Beginning again can be a godsend. A chance to drop everything that lined your lips as you repeated complaints to ears uninterested in hearing them the first time around. It’s an enticing escape, to drop everything and go do what you want. To pursue your dream. It doesn’t matter if that’s to travel, draw, write or do something completely unrelated to creative work. Though, it seems with the way our society devalues creativity, unless it can be industrialized and mass produced, it is usually that kind of work.
Actually, dropping everything and pursuing your dream is much easier when it is just you, but it’s also harder for that same reason. If you have a partner who can support, you and encourage you it can be easier financially. It is still an individual endeavor though. Only one person in that case is doing the work and figuring out how to move forward. Calling it a hobby feels like cheapening the reality of the creative work I chose.
Writing is something that has kept me going in vastly different ways throughout my life. I’m not much of a talker and have never been. But I could sit at a tiny desk in a room the size of a closet and write for hours. I had a lot of anger to sort through, and I still do. I manage it much differently than I did at that time when there were so many sources it was coming from, I couldn’t wrangle each one of them.
I gave up what could be considered a sort of platform in writing. I made myself into a voice that could be trusted to deliver important information, and I’m glad I did. It’s strange to be doing writing that is adjacent to it, without the platform to lend me legitimacy. Honestly, it’s really scary to stand still and speak the kind of work into existence that I feel closest to. It doesn’t feel as natural as journalism became to me. Writing personally about my thoughts, experience and then using fiction to interpret things around me.
I’m reminded of all the crutches I was clinging to when I started my first full-time job in journalism. I knew I didn’t need to use them, and it was all make-work, but there was enough kindness around me to give me the time to see it for myself. I’m leaning on that kindness now and trying to show it for myself.
I’m not a patient person when it comes to my own progress, and I think there are plenty of other people who can relate to that. That’s why the saying “we are our own worst critics” rings painfully true all too often. Right now, I’m actually my only critic which isn’t something I was expecting. I thought I would be made fun of, criticized, and believed to have lost my mind for my decisions.
The people who came to know my name associated me with news. They heard my voice delivering them a slice of what was important on a weekly basis. I’m still doing that, but not how I used to. I’m excavating my own experiences and packaging them so you can see what is important in a moment. I like to think the timeliness of my creative work is rarely in question.
We all know the collective trauma the world has been going through. People are feeling that itch to wake up from what we’ve all grown used to accepting. I’m hopeful that something more sustainable than outrage and blame will take root and infect the masses.
To the quitters
I hope you ride the high of leaving what wasn’t right for you. When you come back down to a ground that’s unfamiliar and lacking the direction you should take next, I hope you’ll sit. There’s going to be a lot of noise vying for your attention. I’m not telling you not to work and get by as you need to, I’m just asking you to listen. Hesitate before you jump in with your worth next time.
Consider who you are, and who you might be if it was quiet, and your thoughts didn’t torture you with doubts and warped reflections. When you get back from the vacation, and your energy isn’t so focused on just getting out of work every day…what might you do? Think of something you would really enjoy for 3-4 hours a day, maybe a few times a week. Do not consider how you would make money, the success of this or anything like that. I’m not talking about turning your moments of peace into the next thing you’re trying to escape.
It’s just an exercise in remembering who you are. Not knowing how you want to spend your time is a valid answer, just as saying “I don’t know” should not be dismissed as a non-answer. The result can tell you where to start deconstructing. A truly uncomfortable process, believe me. Those of us who feel the most confident about this answer and skip the time to pause and listen are often the most directionless.