When History Fails You: Keep the Faith
Very truly the most difficult part of this creative pursuit is not the creativity itself.
It’s not finding moments to work or ideas to explore. It’s not fighting procrastination.
It’s keeping the faith.
I’m not a religious person, but I grasp what the whole faith thing is…
It’s believing in a thing for which there’s no proof.
Income? That’s proof that you do work worth some tangible form of payment.
In my case, it’s keeping the faith that taking all this time, wearing down my savings, and filling my hours with this writing thing is going to pay off.
The bulk of my current work gets no recognition. Being in-progress, it’s not even in a position where it could be recognized.
Undoubtedly I’ve internalized some cultural idea of needing consistent payment as a form of self-validation.
If only I had gone to a liberal arts school, I say. If only my parents had been hippie artists and named me Amethyst. If only I’d been the star student in 7th-grade art. If only I’d internalized the idea that taking time to create something is okay.
Instead, the idea recognized as truth for my entire adult life (until about eight months ago) is that if I’m not gainfully employed, I’m failing somehow.
I grew up exposed to the type of talk where if it’s mentioned that so-and-so doesn’t have a job, it’s with a raised eyebrow. If so-and-so the artist is mentioned, there may well be quotation marks around the artist part.
Maybe I was even the giver of the air quotes. I rejected the idea of a creative lifestyle because I wasn’t ready to acknowledge the desire within or the prospect of success for myself.
It was too risky.
Anyway, I still don’t quite like the term artist; I’m a craftswoman.
But it’s bonkers, really—this income/validation thing. There’s no logic behind it. I earned money before I took this “sabbatical” for creativity. Previous payment is why I’m able to do this right now.
Now that I’m here, though, I have this past wage-earner’s mentality that’s proving to be a real behemoth to overcome.
Logically, if we’re talking about getting some amount of money all-at-once versus having it paid out weekly or monthly, it is the same amount.
Let me be happy with the lump sum. Why does this fallacious thinking around absence of recurring payment chip away at my contentment?
The fact is, I’m finishing a book and trying to get started on a lot of other self-made endeavors. Pressuring myself to get it done faster or better or whatever is pointless. There is no standard amount of time it takes, especially when it’s one’s first time.
And it’s not just my first book, it’s my first time ever allowing myself to pursue creative stuff.
So hopefully all this boohoo is just growing pains. I imagine a future of sitting on chaise lounges and allowing myself the freedom to read and write and enjoy the day without any guilt. The irony is that all this lack of income (and the work I do in the meantime) ideally will lead me to earn the most fulfilling income of my life.
Fulfilling does not equal bountiful, but that would be nice too.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
No matter how I pressure myself to get things done quickly in order to start making money, it’s just going to take the amount of time it takes.
If I can’t keep up the faith in myself during this process, I can’t expect it from anybody else.
Thoughts? What would you consider your creative “realm”? How do you keep the faith? Leave a comment below.
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How would you even define a “crash and burn”?
If you never make any money from writing, would you still do it?
Brooke, this is a great question! Thank you for making me think. Crash and burn? The first thing that pops into my mind is giving up. I fully believe that as long as I keep working, the financial means to sustain myself will come along, so the worst thing to me would be giving up on myself when I know I can get what I want (and maybe that will look different from what I have in mind right now).
would you still write if you won a billion dollars in the lottery?
Yes!! oh goodness, that would be the BEST writing, for all the fear of being recognized would be taken away. And time. I could just sit and slowly work on book ideas. It’s the feeling of painting for a painter, not the sale of the completed work. And for me it’s the feeling of writing.