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Saturday, January 10, 2015

On Creative Goals and Their Ghosts


My focus as far as my creative goals has changed so many times over the years. Except the older I get and the more I change, the more I realize I'm really just circling back around to where I used to be when I was a kid that was just getting started with all of this. I feel like I was very focused on getting my "vision" out there at one point -- telling my stories and living/breathing/crapping art all the time. I wanted to be recognized for what I was doing. I wanted to make a living via my art. I think I hoped setting and reaching those goals would somehow validate the image I wanted to have of myself.

I'm not sure how or why, but somewhere along the way, I really stopped caring. Then I almost began to move in reverse. These days, I sometimes seek to avoid recognition altogether -- very reminiscent of me as a child or teen. In fact, I'm almost scaring myself with how nonchalantly I turn down opportunities to be recognized or celebrated for anything that I'm doing these days.

For instance, not that long ago, I was contacted by a staff member at one of the freelance sites I belong to. The site puts out this little motivational newsletter thing at the start of each new year featuring various "success stories" that have made names for themselves freelancing via their interface. This staff member was inviting me to tell my own story and share the secrets of my success with other freelancers that hope to be where I am one day. I declined the opportunity at the time and I'd honestly forgotten all about it a while ago. I was only reminded when the finished version of this newsletter made its way into my inbox around New Year's.

I'm not sure of all the reasons why I decided not to participate. I do, however, remember thinking: "Uh... what success?" I'm not rich or even well-off because of my writing. I'm not really published in any way that's worth speaking of. I'm definitely not doing the kind of writing I consider myself to be best at. Once upon a time, I was solely a fiction writer, poet, and blogger. That said, the fact that I make my living writing filler web content and advertising copy actually makes me feel like kind of a sell-out. I do it because there's a demand for it and I need the money, not because I enjoy it or consider it to be my calling. I don't and it isn't. 

I wondered what I could possibly have to say that would actually motivate anyone. If I were to tell the truth, I'd have to say that I'm not really happy doing what I'm doing. That my freelance writing was kind of something I wound up doing by accident and that I've seriously considered quitting in favor of making sandwiches or pizzas for a living because it wouldn't require me to work as hard. I'd have to admit that the only reason I didn't just do that is sandwich-making would require me to put on pants and be an active part of society again while freelance copywriting does not. I'd have to tell people that any success I've achieved is really kind of a fluke and that I don't have any real goals as far as my future as a writer beyond: "As long as I still need the money, I'll keep doing it. When I no longer do, I'll stop."

And I will only do the "honest and transparent" thing these days, so making up some inspirational tale and giving people a bullshit motivational speech I don't mean a word of was out of the question. I really didn't want to feel like even more of a sellout. I went through something similar years ago when I was invited to come speak at my old high school on the topic of what it's like to be a successful working artist. I was just thinking: "Not only am I not particularly successful, but I'm the last person that young, impressionable people should be trying to emulate."

All that said, I've been wondering lately. What are my current goals as a creative individual? Do I even have any? I'm not at all sure that I do and maybe that's for the best. Honestly, my better creative moments have come about when I wasn't focused on making money or "getting somewhere" with my efforts at all. I really just kind of want to go back to drawing fan art portraits because they're fun... or writing poetry because it makes me happy. And then possibly not showing any of it to anybody for any reason. If those things do see the light of day, I doubt I'll be trying to sell them. As much as I love money, it really does fuck everything up.