Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘artist’

“…Pursuing an artistic career gives you permission to divorce your sense of self-worth from the economic marketplace.” – Rahul Kanakia

I was raised in a household that tied together self-worth, the value of any given activity, and finances. Being able to be financially independent was seen as the pinnacle of achievement. Education was important, but primarily as a means to an end, the end being making money. (Why my maintaining a 4.0 grade point average was so important therefore becomes a bit of a mystery, since my family couldn’t afford to send me to a prestigious university, student loans were frowned upon, and being able to get all A’s has very little to do with earning money outside of school. But I digress.)

I remember the revelation my senior year of high school when I met a musician who made ends meet with a variety of accompaniment gigs and modeling for art students. I had no idea that was a choice people could make: that money, instead of being the entire goal, could merely be the means to an end, the end in this case of being an artist. My whole conception of what my life could be changed.

But even so, the insidious feeling that the financial returns of an activity and its worth were linked persisted. In my father’s eyes, I didn’t feel like my music was terribly important until it became my means of supporting myself. I was forbidden from even considering pursuing a BM (Bachelor of Music) in college instead of a BA in case it affected my future job prospects.  (As it turns out, it wouldn’t have made any difference.) I always had doubts as to whether I was a real musician until I opened up my music studio and it became successful.

Photo Credit: StGrundy via Compfight cc

Of course, that was all very silly. Being a musician is much more about attitude than it is about money. Many musicians never make any money at all through their music. Similarly, being a writer is more a state of mind than anything else. It has to do with discipline and dedication, time spent and patience to practice, and the personal importance of it. The identity of being a writer has very little to do with money.

At this point, I have, as Rahul puts it, divorced my sense of self-worth from the economic marketplace. I am grateful that I was taught the skills to be financially responsible, but I don’t believe who I am and how I feel about myself should have anything to do with where my money comes from or how much money I have.

Ultimately, attaching our self worth to anything outside of ourselves is a risky business. The kind of self esteem that endures through the ups and downs of life comes from inside. The outside will disrupt it, of course, but so often that interference turns out to be only noise.

Being an artist is useful not so much for finding a substitute to tie to self worth (a recipe for unhappiness in the tumultuous world of rejections, revisions, and critics). Instead, being an artist can inspire us to ask questions that allow us to make different choices about our relationships with ourselves.

What is your relationship with money? How much does it affect how you feel about yourself?

Read Full Post »

“I think it takes a great deal of courage to be one of the people who tries to change the world in some way — I’ve heard too many people say that they’re not trying to change the world, that they’re just trying to entertain (particularly in their writing). But that’s the point of that? If you’re not trying to change the world, what are you doing, and why? I mean, doesn’t the world need changing?”

-Theodora Goss, Magical Women

We are taught to believe that changing the world is difficult, if not impossible. Changing the world, we are led to understand, is something people wish to do in their youths, and at some magical point, we will grow up, realize it’s impossible to create change, and give up our childish idealism.

But we artists, we’re all about changing the world. (And all of us have the capability for being artists inside of us, whether or not we’re creating art professionally.) In fact, art is so much about creating change, about communication, about shedding a different light on a subject, that it seems disingenuous to insist that the only purpose of any given piece of art is entertainment. This is simply not the case the vast majority of the time.

Take the wildly popular Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, for example. It’s by and large a fluffy, crowd-pleasing musical with fairly unexceptional music and a big sense of humor. It pokes fun at the Mormon church with practically every lyric. At first glance it isn’t obviously world-changing. And yet. By the end, the audience is given the impression that while those Mormons are funny folks with lots of hilarious traditions and a bit of hypocrisy thrown in for good measure, they’re basically just like everyone else, good people trying to do good in the world. And I’m sure some audience members have left at the end of the night of theater with a different opinion of the Church of Latter Day Saints than when they walked in.

Photo Credit: an untrained eye via Compfight cc

Now, it might be true that we do not intend change or anything deeper in our work than a romping adventure yarn. We might be unaware of some of the messages we are sending with our stories, our characters, and our imagery. But so many of the choices involved in artistic work either support the status quo or disrupt it. We are changing the way people see the world, even if it’s unconscious on all sides. If we write a series of novels with all active men characters and all passive women characters, then we’re helping to shape our readers’ ideas about gender. If we write and perform songs that glorify hate crimes, then we’re helping our listeners form ideas about what constitutes acceptable behavior.

