January 19, 2012
What is the measure of an artist?
Look at how students act. My mom and I agree on something, though: too many students are afraid to even try. The thought of going to the board or raising their hand is frightening. They might know the answer or think they know they answer… but that board will remain empty.
I haven’t been the most successful professional. I barely make minimum wage (sometimes less) while working one and a half jobs. Every few months is a struggle to pay the bills. I’m happy, don’t get me wrong. I have a beautiful woman by my side, friends I can count on, and a family that loves me. However, the economy being what it is, I’ve sent out more job applications and job proposals for freelance work since 2007 than I care to remember. Today, I’m going to meet with some nice folks about a grant-writing job that might help offset the holiday hole in my bank account.
And I’m scared out of my mind.
I hate looking stupid. I’ve never written a grant in my life. I took a course and have done everything from novel ghostwriting and editing, teaching, corporate presentations, congressional work, and blogging. I read everything from science fiction to political blogs.
Was I scared?
I’m scared right now. Every day. My kind of work doesn’t afford a lot of security. Every hour I spend writing a proposal is an hour I don’t get paid or get to spend with Mary. Every post I write for this site is another shot at someone sharing the link and bringing more readers so I can eventually make enough money from the ads to just focus on this, my own writing, and my family. This meeting today will be a head-first dive into a type of writing job I’ve never done before and could easily lead to no money and embarrassment.
But I’m going to do it. I had teachers and professors that taught me better than to give up. I’ve had a lot of dead ends in my short career. I’ve had some good times. I’m not going to stop raising my hand and trying.
After I left DC, broke as ever, depressed, and physically and emotionally tired from everything that had happened, my old boss, Destine Holmgreene, took me into her office on my first day back and asked if I was okay. I looked only a little better than I felt.
She said, “So what are you going to do now?”
I just shrugged and said, “Start over. What else is there?”
Being an artist means starting over every day. Every project is a potential new disappointment. Every potential job is time spent away from our work and our loved ones. We don’t have the luxury to stick with a set schedule. We’re not the nine to five crowd. We’re always working, if not thinking of new things to try.
We’re also thinking of the thousand things that could go wrong. But we keep going. If this falls flat, I’ll just say the thing I’ve seen hundreds of time before.
I’ll start over. What else is there?