previous post, so I decided to withdraw from the internet for the most part.

    That’s why I post with a semi-pseudonymous handle; it’s distinctive enough that on a single blog I probably won’t encounter another person using it, but general enough that I am far from the only “Anonymouse” on the internet. Sometimes I think about starting up my blog again and changing its focus, but the emotional toll is something that I am not sure I’m ready to take on again.

    Anyway, thanks for keeping up blogging. I know how hard it can be, so I really appreciate the hard work you put in.

  8. This come with popularity, you worked hard enjoy your success :) I am just a small artist/youtuber and you actually inspired me to create again so you are doing a good job haha

  9. The wider your blog’s/comics’ reach, the more likely you are to offend someone unknowingly. There’s people from like a hundred different countries, a million different cultures that might read what you create, and every culture will be slightly different compared to others when they perceive things. If you are worried about not offending anyone at all, then you can think until kingdom come and I think it still won’t work.

    This is your blog, your comics, your writings. If people who reads it are not capable of being open minded enough to understand that there might be difference in culture, then you have every rights to ignore them or tell them to go fly a kite.

    There’s a very good mindset that I learned from a prominent Malaysian political blogger. “My website is my property, when you come to my property, you do not have rights to comment, you have privilege to comment. If you say something really stupid in the comments or to me, then I am the one who have rights to revoke that privilege from you. Just like I have every rights to kick you out of my house”. I think if we all do things this way, it would be much happier for us to continue doing what we like.

  10. Vulnerability–putting yourself into your work–is what makes it interesting to people, because some can relate and others are curious about different views. It also makes your work irresistible to those who still enjoy smashing sand-castles and tearing people down…it’s slowly changing but I think online especially there’s this idea that it’s not “reality” so anything goes.

    You have a lot of courage putting yourself out there.

    As an artist I realized I hated selling my art…how can you put a price on the thoughts that went into it? And the pieces are never quite finished anyway…I was much happier giving pieces away as gifts.
    So I will never be a pro artist living off my work :P kudos to the folks who can do it though!

  11. Anonymous // 19 March, 2015 at 5:21 am //

    This has always been an interesting thing for me, Grace. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting my site/blog going again and have been thinking again of the content. Naturally, these questions you bring up are on my mind a lot. I’ve been writing since I was a kid and even then, those questions were on my mind. At first I wasn’t fully conscious of how I dealt with it, but the way I ended up dealing with it was by creating fictional scenarios in the form of poetry and short stories. I would never show my really personal/confessional/first-person stuff.

    And now that I am thinking of starting my blog again, I think about how I deal with all of this, and it has become more nuanced and ‘elaborate’ (I thought “sophisticated” but that may be giving myself too much credit). There is usually a mix of fiction and the self in many creative projects, like you say.

    At first, I had many ideas which I thought were helpful, but expressing them in forums, I found people misinterpreted many of the things I said and, in fact, took offence to them. So, yes, I agree with you. I think a lot of people tend to be harsh on one another on the Web, because it is so easy to type what you feel and click “Submit”. For some it’s difficult to understand that things aren’t always ill-intentioned and if you or I say something a reader doesn’t agree with, they immediately take it as a personal attack, instead of learning from the things one can learn from, and setting aside the differences of opinion, no matter how in the right one feels. But I guess part of me is an idealist.

    Anyway, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I’ve commented only a few times as anonymous, probably because of my own privacy issues and concerns. I will probably keep it that way.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

    • I recognize your comment handle~

      The internet is… complicated. It really is so easy to just hit “submit.” If it’s a comment coming from a regular reader (where I recognize their comment handle or they mention that they’ve been reading for a while), I’m much more likely to take what they say seriously – because I know that they’ve spent more than 5 second “reading” and then scrolling down to the comment section to write something graphic or racist.
      If it’s from a first-time commenter who just writers “you’re a stupid &*^@(#*” I don’t even feel guilty deleting it.