We are taught that we don’t have power, and sometimes it’s easier to believe that and thus avoid taking responsibility. But the truth is, so many of us have the power to change minds and hearts. And sometimes the most important minds and hearts to change are our own.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we can have it all, but we can’t.

That’s really what priorities are all about. If we could have it all, we wouldn’t have to set priorities because we could do all the things. We’d have infinite resources: enough money to pay for life’s necessities and that trip to Bali and five new outfits and front row seats on Broadway. Enough time for a demanding career and friends and a relationship and a second job and kids and pets and vacations and hobbies and volunteering. Enough energy and brain space to keep track of it all.

The media tells us stories about how we can have it all. But the media lies. Penelope Trunk has written a few essays recently about high-powered career women–using Marissa Meyer and Sheryl Sandberg as her examples–and how they don’t ever see their kids. Because in order to be that high-powered, it’s necessary to work something like 100-hour weeks. That’s more than fourteen hours every day of the week. So really, there’s very little time for anything else. My first instinct is to think, wow, those two women are among the most important in the Silicon Valley, and they have kids too, so they really do have it all. But they don’t. They’ve set priorities that have led them to where they are, and priorities always involve a trade-off.

  How many hours a day do you think she practices?                                                                                     Photo Credit: Melissa Maples via Compfight cc

It’s so much sexier to talk about priorities in terms of what you can accomplish with them, as opposed to what you have to give up. But the accomplishment and sacrifice come together. Do you remember that movie from the ‘80s, The Competition? It followed a group of professional pianists through a concerto competition, and it shows this idea so clearly. All of these pianists are so talented and accomplished, and in order to be excelling at such a high level, their lives consist almost entirely of practice and music and more practice and their coaches and travel and practice. One of the main plotlines is about how the two protagonists are reluctant to have a romantic affair together because it will take away from the necessary focus and drive to win the competition.

Priorities are set based on how much we want something, but they are also set based on what we’re willing to do without. You’re willing to not have much of a normal social life? Then you can be a concert pianist. You’re willing to not see your kids very often? Then you can be a high-powered CEO. Most of us don’t have choices that are quite as extreme, but the core principle remains the same.

We often forget the trade-offs other people are making. People used to think I was really lucky to be working only part-time at my music teaching business. And I felt very lucky. I was doing work I loved and felt made a difference, and I had time to spare for my personal creative projects. But I was also constantly worried about money and the sustainability of my business model as the price of living kept increasing. I didn’t have a company behind me that provided paid sick days and cheap health insurance and retirement matching. The worry and the skimping were worth it to me in order to have a life focused on artistic pursuits, but I was very aware of the choice I was making. And everyone has made similar compromises somewhere along the line.

We can’t have it all. Nobody can, and that’s okay, as long as we don’t buy into the myth. What’s fabulous is that we get to decide what is most important to us and make our life choices accordingly. We don’t need to have it all in order to lead happy and fulfilled lives. We just need to understand where our priorities lie.

Read Full Post »

I spent a lot of time talking about writing last week, which meant it was an incredibly happy time for me. It also means I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about writing, and the process of becoming better at something, and what it really means to engage in and spend your time on the pursuit of mastery.

What I’ve found is this: There is the big picture, the goals/dreams we are pushing ourselves toward. In writing, this might be having a story bought by a certain magazine, or getting an agent, or getting a book deal, or getting into a certain program, or reaching a certain sales goal, or a hundred other goals. These goals can be a positive force in our development, keeping us motivated, focused, and business-minded, as long as we can stay resilient enough to weather the disappointments.

When we achieve one of our goals, we experience a spurt of joy. It is very exciting. If you are me, there might be clapping and bouncing and maniacal cackling. There is a time to savor the achievement.

Similarly, when we fail to achieve one of our goals, we experience a spurt of sadness and disappointment. If you are me, there might be sulking while playing solitaire or making loud “Hmmph!” noises. There is a time to lick wounds and regroup.

If everything in our process is basically working, then either way leads to the same result. The work. The practice. The study. The craft. The art.

Photo by Darwin Bell

The good news is wonderful; the bad news sucks. But what really matters is what happens in between these peaks and valleys. If you’re a writer, you write. If you’re a musician, you play. If you’re a painter, you paint. If you’re a chef, you cook. If you’re an entrepreneur, you come up with and implement ideas. And always, you are working, practicing, and striving to become better.

