Recently I was at a party. I didn’t know many of the people there, so I was in full socialising mode. The usual introductory conversations ensued.
How do you know the host?”
What are you drinking?
What do you do?”
Would you like another drink?”
But every time I was asked what work I did, I hesitated at the answer, or made an exaggerated thinking face and said half-jokingly, something like “Hmm, what do I do?” as if the question required a philosophical answer. And it did, I suppose.
I obviously know what I do for a living, but it’s what I don’t do for a living that I’ve wanted to tell people about for the last year or so. That is writing, and all things related to that for which I get paid zero. But more and more, especially lately, this alternative career path is being added to conversations with people merely as an aside; even with friends. And this wasn’t always my approach by any means; in the recent past I would make a point of trying to introduce writing into conversations with new people, because I was proud of what I was achieving (this blog, getting articles in magazines etc.). Then I used it as the thing to talk about instead of answering questions about my single status, as if it explained why I was too busy to sustain a relationship. Yet somehow now, it has changed shape again.
And much to my chagrin, I have begun to present it only as a hobby; something I do to stay creatively loose, nothing more. And devastatingly I wonder if I have started to believe this too. Not because I’m not still writing and creating new stories or continuing old ones, but simply because the struggle is still real. I’ve been relentlessly trying to get my writing seen, picked up, make some kind of name for myself, and although I’ve gotten some recognition, it has been few and far between and I feel my motivation waning.
As I have explored my creativity a bit more; going outside my comfort zone with popular culture pieces, and even making YouTube videos of my poetry, rather than feel satisfied, I feel I have pulled myself in too many directions. In fact, I’ve become downright unsure about what kind of writer/ creative I even want to be recognised as anymore.
It occurs to me that many people go for most of their lives without ever getting their art seen or recognised to the extent they would like, sometimes not even until they’re in their eighties, with only have a handful of years left to enjoy it. And I have begun to make my peace with this, but it affects the energy I put into working hard on my creativity. Or rather, it has an impact on the dedication I can give to my writing, when I have a whole other career that I am trying to progress with; i.e. that nine to five paid life.
I find myself asking, for the first time;
Do I have to pick a lane?”
What should I realistically identify myself as to other people?”
Will my writing remain nothing more than a hobby?”
Should I just get another drink?”
And so on. I haven’t found the answer yet, and I’m not sure there is one. I still feel a fierce passion for writing, even though this career-identity crisis has caused a hearty bout of writers block. But I can’t help but wonder; am I fierce enough, or should my fire have gone out long ago, whilst in my prime when opportunities were rife and youth was on my side?
Honestly, I hope not.
Image credit: Party by Datacrafted from the Noun Project