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Shut Up, Feelings! Disappointment in Artistic Life

First, let me thank the effervescent Sarah Novotny for today’s title – girlfriend is wicked funny.

Now, let’s talk about feeeeeeeeeeelings. Nope, we’re not going to do any navel-gazing, armchair psychiatry, or crying; but we are going to talk about disappointment, art, and the business of art (which sometimes seems like it has absolutely nothing to do with art). Do your feelings help you? Light a fire under your behind? Make you go all “Black Swan”? It’s an important conversation, so grab a glass of wine, and lie down on the couch.

Getting Some Perspective

Everyone on the planet has moments of disappointment, but does it ever seem to you that as an artist you have weeks of it? If you’re a performer or a student in hot pursuit of a dream that seems a bazillion miles away, I’ll bet you’re struggling with some right now. Didn’t get that move in class? Didn’t get the gig? Made the mistake of watching yourself on video a little too soon? Here are some things to keep in mind that might take some of the sting out:

1 – It’s not personal. Speaking from the other side of the casting couch table, I can very confidently tell you that if we do not cast you in a show, or if I give you some tough correction in class, it isn’t personal. Unless you’re an a$$hole, in which case it is.

2 – You have no idea what they’re looking for. Sometimes, we need a killer stage presence more than perfect technique. Sometimes, we need really tall people. Sometimes we need someone who’s really, really easy to work with. Do you see what I’m getting at here? You’re not going to be right for every show, so find your strength and WORK IT – when I need someone who can juggle flaming badgers while wearing stilettos, I’ll call you.

3 – You may need to step up your game, or consider some alternatives. Sometimes, it is you. Maybe you need more training, or your competition was particularly tough. Maybe you’re not strong enough to do that move, limber enough to kick yourself in the head, or you’re a complete PITA to work with. BUT – you can always get better.

4 – Make it all work for you. Let that disappointment light a furnace under your tush! They didn’t ask you to audition? Nerts to them – you’re going to train your patootie off and they will have missed the best aerialist this side of Texas. Get stronger. Get better. Get going.

5 – Success – true success – takes time, and crazy effort. The most valuable thing you can bring to the table is an accurate assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. When do you shine? What do you need to improve? What is working? What is NOT working? It takes courage to ask these questions, and even more to answer them honestly and make the changes they demand.


If you’re not failing big, at least occasionally, you’re not trying hard enough. If you’re failing all the time, ask the hard questions and figure out why. Sometimes, we have to be willing to let go of what we thought our dream would look like, and let it build into something better and more perfect for us. It’s a lot like the difference between squeezing into clothing off the rack, and slipping on a couture gown made just for you. So take that disappointment and make gold. Make magic. Make mistakes, and make ‘em big.  Love and pull-ups, Laura




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5 comments on “Shut Up, Feelings! Disappointment in Artistic Life”

  1. Stephanie Reply

    Love This! So well put and funny, too. Thanks Laura for always addressing those things that niggle at us!

  2. jamie Reply

    what perfect timing, this is exactly what i needed to hear right now! thanks Laura 🙂

    • Lewitwer Reply

      I’m so glad it helped, Miss Jamie! Go on with your bad self and kick some serious booty! 🙂

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