Hi. My name is Kim-Lee Patterson, and I am a writer. Not just any writer, but a fiction writer with over 13 years of experience in writing pieces—85% of which never see the light of day. Oh, some of my work is out there, but the grand majority of it lies unfinished in an assortment of folders across three separate Cloud drives. Why? Oh, fear, probably.
See, that’s a thing that plagues many creatives.
Actually it plagues people in general, but I feel that creatives are especially bothered because our craft is often viewed as a hobby… or a pastime, you know? We’re told that we must have a lot of time on our hands, and we’re asked over and over again when we’re going to get a “real job.” Family, friends, colleagues and many others assume that you ‘’don’t know what you want” and that you will eventually figure yourself out in time.
And as time goes on and your art still remains your passion, their looks of concern and their scornful commentary rises high enough to rival Everest.
So, with that kind of energy swirling around your head, putting yourself out there can seem like the scariest thing in the world. Especially since I haven’t even mentioned the critics yet. Oh yeah. See, the naysayers and discouragers of your whole passion for art are one lot. But there are also the people who DO see the value in the arts, but don’t see the value in YOUR contribution to it. Their intent and purpose is, apparently, to ensure that you never post another bit of your work again. Ever. Anywhere. But you know something? The strength to rise beyond that and to keep on sharing your talent anyway is a thing that every creative needs to find if he or she is to be considered worthy of the title they hold. Whether writer, painter, illustrator, dancer, singer, musician, and yes, even a crafter, you are not worth your salt if you don’t try and try again.
Aaaaah! Such a cliché. I know.
The reason why things become clichés is because they hold true, time and time again—so much so that that are immortalized in this thing we call language. Rise ABOVE. Do you hear me? Yes, I’m preaching to myself here too. We’ve got to fight for what we believe in, and the one thing I think you and I have in common is our love of art—regardless of whatever genre we hail from. Quit the second guessing and bare your ass. No, no…not literally. Come on! You know what I mean. It’s okay to have doubts, it’s okay to be afraid. Hell, it’s okay to feel hurt that most people don’t take you as seriously as you’d like them too. But it sure ain’t okay to hide 85% (or whatever percentage) of your work from the work because you think they may not like it, or because you think it isn’t good enough. Or because you think it still needs “fixing.”
I’ll tell you from experience: you’ll be fixing those goddamn manuscripts forever if you follow your inclinations.
Start a blog. Start a diary. Um, buy a notebook and take pictures of what you write in it and post them to Instagram. Buy a lamp and start being the photographer you think you need fancy equipment to be. Save up and buy a starter mic and put a piece of cloth over the thing ‘til you can afford a filter, and start that podcast. Mount your phone on a selfie stick and model your fashion designs. Get a tape recorder and record your music samples. Stop making excuses!
Yeah, I know, I know. I’m not the world’s best example of having my shit together, or being great at telling myself not to let days and weeks lapse between blog posts, or telling myself that I WILL write those next 1000 words of my novel “tomorrow.” But hey, while I’m screaming at the woman in the mirror to do better, I may as well jot it all down and encourage you too. Maybe I don’t know you. Maybe I do. But I DO want you to know that I’m rooting for you.
All of you.
I don’t care whether you’re full-time, part-time, or “just doing a lil somethin’ on the side.” Whatever you want to call it—if you’re an artist, then for the love of God, be the best artist you can be, with whatever resources you’ve got. Life is way too short to spend it doing only things that don’t make you insanely happy. I’m serious. It is far too short for that.