An Art or A Job?
Too many people starting off to become writers take on a very unrealistic view of themselves as artists (spelled with a capital 'A'). They wander around their cities or towns, a notebook under their arm, pen in their pocket, waiting for the elusive inspiration to fall from the sky. Inspiration to them is a divine thing sent down as a whole cloth with nothing lacking but their own precious name under the title.
Maybe this works a time or two, but eventually the muse will abandon them. They tear at their hair, they blame the quality of their pen, or the mundane nature of the world they live in, or the company they keep. Truth be told, the muse packed it in because he/she/it realized that they were doing all the heavy lifting. They didn't abandon John Q. Smith, Genius. They went looking for a partner in the endeavor. Someone who was willing to put in the W-O-R-K!
That's what 99% of art is - Work. Standing before an easel, picking up a maul and chisel, or sitting in front of a keyboard. It's the repetitious doing of those tasks that leads to the success your looking for. Doodling, noodling, and composing really bad sentences for hours on end. The inspiration lies in the experimentation, the one-in-ten attempts that yield a thought or project worth pursuing.
Here we are in the holiday season and I am sitting in front of my terminal five to seven hours a day, six days a week working on rewrites and outlines, sending out submissions, keeping track of what got sent where and how long it's been there. When I'm not actively working on poetry, prose, or painting, I'm researching possibilities for a piece. I'm in libraries or museums. I'm on the road or flying somewhere and absorbing the places I where arrive and the people I encounter. I relax with music, recorded, live, and what little I can create on my instruments, and I read-read-read!
I'm one of those people you encounter at open mic's. Like a good blues or jazz musician, it's not above me to - Uh - borrow a line, or a character, or a theme. But mostly I sit here, like I am at this moment, banging at keys. Has any of it made me famous? No, well maybe in some small ways, but I have the satisfaction of knowing I've reached audiences in any number of venues and, with the grace of that muse, and a lot of my own time and effort, have found the words to reach into their hearts and minds and deliver something that either lightened their load or let them know they weren't alone. All because I put in the TIME!