Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Artist as Batman

Like most of you, I have a day job. I happen to work at a pharmaceutical telemarketing group from 8:30 to 5, not using my degree in media study whatsoever. Maybe I’m using a little bit of my anthropology minor when dealing with a bazillion unpleasant receptionists (however, the cross-cultural appearance of generic job dissatisfaction in a particular segment of the working population is not very interesting compared to, say, studying the enduring universal phenomenon of “witchcraft hysteria.” :p).

But at the end of the day, I do not call myself a marketing rep. By now, I hope you’ve figured out that I consider myself to be a writer. Oh, I am much more than that–a daughter, wife, friend, sister, traveler, mediocre ukulele player, etc.–but this isn’t that kind of blog post.

I have to assume that most of you who bother to read this blog are also writers or creators of some kind (artists, if you’re comfortable with that word). Many of you also work a full time job, be it at an office or in the home raising children. I’m willing to bet, whatever you do from “9-5” (your hours may vary) that it is not necessarily your art/creative pursuit. But I bet you wish it was. I bet you hope that, someday, the after-hours effort you put into your creative pursuits can become your day job.

Or maybe you don’t. But if you do, you probably know all about the emotional roller coaster of being an artist by night: the pain of “wasting” your days for a paycheck, especially if your day job is in a field you have no love for; the stress of finding the time and energy to do your real work after all your other responsibilities have been met; the guilt of choosing sleep or laundry or making a healthy dinner, over putting in time with your art.

Pictured: a mild-mannered artist by night.

Being an artist by night is not unlike being Batman: most of the people you interact with on a daily basis have a poor understanding of the person you become after work, with a pen/paint brush/instrument in hand; you have your passion, your conviction, your determination– maybe even a utility belt full of handy tools that help you on your quests; you have a whole second life that you live, fighting crime/writer’s block, surveilling Gotham City from your Bat Cave/studio/laptop. There are plenty of criminals/plot bunnies/inspiration droughts out to get you, and the good people of the city/your family and friends don’t necessarily agree with what you’re doing, or believe you have the right to do what you do.

So how do you do it?

This is something I am always trying to figure out. I am constantly re-balancing my schedule, my life, always trying to find a better way of organizing myself and using my time so that nothing gets left behind. Something always does, of course. Something probably always will, even after my writing becomes my day job (fingers crossed!). But I’ve learned to love this state of constant upheaval. To me, it feels like passion–like life force being summoned through me. I am not an advocate of difficulty for the sake of difficulty, but there is some degree of personal validation (or perhaps confirmation) when you see how hard you are willing to work for something. And I believe the key to surviving the upheapal is found in that passion, and the life-affirming  joy of the art itself. After all, if we didn’t love our art, why would we be willing to put up with it’s bullshit? (just sayin’.)

What about you? How do you make the time for your art/crime-fighting after a long day of work? Do you find that you often end up alone, like Batman, with no one but your trusty butler/take out menus to keep you company? How do you take care of your relationships, your friends, family, pets–yourself even–and still make time for your art?

Inquiring minds want to know!

On writing and dreams and life and things

Things have been crazy. So much editing, revising, synopsizing, brainstorming…only to ultimately have to just let it go. My book, my baby-out into the world. My ideas for the future, half-formed, half-fleshed–naked on the page before the people who I can only hope will love them as much as I do.

I just had a solid 2 days without working on it. And, yes, I felt guilty the whole time, not outlining or writing or researching for the next books in the series. I do love what I’m doing. I am following a dream that I’ve dared to dream since I was old enough to tell a story, and every precious moment that could be spent as an investment in myself and my stories counts. So the moments when I do nothing, when I am aimless, when I am still (but so unable to be still), feel like a waste of life, and time.

But humans need balance. We need to replenish the wells we draw so much from. We need to take care of our bodies and minds, our homes and our relationships. We need to pursue our dreams-yes–but we must also have moments, hours, days maybe, where we pursue nothing at all outside of the ability to be present. To be still. We need time to dream a little more, a little broader, just for the fun of dreaming.

When I am older than I am now, hopefully living my dream of writing novels and stories for a comfortable living, I want to be able to appreciate it. I want to be healthy, and still madly in love, and attentive to my friends and family. I want a dog. I want to travel some more. I want to have a kid some day (ok, cat’s out of the bag).

I refuse to sabotage myself by killing myself with my dreams. I will not berate myself for failing to write as much as I wanted to write in a day. I will not hate myself for getting a bad review. I will not eat fast food because there is no time to cook when I am trying so hard to be an author. I will not forgo exercise because it is time away from writing. I will not ignore the ones I love because I cannot stop thinking about how character 1 gets from point A to point B. I will not lose the ability to have conversations about anything except for my craft. I will not drive myself mad with procrastination or unrealistic deadlines, comparing myself to others, going against my gut, or forgetting the part of the desire that made it a dream.

Self, I am making a promise to you. We will be happy, and human, and well. We will tell stories that change the world (for at least one or two people). And I will remember that the point of all of all of all of this is to be happy.