There was a fellow in the memoir-writing class I 'facilitated' a while back whose offerings always left me feeling as if he weren't telling the truth. I didn't mean it as a criticism, I just meant it in the sense that I didn't think he was telling the truth.
And what did I think he was telling? He was telling something that he hoped would win applause ... something that would allow him to conceal whatever his honesty was and yet reap approval ... approval that would then allow him to approve himself.
Art poses a strange koan: If it cannot communicate with others, it's probably worthless except in the elevated sense of self the artist might have. Art has to communicate ... but if the artist only works in order to communicate, s/he's bound to be disappointed and come up short ... a two-bit faker.
Art, I think, requires the artist to tell the truth ... his truth, her truth ... the truth.
My brother-in-law (when he was still alive and was studying sculpture) sat down in front of a block of wood one day and ... it scared the living shit out of him: "I realized it was just me and the block of wood. Nothing else." That moment frightened him so badly that he never went back to sculpture again.
His honesty impressed the hell out of me.
This ... is ... it! Right and wrong have exactly nothing to do with it. Approval is too much of a compromise. Failure and success are completely off the mark.
This ... is ... it.
Art may scare the crap out of you, but at least you can look in the mirror without tears in your eyes.