The bursts of joy and sorrow can be intense, but they don’t last. What does last is our relationship to our calling. The words. The story-telling. The breath. The process.

This is what it means to seek mastery.

Read Full Post »

Tell Me If This Is Art

In our discussion about what it means to be an artist, the question of the definition of art came up more than once. This issue–what exactly IS art?–has been the subject of all kinds of learned debate, study, essays and books. So why not tackle it in a single blog post? The things I do for my readers! (Not that I’m complaining–it gives me the perfect excuse to use this image I found the other day.)

Hmm... is this art?

So what are some factors we can consider?

1. Exposure/size of audience: Has nothing to do with whether something is art. Pop/rock musicians and TV shows reach an audience of millions, whereas new classical music works are sometimes lucky to break into the thousands. We can get into an argument about low vs. high art, but let’s not.

2. Opinions of the experts: Have been proven wrong in the past, and are likely to again in the future. Critical acclaim is great, but who among us hasn’t read the rejection letters from expert editors regarding books that later became classics?

3. The Ka-ching! factor: Has nothing to do with whether something is art. Some people make a lot of money from art they create…and some people really don’t. Take Vincent Van Gogh from Tuesday’s post. He made hardly any money from his art, and is anybody really going to argue with me that Starry Night is not art? Anyone?

4. Skill: So maybe most of us agree that Starry Night is art. But what about that novel you trunked? What about your kid’s crayon drawing of the family that she spent several days on, but that consists of stick figures? What about your first musical performance, when you cracked on that high note? What about that song that consists of three chords? Is that song art if it has a catchy melody as well? What if it has especially original lyrics? What if it’s a parody of another popular song? Yeah, this category is tricky.

5. Artistic freedom: How much control over the work of art does the artist have, and does this affect its classification as art or not-art? For example, is graphic design to a client’s specifications art? What about animating someone else’s graphics/story? (Is that any different from a singer or actor interpreting a song or script? If so, how?) What about a tie-in novel with pre-existing characters and a pre-approved plot? How about if an opera company commissions you to compose an opera? That’s definitely art, right? So how is it different from any of the above scenarios? (I’d argue that in this case, the composer retains most of the artistic vision for the project. But what about portraiture?)

6. Intent: The idea that art can be defined by the intent of its creator. So if I put my dog’s paws into paint and let her walk around a blank canvas, she is not an artist. Maybe I am though, if I had the idea of making art based on this plan. If I’m singing in the shower and not thinking about it, that’s not art, but if I’m performing in front of a room of my students, perhaps it is. What about when I’m practicing that performance by myself? This is the broadest definition of art, and the one I resonate with the most, as a teacher as well as an artist. Were my singing and piano students not artists because they hadn’t achieved mastery yet? No, but I’d argue that some of them were perhaps not artists because they didn’t understand or care about what they were doing (and therefore lacked artistic intent).

7. Art is in the eye of the beholder. In which case it is inherently defined by those experiencing it as opposed to those creating it. Although do you experience it while creating it? What about afterwards?

I know, I’m asking a lot more questions than I’m answering. I’m hoping some of you will be moved to comment and tell me your opinions about the questions I’ve raised. So let me leave you with one final question:

A few years ago, in a sublime and slightly insane act, I decided to create a mosaic as part of the decorations for a Greek/Norse Gods & Goddesses party I was throwing. I don’t know anything about mosaics. I’ve seen a few in Portugal, but that’s about it. So I bought some materials and a book telling me how to do it, and I got to work. I spent hours and hours on this piece. In the middle, I got RSI in my hand from squeezing the glue container (I kid you not) so I had to recruit my husband to squeeze the glue while I painstakingly placed each tile. Here is the finished result:

As I said, I know next to nothing about mosaics, and this was my first attempt and therefore most likely a flawed and amateurish effort. The skill wasn’t there, the money certainly wasn’t, and everyone was so involved in other aspects of the party that they hardly noticed the mosaic (ah, party planning 101). I did, however, have complete artistic freedom and an intention to create art. So my question is, is this mosaic art? Or not art?

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Read Full Post »

What does it mean to be an artist?

I’ve been asking myself this question, in various forms, for most of my life. It’s a question that bears repetition because there are so many possible answers, and my own personal answer sometimes changes. When I first began creating, the question wasn’t clearly formulated and the answer was simple: Joy! As I grew older and awareness of economic realities intruded, the questions became How can I be an artist? and Should I even try?

