makar [ˈmækər]
n (Literature / Poetry) Scot a creative artist, esp a poet
[a Scot variant of maker]

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I took my daughter to see her first ballet on Saturday afternoon. It was wonderful observing her excitement - she danced all the way back to the station (via the ice cream shop) and then fell fast asleep on the journey home. Our seats were right at the front of the stalls and we could peek down into the orchestra pit to see all the musicians playing. I found myself wondering what it must be like to make your living from playing music. Would it sometimes feel like work?  Or would you mostly just thank your lucky stars that your passion was also your vocation? I've been thinking a lot lately about creative people and how they earn a living. I'm a little in awe of those who have the talent and determination (and luck?) to make an income from their art.

I've always thought of myself as a creative person and I've always wanted to earn a living through this creativity. It took me a long time to get a job after university (I did a lot of unpaid work experience and blew all my savings) and when I did finally land what I thought was a dream entry-level job in documentary production, it wasn't what I wanted. I was being channeled into a career as a production manager: someone who makes it possibly for other people to be creative. There was another recent graduate in the company, who was seemingly on the fast track to becoming one of those creatives. I couldn't understand why it wasn't me. I felt like I couldn't break out of the mold they had put me in. I wanted to make art; not sort out the logistics so that someone else could realise their vision. I decided that all I really wanted to do was write novels, and so I applied for a masters course in Creative Writing. When I was accepted, it felt amazing - like someone had validated my dream. I was a writer.

But sometimes I wonder... Should I be doing something else? Is loving books and stories enough? Maybe I'm not a writer; maybe I've been deluding myself. There must be a whole lot of failed novelists out there. When do you decide to quit? Now that my time is so precious, I'm questioning myself more and more. Once all three of my children are at school, I will probably need some kind of job. What will I do? I might never get to the point where writing earns me an income. But will there be time to work, be a mum and write? Will there be enough of me to go around? Is pursuing my writing an indulgence? Or futile? Do I have anything to say? Am I even any good? I just don't know.

Sometimes I wish that there was something else I wanted as much. I've spent many hours looking at courses and alternative careers. I wish I could find something that felt right. When a mum at school recently revealed that she is planning to study to be a nurse, I felt a pang of jealousy. It's not because I have any desire to be a nurse, but because she has found what she wants to do and is going to make her dream come true. She will be a nurse. It will be her job and someone will pay her to do it. I can write and I can say that I'm a writer, but there is no guarantee that anyone will pay me to do it. Does this mean it is merely a hobby? Can you really be a writer if no one wants to publish or read your words?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

During the year I was writing full-time and over the following year, when I wrote part-time (while working at the most beautiful library), I would often find myself so involved in the lives of my characters that I had trouble stepping back into reality. Sometimes at the end of a day sat in front of the laptop, or scribbling in notebooks, I'd struggle to be present when my partner came home from work, or when I went out with friends. For a while, I was caught between the two worlds; in a kind of no-man's land; neither fully present in one reality or the other. Slowly, I'd move away from the place I'd inhabited all day and settle back into the physical world. Now, I find myself struggling to make the journey in reverse. My busy day of seemingly endless tasks and the relentless demands and needs of little people is hard to shrug off. I wish I could switch into my creative mindset with more ease. There is so little time in the evening, and I feel as if I'm only just warming up, when it's time to turn-in for the night. And always there is the nagging awareness that I should probably be getting organised for tomorrow, sweeping the floor and tidying the toys, planning meals and activities, folding laundry...and not ignoring it all and dreaming up stories about people who don't exist outside of my head.
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