This idea of duty

Longform podcast recently interviews cartoonist Liana Finck. About 35 minutes in to the interview, Liana said:

“I didn’t want to redo things a million times. It’s a sin I think.”

She draws really fast as “a way to combat the perfectionism.” But the interviewer returns to the idea of sin and Liana elaborates:

“It’s the same as circular thinking. It’s the same as worrying that you’re fat and not being able to live your life because all you can think is ‘I’m fat. I can’t talk to my friend because I’m fat. I can’t apply for a job because I’m fat.’ It’s this very very minor thing that’s not even like a bad thing that’s just getting in the way of you being a person. It’s kind of in a way incapacitating yourself so that you don’t contribute to the world at all, and I think it’s a way certain people are kept down. And if you indulge in it, you’re collaborating with the people who want to keep you down, or the forces that want to keep you down. (…) Whether it is good enough or not, it’s so unfair that the most sensitive and vulnerable people are the ones who censor themselves the most and it means that all the work we see is by confident people and confident people aren’t better people than sensitive people. So it’s our duty not to censor ourselves so much.”

Liana Finck’s words are gentle, really. I suspect they are the words addressed to people, who like her, are very sensitive. They remind me of a Steven Pressfield quote from The War of Art:

Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action. 

Do it or don't do it.

It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don't do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God. 

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.