For a year or two, I chose not to be an artist. Oh, I still dabbled in this and that, but I wasn’t wholly or even halfheartedly invested. It was a dark and boring time.

When I recommitted myself, I felt such a deep sense of relief. I was spending my time the way I was supposed to again. I was focusing on what was important again.

Perhaps that relief, that sense of purpose, is part of what it means to be an artist.

 

We can judge our artistic success on so many levels:

1. Financial: how much money we make, can we make a living as an artist
2. Recognition/acclaim: receiving opportunities, reviews, awards
3. Size of audience: how many people experience what we are doing
4. Growth as an artist: how we are improving and/or taking risks as an artist
5. Producing a piece or performance that works the way we wished it to

But perhaps being an artist doesn’t have so much to do with traditional success. Some of the most lauded artists labored in obscurity in their lifetimes. Many famous writers self published their own work. Vincent Van Gogh, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Jan Vermeer, Franz Schubert, Henry David Thoreau.

If money and fame are of less importance, then what does it mean to be an artist? It means we create. It means we dream. It means we explore the fundamental question of what it means to be human: what it means to be conscious, what it means to experience emotions because of a painting or a symphony or a poem or a novel, what it means to have the capability for empathy. The exploration is inherently of value, regardless of the outcomes.

Stephen King said, “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” Art supports life; it creates meaning, some semblance of order created from the complications of existence. It takes us outside of ourselves and pushes us more deeply inside of ourselves. It raises as many questions as it provides answers.

Being an artist, then, is about more than a job or a career. Being an artist becomes a state of mind. 

And the seven-year-old me was right after all. What else does it mean to be an artist? Joy!

 


Read Full Post »

I’ve been feeling all organized because last weekend I made a list of topics for my next several posts. And then this morning I read a blog post offering some misguided writing advice. (No, I’m not going to link to it. I’m sure way too many writers read it as is.) Cue complete topic derailment.

I’ve already written about writing advice in the past, but the more I think about it, the more I think this issue isn’t confined to advice about writing. It isn’t even confined to advice about artistic pursuits. Over the years I have certainly received a great deal of advice about basic life topics, some of which has thrown me for a loop and later proven to be completely wrong. (My favorite? “Oh, Amy, you just have delusions of grandeur” in response to me having big artistic dreams. Way to try to ensure they’ll never happen.)

Add to this the undeniable fact that I sometimes give what could be construed as advice right here on this blog, and I feel almost obligated to write the following.

Read, learn, listen to other people’s point of view and feedback. Think about what people say, try out various ideas. Don’t automatically assume you know the one true way to doing anything. But ultimately, DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. Do what you need to do (assuming that what you need to do doesn’t involve anything blatantly illegal, of course). And more than that, do what works. Advice, even the more strongly worded variety, is merely a suggestion that we can take or leave according to our own inclination. Even if it’s good advice, we might not be ready to implement it. And if it’s bad advice, we might accidentally harm ourselves or take the plunge into regret that I talked about last week.

That’s one of the really wonderful things about life. We get to choose our own adventure. Sure, we can’t control everything or even most things, but within our small scope of decision, we act as our own kings and queens.

It’s not such a leap to believe that creative types need to follow their muses and express their personal integrity and vision of the world in their art. But what if we take a step farther and consider ourselves to be art and our lifetimes to be our canvas of expression? The expressions “Follow your heart” and “Follow your gut” are close but incomplete representations of this kind of life. Follow who you are, and even more, follow who you wish to become.

Choosing to live this way can mean leaving a lot of the advice behind. The Backbone Project has really opened my eyes to this. Why do people care whether I drink alcohol or not? Why do they care (especially women!) if I self-identify as a feminist? Why do people want to change my writing process? Often I think the answer is that they don’t actually care about me personally at all. Instead they are seeking to validate their own way of life and their own choices. Instead of following who they are and finding a sense of rightness in that, they need reflection from the outside world to reassure them. Instead of deep and subtle thinking, they allow themselves to fall into the black and white thinking trap: I’m right and you’re wrong. Because this doesn’t work for me, obviously it won’t work for anybody. Something needs to be fixed; you need to be fixed. If I have a big bad problem, that means you must not have any problems at all or else you’re trying to compete with me, but it doesn’t matter because my problem must be the worst. (Or flip it around: if you have a big bad problem, that must mean my own problems aren’t important at all.)

Don’t take my advice about this, though. Think about it, and make up your own mind. Choose your own adventure. Turn your life into art with every choice you make.

