Sun soaked kitchen. Sitting high on stools at the island. Ian to my left, and my mom smiling at us over the stove. Notebook open. Gel pens lined up in front of me. Ready to write. — One of my favorite summer memories as a little girl.
Did you do summer homework? We did. We got those huge books with lessons in math and english to help us stay sharp, and my mom supplemented with 15 minutes of writing every day. I loved summer homework… I was always a little bit of nerd.
I never realized just how much those quick writing sessions affected me. They made me a better writer, and they made me love writing. But I don’t think I ever realized I loved writing. I knew I loved school and learning and researching, but writing? Never thought about it.
It wasn’t until a car ride with my mom — those moms know their stuff! — post grad school, mid quarter-life crisis and pre-blog that she said it: “Maybe you should be a writer.”
My mom is a writer. She earned her masters in English, she taught English at my high school and she writes beautiful, funny pieces for different publications. My mom is a writer. I didn’t ever think about being one myself. No, I was an academic, an artist, a health nut — not a writer.
But it was the first time anyone had suggested it to me so simply. And I thought, “Huh. Maybe I should be.”
I started writing right away. That was it. All it took was a suggestion to make me feel like I had to write, like I owed it to myself.
Yes, it’s easy to pin down the moment when I decided to be a writer, but it’s harder to say where the blog idea originated.
I started following blogs in grad school, before I was calling myself a writer: Mommypotamus, The Elliot Homestead and Homemade Mommy. I was determined to learn everything about real food. I was obsessed so I started thinking about starting my own blog about my real food journey as a single, working, broke girl.
The problem with that was that I am not scientific. I got As in school, but that’s just because I studied my butt off for those classes. Nothing actually clicked.
So naturally, like all of my other “passions,” the food fire died down, and I was left with the burning need to write… and another fire that I’ve always dumped water on: art.
I started writing. I started brainstorming blog ideas. I knew I couldn’t just write about life and inspiration. I had to have some sort of narrow focus. And I knew, somewhere deep down inside that it had to be art.
I started easing in that direction.
I started the blog. I kept researching, reading and following other bloggers. And art slowly moved to the front of my brain until finally it was so obvious I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
Everything in my life was pointing to art. An art center hired me — total fluke, never would have applied, but landed it somehow. They were displaying my art in their gallery. I found myself drawn to books about art — Monuments Men, What are you looking at, Art Forger. My boss was asking me to create artwork to sell in our gift shop. I was daydreaming of Paris, learning French and falling in love with the Impressionists.
It’s like God stopped trying to gently nudge me in that direction, and started yelling and throwing things at me: “Stop wasting the talent I gave you!”
Okay! Okay. I’m doing it. 🙂
I’m writing this blog for two reasons.
One, to help me do it. I love writing, it’s always been easy for me. I could sit down and dump 1000 plus words in an hour. Visual art is more intimidating because it’s more permanent. I put more pressure on myself to make it perfect and meaningful. So writing is like using a crowbar to pry open the locked gates to my creativity.
Two, I’m doing this because I know other people are in the same place in one or more ways.
- I’m trying to pursue this while I work full-time at a nonprofit — lots of hours.
- I am not confident in my ability to create art that matters.
- I have never felt like my talent was important, or that it could ever help anyone.
- I try to go after everything but the one thing that I am actually uniquely good at.
I feel blessed for the wake-up call, late though it may be, and I’m so pumped to help other people have the same wake-up call!
My personal focus is visual art, but this applies to all creative pursuits. It takes time and hard-work, but it’s worth it. It is important, even if you don’t know why yet. And it’s so important to use your gifts! I know it in my head, but I want to know it in my heart: my art is important, and I can make a difference with it. You can too.
What do you think? Are you an artist? Do you deal with some of those problems? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!