Monday, May 31, 2010

The Creative Life: Forging My Own Path

For years I have tinkered with words, paper and glue, filling journals and crafting decorations for my home. I have pleasured over the details of a poem, stringing lovely sounds of syllables like beads in a necklace. I have scoured thrift stores for wooden jewelry boxes and re-imagined them with vintage ephemera and paint. Although I have submitted and published poems and gave my art away as gifts to friends and families, my creativity has largely remained in the private sphere.

I remember myself as a highly sensitive adolescent full of romanticism and hope for a future dedicated to art. Literature was my first true love. I would take the bus from the suburbs to Capitol Hill in Seattle to go to Twice Sold Tales in search of used paperback books by Anais Nin, Tennessee Williams, Herman Hesse and John Steinbeck. After- school afternoons were spent beneath maple trees reading and writing poetry.

During my college years, I studied art and literature, never thinking too far off in the future. I enjoyed my life at The Evergreen State College, a small liberal arts school full of creative bohemians like myself. I did not realize this would be the last place where the ideas of Camus and Thoreau would be relevant in everyday discussions. I did not realize that long afternoons spent writing poems on the beach would later become a rare and hard-earned luxury.

Growing up, I never wanted anything else but to be an artist and writer. But when I reached the age of financial responsibility and had to struggle to make a living, my truest passions were reprioritized. Unfortunately, the classifieds are not stockpiled for requests for artists and writers. So, I waited tables, tended to small children at daycares, organized clothing at retail shops, brewed lattes and handled screaming customers at call centers to make ends meet.

I have just turned 28 years old and am ready to return to those original dreams that elated my young soul. I realized a while ago that traditional employment is not for me, that I must forge new skills in entrepreneurship. I am planning to sell handmade journals and altered d├ęcor boxes at Etsy, infused with my own poetry and mixed media art.

Now that I have lived in the real world, I do realize that the creative life is hard work to obtain. Balancing the necessary need for money and the equally necessary need for the spiritual fulfillment of making art is a challenge. In order to succeed as a writer and artist, I will need to keep trucking away at the day job, and spend my free-time dedicated to my passions. Little by little, I plan to sustain myself with the fruits of my creative talents and choose to live simply.

I am excited by the idea of self-made opportunities, of not waiting for the world to fabricate a vocation for me—because it won’t. Here is a quote by Irene C. Kassorla that fuels my soul as I carve this new, wondrous path:

“You must have control and authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.”