I have come across an interesting phenomena: if you didn’t begin your artist’s career directly after leaving school or you’re not highly successful, i.e. your name up in lights and making lots of money as an artist, it seems impossible to convince certain people that you are an artist. It seems that success and ability is measured by money or recognition and if you haven’t got that, then you can’t be an artist. This may not apply to everyone but I have certainly run into this and I know others that have.
I think what these people don’t understand is that being an artist is who you are. It isn’t a job, it’s a passion, an identity, something that embodies you, it is you. When someone negates this with ‘Oh so you don’t make any money from e.g. writing – well what do you do for a job?’ – almost like identity is defined by a well-paying job – it makes less of who you are and seems to demand you announce being something else . I’m not saying artists are not well paid either. Many are and others are not.
I have done many other jobs but when I look back, in every job I had, I gravitated towards something to do with writing, whether I wrote the company’s newsletter, or I was composing marketing letters, I was always writing. And at home, I always had a story on the go.
My circumstances changed and I was finally in a position where I could choose what I wanted to do and I made a decision that ‘enough was enough’ – doing jobs I wasn’t passionate about. I wanted to produce in the area that I love and the area that represents me – which is writing. I come alive when I write. Passion pours into my stories that comes from somewhere deep within. It’s something I never get bored of. There seems to be an endless stream of words itching to get out onto paper. My mind is constantly filled with ideas and creations. It is an absolute pleasure to be doing what I love on a full-time basis. I have been studying at uni which has demanded many creative pieces. I know some people think ‘studying’ writing is a waste of time but it really hasn’t been like that for me. It more provides inspiration, then you are left to your own devices to write your own creation, in your own style. I have seen vast improvements in my own creative writing, but also I have learned discipline and practical things, like how to apply literary techniques to my work or how to market myself as a writer. Studying English, also, has allowed me to read many other writers and appreciate the huge differences in writing styles and how they can all work and reach a particular audience. There is always an audience – no matter what type of writing you like. I am coming to the end of my degree and after doing some writing projects in the community – biography writing and history writing, I am filled with ideas of what I can do as a professional writer whilst I also complete my novel. I am becoming more and more confident when people ask me what I do. I now say: ‘I am a writer’. It is a very satisfying feeling to announce this, without somehow being apologetic or adding a list of other things that I do just to be ‘socially acceptable’!
Something else to remember is – small things most often grow into big things. So, for example, a ‘writer’ doesn’t need to produce a novel to consider himself/herself a ‘writer’. You can produce a series of short stories and enter them in competitions. There are many ways to get going while you work on your ultimate goal of maybe a novel or whatever you aspire to. The key is to get producing on that thing you love and don’t wait.
What I really wanted to impart with this blog is – don’t apologise for being who you are – be it and announce it. It is amazing but the more you put it out there ‘this is who I am’ and the more agreement and acceptance you will achieve and, funnily enough, you will find, before long, you are producing in the area that is you.