Up in the Air

Wowza! Time’s a flyin’ by these days. Last week was a blur and I missed this Monday’s post. Things are generally on the up and up though. I’ve spent a lot of time getting comfortable with my power tools; it’s becoming quite fun actually. My makeshift driveway workshop is a magic cloud of sawdust that spits out strange art and small furniture. If I could spend every day just building things, I might not be unhappy. That’s not to say that I am unhappy, but I’m discovering that there’s a lot more to being an artist than making art.

From the moment I had a few finished pieces, they were supposed to fly off the shelf and into loving homes. Unfortunately, knowing that deep down, every wallet-carrying biped has a closet physiological need for what I make, doesn’t cut it. I am charged with the indomitable task of getting even a fraction of you to acknowledge, embrace, and satisfy this need. It should be alright though, I have a marketing degree. Ha! That weapon has long since slipped out of my holster. What I am armed with is the internet, a vast network of friends and acquaintances, and the (underrated) satisfaction of actively developing a passion. I’m learning to exploit this arsenal as I’ve reached a point in my projects where I can no longer ignore the fact that sooner than later, this all is going to have to become profitable if I’m to keep it up.

Now I actually have to make decisions on where I need to spend my time, as opposed to jumping from task to task like I have been, as impulse dictates. I’m beginning to establish a rough order of operation but it requires quite a bit of work. It goes a little something like this: network online, produce a respectable inventory of “complete” and varied art, network online, disperse art around the city in appropriate restaurants and places of business, network online, design and build new creations to maintain interest and variety, network online, rinse, and repeat.

Meanwhile, I have to strenuously smother the fire within that rages to distract me with such mundane endeavors as inducting pen acrobatics into the transcendental “Desktop Olympics” and making a video to prove it.

If you have a unique Desktop Olympics talent, please don’t hesitate to share it in a comment below. These games are up and coming, you know. Plus, face it, this is likely the best chance you have to become an Olympian.

I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that I won’t always be able to corral such wild creative tangents. Although frustrating at times, it’s a gift really, to be so cheaply and easily entertained. As long as I can manage to return to focus and be generally productive overall, I’ll let some distractions fly.

Let’s see, where was I…

As I get deeper into my projects, I am able to pick out more and more of the amateur mistakes that I’ve been making and confute some of the preconceived notions I had about doing what I’m doing. For example, I know now that art does not sell itself. And a piece of art is never completely finished; it’s done enough to let go of. And often when people ask if they can help, they’re all talk. And it’s not uncommon to doubt the work that you do, or question its likability. Nor is it uncommon to doubt the possibility of making even a temporary living off a glorified hobby. And creating an online presence for yourself is incredibly time-consuming and cannot be half-assed.

As I gain momentum though, I thrive on the positive feedback and the gradual changing of attitude of those that surround me. Certain friends and critics are coming around with the realization that I’m actually serious about this. The skepticism remains, but slowly but surely it’s being drowned out. And with that, my spirit is high.

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Gem

We all have dreams that crystallize our hopes for our greatest achievements, happiest moments or desired pleasures. Most of us find our dreams at the end of sentences beginning with “If only…” Sometimes our passion makes us bold enough to live out one or two. The challenge for all of us is to place our dreams within the “big picture” — the overview of our lives — and believe that we can fulfill them. Our dreams are the chunks of coal from which we will cut our diamonds.

Bob Rotella
sports psychologist, author

Declaration In Dependence

This is my success story. I am going to make it up as I go. I decided to stop thinking and start doing, and this is what I have to show for it. Exactly what “this” is, is still somewhat of a mystery to me but I’m not going to waste any time worrying about that.

I always believed that I would get some great idea one day that would land me a “career” doing something I love. It made sense to want to be my own boss. That would be much more rewarding than working for someone else. I could be independent, and make on my own schedule, and everything would work itself out. Right?

Not exactly. Ironically, independence, as it applies to careers, implies a very strong dependence on others. Unless you’re forging money, you are not making a truly independent living. If you work alone and for yourself, then your customers are your business partners. You depend on them. If you gamble for a living, you depend on someone else losing money. No matter how you look at it, you are dependent upon others. What’s more? In most cases, the more people you depend on, the better your chance of success.

I have been in denial of my dependencies for most of my life. Since I graduated college six years ago, I have yet to do anything that I am proud of. I was so sure that success would smack me in the face, I gave up all efforts to gain work experience of any kind. I was too proud to even consider career placement. I preoccupied myself with all sorts of “great” business ideas while staying afloat through dead-end jobs in the service industry. The growing frustration of my under achievement was suppressed all along by the comfort of old habit as I waited for the one moment that would change it all.

And then it came. Only it wasn’t a moment, and it felt a hell of a lot more like backtracking than progress. It was a chain reaction built up by years of accrued disinterest, tipped off by heartache, that led me to flee the comforts of home to examine my life from a different angle. Total elapsed time: 13+ months and counting. Accounts of this are a closely guarded secret.

What have I learned from it all? It’s never too late to turn things around to start living the life you want. All it takes is one decision and unconditional commitment. Life is short, and it only gets shorter as you grow up. So here I am nurturing my interests into passion, because passion makes way for purpose. And like anything worth while, it takes time and attention to develop.

This is my success story. Consider it begun.