Read Full Post »

Rent has been on my current list of favorite musicals for the longest amount of time.  It came bursting on the scene both off and on Broadway in 1996, and I discovered it by late 1997.  In fact, it is possibly the first CD I ever bought after I received my first CD player in 1998. 

Rent is very much a product of its time.  It shows the HIV/AIDs epidemic when it was at its peak and is set before cell phones became popular, featuring an answering machine used for screening calls.  And yet, its music has a very modern feel and it was always a very popular show with my students, many of whom were born the year the show came out.

From a musical perspective, Jonathan Larson, the composer and lyricist of Rent, was trying to modernize the American musical, and in many ways he succeeded, although it took many years for other composers to successfully build on his innovations.  While the “rock opera” had been quite popular in the 1980s, as showcased by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera and Schonberg and Boublil’s Les Miserables, among others, Larson was going for a different sound, more influenced by modern rock and rap.  Combined with his genius for clever lyrics, Larson wrote a score that popped with originality and vitality.  The sheer energy that crackles from a live production of Rent can be spellbinding.

The story of Rent is a modern adaptation of Pucchini’s opera La Boheme, set in New York and featuring several starving (and in many cases HIV-positive) artists.  For me, the first act has always been the stronger of the two, focusing on the action of one night, whereas the second act is more diffuse and covers many months.  Our protagonists struggle with poverty, sacrificing and striving for their art, living with terminal illness, death, violence, homelessness, mainstream disapproval, and heartbreak/lack of trust/relationship drama.  I heard this musical and realized, more deeply than I had before, that musical theater can have just as much depth and as much to say as other art forms.

The show is not without weaknesses.  As previously stated, I feel it loses some of its focus in the second act, and some of the sung dialogue passes by so quickly it can be missed by newcomers to the show.  What always drives me nuts, however, is that the musician Roger’s song “One Song Glory” in the first act, in which he sings about trying to write the perfect song, is infinitely stronger and more moving than his song in the second act “In Your Eyes”, which is supposed to be the one perfect song but is, in my opinion, much more clichéd and not as musically or vocally interesting.  And the end feels rushed and doesn’t quite match with the rest of the piece.

For me, Rent is inextricably tied to the time in my life when it was introduced to me.  It deals with artists struggling to make a mark on the world, while I was a music student struggling to improve my singing.  It shows main characters with terminal illness, and delves into the realities of living with illness and with death.  At this same time, my mother had a terminal illness and later died from it.  This musical spoke to the nineteen-year-old me in a way for which I’ll always be grateful.

Here are a few, out of many, of my favorite songs from the show:

- Seasons of Love: possibly the most well-known song from the show.  It raises the question of how to measure a life: what is it in life that we value most?

- Will I: a moving testimonial to the fears relating to terminal illness
:
- One Song Glory: one of my very favorite songs of all time.  This song alone makes me wish I was a male tenor.  Every time I listen to it, I get tears in my eyes.  It’s about the desire to create lasting art in the face of mortality.
:
What is your opinion of Rent?  Do you have favorite songs or moments, or see different strengths and weaknesses than the ones I picked out?  Let me know!

Read Full Post »

The Tate Modern currently has an exhibition of Soviet era propaganda posters.  I spent a lot of time looking at them, but here is the one that sticks the most in my mind:

"Road to Talent"

On the left, we are shown a (presumably) talented violinist in the U.S., cold, poor, and hungry, wandering the streets at night and being unable to make a living from his music.  On the right, we see a similar violinist in the U.S.S.R., his skills being properly nurtured by the state, elegantly dressed, performing with an orchestra.  Of course, what the poster doesn’t show are any of the drawbacks of the state-sponsored system. 

My husband told me this poster wasn’t so far off the mark.  Many Soviet-trained musicians immigrated to Israel and it was common to see these world-class musicians busking on the streets.  There were simply not enough orchestra seats in the country to accommodate all of the incoming talent.

This got me thinking about the price we pay, as artists, for our art.  When does the price become too high?  Although in some ways the Soviet Union was ideal for artists, many were stifled: denied religious, sexual, or political freedom, not allowed to manage their own careers, censored.  For some musicians, it was obviously better to be busking in Israel than having a glamorous concert career back home.

