As an artist I have found myself being asked to provide my craft for free. To perform for exposure. Without thought to effort, time or cost. And in the past I have taken all those gigs; anything just to share my talent with an audience. Gaga says it best: ‘I live for the applause.’ Now, as an artist I know it’s difficult to quantify what my craft is worth. But I know for dang sure it’s not free. And I cannot live on the applause.
So, lately I’ve found myself expanding my vocabulary. And I’ve found comfort in one tiny word: NO. So small but so mighty. Oh yeah. It feels good. Like taking back the power position in my art. And making a choice to make art instead of flinging as much as possible at the wall; hoping for something to stick. If I choose what I do, when, for what and why, I can hold myself to a higher standard. I become a creator with passion instead of pressure. Cuz if all I’m doing creatively is taking on more so I can take on more, then all those important and paying gigs are devalued. And if I devalue my art, how could I expect anyone else to see it’s worth?
Since I’ve started using no, I’ve noticed the yeses increasing. Now, I know that the universe is about balance. So, turning something off, turns something else on. When you start rewarding yourself the universe congratulates you and gives you a, wait for it, reward. By saying no, you can decide who you want to be as an artist- and better focus on that. You can start creating better art for a better world. But seriously now, don’t get me wrong, I love freebies. I can’t say no to a promo gift bag;)
The saying goes, the moment you get what you want, you don’t want it. Well, ladies and gentlemen, for me what I want is to perform. I freaking love it. I love the rush, I love the sound of an audience- even a disinterested one, I love the sound of my own voice. I love writing, I love getting up in a soapbox and I love listening to the sound of my own voice as I read what I just wrote. And I feel that by doing what I’ve always wanted to I am a success. So, when’s this whole ‘I don’t want it’ part gonna kick in?
The hopeful answer I’m looking for is: Never! But choosing to follow your bliss can be a double edged sword. The part of you that longs for personal and creative fulfillment, often conflicts with the social expectations of ‘success’ or ‘normality’. Society, in general, looks at a 4 bedroom house with 3 kids, 2 cars in the driveway and a miniature schnauzer as a reflection of life decisions well made. While the broke artist, living off KD in a tiny shoebox with a Beta remains unrecognized for it’s value. Therein lies the debate: Is success a thing or a feeling? Obviously, if you’re going to be pedantic, a feeling is a thing. But it’s not really. You can’t hold sadness or throw empathy or put your dirty laundry into joy. So, let me answer one question with another, what is your normal and do you feel like a success?
Success by nature can be measured in many ways. And it’s the belief of this (not so humble) writer that by doing a little bit of something you love each day; you work to build your own success story. Okay, so it’s not the national tour in a pimped out mega bus with your face plastered on the side kinda success. And so what, it’s not the first Pulitzer prize for World’s Bestest Blog success. Or even what I love doing pays the rent success. But maybe striving for deep-down-inner-personal success is the most valuable of all successes, cuz you have to live with yourself everyday. *Sigh. I could listen to myself talk about this all day, but instead I’ll wrap it up with something else you’ve heard ‘people’ say: If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. And that’s a success no matter how you measure it:)