  12. I always knew from the beginning when starting my blog that at some point I might face criticism. However with the normal stuff I was able to deal well but there were so far always some kind of idiots posting all kinds of stupid things and also sometimes really bad stuff as well.
    In the end I decided I just go on with blogging, try to deal with those idiots as well as possible/ throw them into the spam folder as much was just disgusting…

    • That’s actually the reason I basically ONLY create content on platforms I manage. I can easily “spam” someone who is writing racist/offensive things. When I wrote for other sites, they all had a policy where you weren’t permitted to delete comments (only respond) and they encouraged writers to get into arguments in the comments section (since an “active comments section = an active community”).

      It’s much easier being able to manage all of that :)

  13. It’s a very tricky line to navigate, isn’t it? You’re showing the world your views on certain issues with every comic or post, but not everyone agrees with those views. And not everyone is sane enough for civil discourse.

    The irony is that those individuals with — be it ever so slight — sexist or racist views are the ones least likely to actually examine their work. Kind of along the lines of, “If you think you might be crazy, you’re probably not.”

    I applaud your courage. From behind a pseudonym. You are braver than I am.

    • This article was prompted by something else I read – the 80/20 rule. Most successful people are liked 80% of the time. And most of the super-critical/hard comments come from 20% of the readership. No matter what you do, there will be that opposition. So just concentrate on writing for the 80% – since they’re your real supporters.
      Or, it was much more eloquent than that. I should look it up again. It was a good article.

  14. Well, this question on freedom of speech, politically correctness and trolls on comments section is really interesting… There is an article on The Guardian on this subject: http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2014/sep/12/comment-sections-toxic-moderation

    Some points of the article:
    “Unmoderated comments will never work. There are too many cranks, crackpots, bigots and nasty people with nothing but time on their hands. And no intelligent, thoughtful person will take the time to jump into a comment thread that’s a cesspool (and who could blame them?), so bad comments inevitably drive out good ones”
    “So the advice ‘don’t feed the trolls’ is not only bad, but misguided. It is not only playing by the trolls’ rules, it also negates curation and proper engagement with your comment section. This is what results in comments flooded with trolls, bigots, and so on, instead of a curated space of proper discussion and debate to move important ideas forward for all.”
    “The major thing isn’t anonymity so much as it is non-accountability: there is no tangible, negative consequence for treating someone awfully. Though that’s slowly changing, with people being convicted for internet behaviour – because more of us, and the more powerful of us, are realising internet behaviour is still behaviour and it has an effect on targeted people.”
    “(…) comment sections shouldn’t be the rule, but they should be a carefully managed gift to readers on an article-by-article basis. That means readers should be thankful they’re allowed to comment directly on the site – not feel infringed when it’s not there.”

    On this vulnerability on “And, of course, be able to stomach the inevitable criticism from both sides of any argument”: let it go… As you said it is inevitable. So take the best of it by not taking such criticism so personally. Don’t lose your innocence. I think that your Youtube Channel and your blog are both working fine.

    • I agree – unmoderated comments really can’t work. At least they can’t work anymore. I rarely comment on a “big” article (even if I have something to say) because I really, REALLY don’t want to look at the comments section.

  15. Hi Grace,

    your words resonate with me a lot. Even though I was lucky so far and I never experience harsh criticism in my young blog, whenever I write something I try to be very careful about my choice of words and topics. I know the Internet can be an ugly place and I just try to protect myself as well as I can.

    On the other hand, as a designer I am quite familiar with the vulnerability you feel exposed to when you create and deliver creative work. Whether it was back at school or even now at work, I put a part of me in every little piece of work I produce and when I get criticized it is hard not to take it personally.

    I think I am slowly learning how to put some distance between me and my creative work, but it is always a work in progress!

    • I used to live in fear of going viral. Like, not in a good way, in the bad way, where everyone jumps on something you wrote and it ends up splashed across the internet. Since I’ve gotten “careful” – I don’t worry about it as much. But still…

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