Hanging with The Artists

I had a brief flirtation with the arts community this weekend. I got to be the helper in the booth for one of my friends who makes really fabulous pottery. (You can see it at her blog over here: http:\\lizziespots.blogspot.com) I got to demonstrate my vicarious understanding of the vagaries of hand-building vs. thrown and porcelain vs. stoneware. My comprehension isn’t going to win any awards, but it can sell a few pots. I got to knit in public and call it work. (She happens to make some spectacular yarn bowls) My socks were admired.

But the best effect hanging with people who live creatively was that I got to practice introducing myself as a writer. I was having trouble before I left. I hit a big ol’ Wall of Resistance, otherwise known as Writer’s Block. Wrote myself so badly into a corner that I couldn’t see the way out, and I no longer believed what I had started out to argue. While this may be developmentally promising, it does not produce a convincing a story to send to an editor. Having left my job at the library, though, I had nothing else to fall back on when people said, “And what do you do?” So I took a deep breath, and I said, “I’m a writer.”

And the world did not stop turning, and nobody rolled their eyes, and people took me seriously. “What do you write?” Oh. That’s a harder one, because I’m not currently being *paid* to write, and pretty much… you’re looking at it. But I realized some time ago that most of the corporate and university contracts that I’ve had since 2000 were actually professional writing. So I used that as a jumping off point, said that I’m in the middle of a transition to magazine writing because my real passion is in long-form journalism, and it rang true in my heart as it fell from my lips.

The weekend included several hours in the car with a working artist, and an agreement to honour my creative work.With this stage set, I arrived home to discover an application package for a one-year Journalism program. I did request this, or at least tip my hand to the recruitment officer, so it’s not QUITE the universe dropping things on my doorstep. This time. The program has an 8 week core, followed by three six-week workshops, and they have options in Narrative Non-fiction, Radio broadcasting, and online writing (as well as television and newspaper). Technically and professionally, it is exactly what I need to make this transition cleanly.

I have only two concerns. One is that there is a number of degree programs beyond which one is definitely mockable, and this might put me over the tipping point. I’m pretty sure I already passed it, though, so mayhaps it is not really an issue. Also, money, shmoney. Once you’ve hit six figures on your post-secondary education, another $10,000 here or there starts to feel like noise.

The other is that it involves leaving my babies for a couple of weeks at a time and only being home on weekends for 8 months. The youngest will be 4 and a half by next September, so it is not completely out of the question. Just… I was only gone for 5 days, and I REALLY wanted to get home this weekend. There was a prolonged snuggle before sleep this evening, and I left the two younger ones in my bed to maximize my time soaking up their beautiful presence. However, I have extracted myself with a promise to get out of the corner I’m written into before the end of the day tomorrow.

Because the babies are doing just fine sleeping without me. And sometimes the most important part of the creative process is just showing up.

2 responses to “Hanging with The Artists”

  1. Go for it, Seonaid, whatever you decide. You are a writer. You are an artist. You just need to show up on the page (or monitor!), like you said.

    • Thanks, Karin. You and I should get together some time and talk about this. Possibly with wine. Or beer. I’m open