I’m an Artist, But I’m Not Rich or Starving

I dedicate this blog entry to all you writers, actors, artists, sculptors, dancers, musicians, etc.

I went to a party last week and the revelation that I’m a writer worked its way into it. And so did mention of my paying job. The kind gentleman made the usual quip about my paying job being my day job, thus inadvertently insulting my pursuit of writing as a career choice. My initial reaction was torn between a scream and cry. Both accurately expressed how I felt. Instead I calmly explained that my day job is actually writing, that I’m constantly brainstorming, building scenes, and generating lore while earning wages doing honest work. I don’t remember his response. I was too busy trying to contain my anguish at having someone make that starving artist joke yet again. I think he lapsed into silence and I wandered away.

I don’t hate him, or the others who’ve asked about my “real” day job. It just saddens me, yet hardens my resolve to succeed at my calling.

Being an artist means…

-combatting stigmas
-following your heart, your passion, even when others tell you it’s a waste of time
-being broke
-getting a thrill out of seeing your creativity grow
-wondering if you’ll ever stop living paycheck to paycheck
-making friends in unexpected places and at unforeseen times
-working in restaurants and just about any customer service job
-having steel fortitude and determination
-working hard with no guarantee of success
-constant rejection
-learning life lessons that make you stronger and wiser
-so much “not quite”, “close”, “not good enough”, “maybe another time”
-sacrificing sleep in the name of art and creativity
-having a mind that works differently than those around you, one that cannot fathom forbearing following one’s heart just to have a secure job
-admiring those who’ve made it and emulating their successful behaviors and choices
-being intimately familiar with hard work
-pursing a nebulous and subjective concept of success
-accepting and perhaps embracing the stigma that creative types are a bit nutty
-being put down for not having chosen a more practical career path, despite all the movies, music, sports, etc. that are idolized, worshipped and whatnot all over the globe
-knowing quite well where fantasy and reality ends (for the most part; assumptions and lack of information skew this)
-you’ve picked one of the greatest callings in life

There’s so many more things I could list pertaining to the wearying and eroding aspect of being an artist, but I don’t want this post to be a downer; just heartfelt.

I’m happiest and most at peace when I’m working on my writing. I can’t bring myself to live a life waking up dreading slogging through my day job five times a week or more. I have done that. I did it for years. But no more.

What does being an artist mean for you, whether you’re an artist or not? I’d love to hear both the positive and negative. I’ll give a pep talk to anyone in need of it.

“Life is about the journey, not the destination.” It’s so true. I hate this truth, yet I’m trying so hard to accept and embrace it. I’m not there yet, but I’m a lot closer than I was just this past summer. Success doesn’t happen instantly or overnight. Success is earned. I’m in the process of earning it, and I’m not starving.

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About Angela Macala-Guajardo

Author, teacher, soon-to-be full time writer for two companies. Also a lover life in the Arizona desert, puppy butt wiggles, and kitties purring away on my shoulder.
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