As a writer who eventually wants their writing to be read, maybe I should feel more of an obligation to stay connected. However, I'm pretty darn adamant in my belief when I say, it just isn't natural to have every minute of your day broadcasted, shared, and commented on. Since when did every-day Joe and Mary wake and say, "I need more public relations in my life." I won't bore you with my own theories of detachment and lack of empathy, the detriments occurring in real relationships and interactions, or what is really happening to the wiring of our brains... **Just read Nicholas Carr's, The Shallows
What I really want to know is: Does getting a daily ego-boost from an "audience" really give anyone the affirmations they seek? Does having a social media platform actually motivate, encourage, or enhance one's work, creative energy, or intellect? And what does it really do to one's confidence?
Today, I reached a small goal in my personal and creative life. (Yes, I can still say there is no division between the two, and I hope to maintain my autonomy from that corrosive mindset that an artist must love their art first and foremost, and of course sacrifice everything else and sell their souls.) I say this is a small goal, not to minimize it, but because I recognize it as another step in the direction I envisioned for myself, years ago. I also wouldn't call this goal monumental, by any stretch, for it is something I have accomplished many times over. What I can tell you is different about this goal is that it comes with its own sense of accomplishment.
I don't typically share what I do to make money day in and day out, over the internet. As some of you have already put together, I don't pay my bills by being a blogger, or a published short story writer. The truth is, like so many other dedicated writers, I have yet to actually get paid for any of my fiction. Sure, I've written little bits here and there for local papers that were happy to cut me a few bucks per inch, but that's not where I'm going with this, when we have more interesting things to cover.
So, here's the thing, what I do every day is work with kids who have really been dealt some of life's toughest cards. Needless to say, this isn't just some job for me where I punch the clock. These are kids that have seen horrors and hardships that most of us could never imagine enduring, let alone surviving. They are also some of the most beautiful human beings I have ever met. They trust without question, love without judgment, and are capable of the purest kind of joy. (If we could ever be so lucky, right?)
While there are definitely moments of great introspection and wonderful successes I get to be part of, there are more days when the work I do feels thankless and overwhelming with its challenges. And those are the days when I get home and all I want to do is turn off. Those are the days I can't even clear my tired head enough to put together a meal, or have a coherent conversation with my partner. Those are the days I can't even imagine sitting down at a computer and trying to make sense of this crazy world we live in, let alone be creative in my vision.
But I do. I make that meal, I talk to my partner, I sit down at the computer, I write. I'm not saying it is easy, or that there aren't days where I just want to give something up to catch a break. And I certainly get frustrated and angry, and sometimes start crying when I feel like I have nothing left to give. But after that good cry, I come around, and with the support of my partner I am able to redirect my focus to what I do have and what I can say about the world we live in, and get away from that sinking hole of what I don't have, right now. I am then able to see that just because I might not be exactly where I thought I would be at this point in my life, it doesn't mean I will never get there.
It takes steps. It's a process. Whatever you want to call it. So, I work toward finding that balance. I set small goals that are reachable. I celebrate every day successes. I thank people who help me along the way. I stay open to the possibility of change.
It seems simple, but I can tell you it is not. There was even a time in my life where I actually thought I had to live selfishly to take myself seriously as an artist. This, I assure you, is an absurd fallacy. A self-absorbed lifestyle is one of emptiness and loneliness, and lacks the true grit of life that ultimately inspires.
Now you're probably wondering what was this goal that got me on this long-winded backstory and lament. Well, if its okay with you, I'm going to now go quietly and celebrate the way I do. In real time.
But first, I will leave you this note:
"Recognizing the poetic possibilities of this temporary affliction, I attempted to rein something in, treading my internal haze in search of elemental creatures, or the hare of a wild religion."
Love, Patti Smith