Here is the U.S. the price for artists is very different.  There is the money/time trade-off: do you get a day job for money and then run low on time, or do you take the time for your art and embrace possible financial insecurity?  Can you achieve the dream of being successful enough to have both time and money?  Or can you find a compromise between the two like I did?  There is the rejection price: lots of hard work, often for years, with very little recognition or reward beyond that of the creation itself.  There is the voice of public opinion, wondering at the value of what you do, telling you that you’re wasting your time, confused as to why it’s taking you so long to become “famous”.  There is the pedestal-pit price of everyone either telling you how what you do is impossible (“I could never sing”) or how what you do is so simple (“I’ve always thought I could write a book”), to the point that it becomes hard to explain that art is rarely either impossible or simple, consisting mostly of a lot of hard work.

American artists complain about all these prices a lot, and that’s fine.  We’re letting off steam so we can go back and focus on our work.  Or we’re commiserating with one another.  Or we’re educating the public and trying to change the necessary prices.  But overall, I think we’re lucky.  I can write a book including controversial interpretations of American history or compose an opera on the evils of capitalism, and I won’t be thrown in jail.   I can believe what I want and talk about it ad nauseam on my publicly accessible blog.

Sure, the price can still become quite a hardship sometimes.  But we all have a choice about what priorities we’ll set, and we can even change our minds later on if it’s not working out the way we hoped.  I’ll choose the life of that violinist wandering around in the dark every time.  The confusion in the dark makes the art even more valuable in my eyes.

Read Full Post »

My friend Sean Craven recently wrote an essay about practice.  (Has anyone not heard of Ericsson’s 10,000 hours of practice makes an expert theory?)  The entire essay is interesting, but what particularly struck me was this section:

But I have noticed not just in myself, but in most of the serious beginning writers I know, a sense of stern duty, of feeling that we must steel ourselves for the rigors to come. Writing these days feels like a polar expedition, where we expect to lose a finger or nose to frostbite in the process of starving to death while surrounded by bears.

I laughed out loud in recognition, of both myself and many of my writer friends.  In the last few months, I’ve lost contact with that touchstone of living an artistic life: remembering that I love what I do, and making sure I continue to love it.

It’s so easy to become concentrated on the duty aspects of learning a craft.  I must practice this many hours per week, or I must meet this minimum daily word count.  I must write x number of short stories, or add x number of songs to my repertoire.  I must work diligently on mastering a, b, and c issues that I know are holding me back from being the artist I want to be.  I need to submit or audition more, write better and faster, keep up with Writer K who seems to be achieving SO MUCH MORE than me in the same period of time.  And maybe I should consider attending another workshop or masterclass.

It’s not that these goals are inherently wrong or bad (except possibly for keeping up with Writer K, which is a slippery slope filled with disappointment).  But when your brain is filled with the ear-splitting chorus of duty, sometimes it becomes hard to remember why you started in the first place.  In other words, once a beloved hobby transitions into being “work”, how do we keep the fire going?

I faced a similar transition when I moved from office work to teaching music.  I worried that by making my living with music, I might lose my love for it.  This fear proved to be  unfounded because:

1. Teaching music was infinitely better than the office work I had previously been doing.

2. I really like teaching and working with kids and teens.

3. I really do love music and singing and particularly musical theater that much.

4. Finally, and I think this point is crucial, my job was to spread a passion for music, so I was constantly reminding myself of how cool and amazing music was and pointing out these elements to others.

I had to make some small adjustments to keep myself going: I transitioned away from teaching how to sing pop music, for example, because it began boring me to tears.  And my job was certainly not free of duty, not by a long shot.  But when I closed my studio this summer, I still loved music, singing, and musical theater just as much as when I started.  Thinking about this now, I realize I achieved no small feat in keeping my passion alive.

It is my belief that I love writing, fiction, and narrative just as much as I love singing and musical theater.  I’m just so weighed down by duty that I forget to think about the positive, and unlike at my studio, one of my principle duties isn’t to show how amazing writing can be.  On the contrary, I sometimes feel a certain amount of grumbling is required just so people understand that I’m actually working at all.

So I’m going to be trying out a little experiment for the next few weeks.  When I sit down to list my five happy things, I’m going to add something to the end: reminding myself of concrete reasons why I love to write.  My hope is that this exercise will allow me to enjoy writing more thoroughly, not because it’s an item on my to-do list but for the sheer joy of it.  When I stop and think, it doesn’t take me long to realize what a privilege it is for me to have artistic and challenging work.  I’m officially giving myself the time to remember.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,706 other followers