Traversing Artistic Landmines

If I may, I would like to share a moment of brutal honesty about being an artist who is struggling with the many different pitfalls of being an artist in this current paradigm. If those of you who read feel like I’m coming off as the whiny little artist type who needs to quit feeling sorry for herself and pull herself by the boot straps, save your comments. I hear enough of this in my own head, thank you.


For sometime now, I’ve been struggling with the feeling that what I do making music and playing didgeridoo is of any value or worth in this world. I’ve been taking some time lately to examine why I’m feeling this way and I hope I’ve come up with some explanations which, hopefully can lead to some solutions.  First, I describe the feeling.


 I know I’m not alone when I say that I feel like my own music making has little if any value to people even when people tell me that they love the music I make or they tell me that I’m awesome at what I do. I do feel that I play didgeridoo really well but that simply cannot stand up to my deep seated belief that I’m not very useful as a viable member of society. I can’t say that it’s any one thing that makes me feel this way but I guess it’s a cumulative effect of working in various capacities that only valued my skills as an office worker, a line assembler, a receptionist or a “crew member at McDonald’s (yes, I worked at McDonalds at one point). Suffice to say that in this world as it is, music making is best left to the professionals who have the money to back them. People often tell me that I’m really hard on myself which, is true. I am very hard on myself and justify it (right or wrong I don’t know) by calling it discipline. In looking at this habit a bit deeper, it’s a way of making sure that I’m not enough. I’m not good enough, I’m not talented enough, I’m not extrovert enough……the list goes on. For me, this has led to trying to please people aaaaaand we all know how THAT goes. So what to do. How can I possibly get myself into a better space? Perhaps, as an artist, hopefully, you’re asking yourself that same question.


I’m not sure if there are any clear answers at the moment but I am finding a combination of things. First, being authentic and not being afraid to share that authentic part of myself. There was a time that was able to do this. At the time, I played the organ and was so happy to share what I had with others, not out of ego but out of love. The appreciation I received was amazing. It filled me to the point where I gave it right back making this beautiful loop. I look back on those times and I find myself starved to get back to that.


Second, looking inward in self examination and finding the solutions out of that. I mentioned earlier the only value I had were the skills that kept me working. Because these skills kept me fed and sheltered physically, they were all I could believe in so I could survive. I didn’t believe in my value as a creative being or even as a living, breathing being. To me, those were things that kept me alive so I could do the work that I was valued for. For a time, a part of me died in and I stopped making music altogether. Those eleven years were incredibly empty and hollow. I had basically died.

To get back to my own innocence and self love has been a long, long road and I’m hardly done but at least, I’m back on the path as a creative. This past year, I have launched myself into being a full-time artist not to just merely make a living, but to make a life. I wouldn’t have it any other way even through this struggle of beliefs. Like clouds in the sky, they change and morph with the weather. Sometimes, there is darkness and sometimes there is light. I have to accept both. Even in writing this article, I have found that even with smallest of encouragement, it’s enough to keep going and keep sharing in love.

 Now, for those who wish to share any uplifting or constructive comments, please share away. I would love to hear what you have to say.

Many thanks for reading this far. It really means a lot.





Pamela Mortensen

Performer, musician, composer and mad scientist of sound and soundscapes. Mostly plays didgeridoo but also plays keyboard, sings and loves synthesizing sound both digitally and organically.