Even though it is almost impossible for me to say out loud, I think in some ways I do think of myself as a form of artist. Of course, there are many forms of artists, but what lies at the core of it is the pursuit of a craft – an art. In my opinion, almost anything can be a form of art depending on how you approach and view your craft. For me, my craft is writing. I am not saying I have any particular affinity or skill, rather it is what I always believed give my life meaning. Not the craft itself, but the pursuit of perfection in my writing.
I will never reach perfection and honestly that is part of what makes me enjoy it. I know that I can always improve, always become better and that I will never run out of things to do. Never will I reach the end – it is a life long pursuit that ends only when my life does and somehow, I find that comforting.
If there was an end to reach somewhere, I fear I would be reluctant to pursue this path, because I cannot imagine my life without writing – well, perhaps storytelling is a better word actually.
Whether it is a story created from my imagination that I write down (and hopefully one day share with the world), my fan-fiction (which I love to imagine and write – is there really a greater compliment to a writer than readers loving your work so much that they feel the need or desire to expand upon it?), sharing the real life stories of others – friends, family and strangers alike – or sharing my own life experiences and thoughts or feelings with all of you… Yes, that is truly as important to my own continued existence as breathing. Without this pursuit I would be nothing.
I think, not everyone has this feeling about one particular thing, right?
A lot of material out there is dedicated to things like “Finding your passion” or something similar. I too have read innumerable articles and watched far too many videos on this, not because I didn’t know deep down what gives my life meaning, but more likely because I doubted my own abilities and was hoping to replace this “dream” of mine with something “realistic”.
I never believed that writing could be “a real job” to me. Others? Sure, yes, they don’t need to fight to get by and work odd jobs to make ends meet, no. They can call themselves author or writer and earn a living from their craft. Not me, though.
I don’t have what it takes. I always believed it and wanted desperately to find “my passion”, my true passion, so that I could just pursue my passion and be happy. Storytelling couldn’t be it. It wouldn’t be fair – I’d need to find something suitable for someone as unskilled and useless as me. Give me a chance, okay?
Of course, no matter how far away I looked, no matter where I searched, nothing gave me the feeling I get from writing. If I don’t write I feel worse and worse, my head gets more and more filled with noise and nothing can clear it away except writing. Writing empties me out, soul and mind, and makes me feel calm and good.
I no longer have any doubt, nor have I had any doubt for years, that this is what gives my life purpose. Now, remember, I say it gives my life purpose, I am not saying it only gives me happiness. Sometimes, writing is the most painful thing in the world, and yet, I would not be without it.
Many things in life makes me happy and life without happiness is no life at all – at least not to me. Some would say, I guess, that happiness should be my purpose or the meaning of life, but to me, purpose and happiness are very different things.
Having a sense of purpose can give you direction, but happiness, I feel, doesn’t do that. Many, many things make me happy and if I were to only make life decisions based on happiness, I would probably end up in a very unhappy place. I need a sense of purpose to give my life direction.
The problem for me, however, has been that I forgot that the pursuit of a craft is just that – pursuit of the craft. You can pursue your craft in many different ways and pursuing your craft does not need to be your whole life. It just needs to be a part of it.
One day, perhaps, it can be. One day, if miracles come true, I might be able to earn a living from writing in some way, shape or form, but until that day comes, I must find direction and happiness as well. Just waiting for “my big break” or even just a little break, well, a life can pass before you realise.
I am turning 34 this year. So much of my youth passed and I feel like a failure because my life is nothing like I imagined or hoped. I didn’t truly pursue my craft because of silly things like doubt and fear and oddly enough, this strange feeling of shame. It’s like I’m embarrassed because I have the audacity to pursue this craft – me, of all people, I ought to know my place.
A friend of mine told me something I think is rather clever the other day. He said something like “we sometimes overthink it and forget to just do the craft.” How wonderful and obvious it is! I love that he said that. He too is pursuing his own craft and, like me, struggles at times not to lose hope.
I had just told him that I had come to the conclusion that I needed to give up my grand dreams of earning an income from writing and instead just pursue it as nothing more than a hobby. I needed to find a new dream, a new path, that (without taking me away from writing entirely) could give me purpose in life.
I think, I am probably overthinking everything again. I do feel like I need to make a choice, though. I need to allow myself to dream a new dream, but that doesn’t mean I have to let go of all my old dreams. I can create a new path, a new dream to pursue, and find a way to combine it with my old dream.
I may not know how right at this moment, but I don’t need to know. I don’t even need to know what the new dream is going to be. I need to DO.
I need to simply work on my craft whenever I can and be happy doing it, instead of worrying about whether or not I will ever make a living from it. I need to not worry about whether or not I am writing into an empty void or if someone out there will one day read these words and gain something – anything – from what I create.
That last part is not easy. I do want someone to read what I write, but at the same time, I feel this odd reluctance as well. I feel this strange desire to keep my writing all to myself. Once I share my writing is no longer mine, not really. When I write, I am in control – the text is mine. Once I let it go it no longer belongs to me – if it ever really did.
I think, however, that if we pursue our craft alone we might never really improve as much as we can. We need to involve others; the musician needs an audience to feel their music, the writer needs a reader to feel their text, the dancer, the chef, the painter – the creator needs an audience in some way to truly feel their craft and thus, in return, grow from the reactions and feelings of the audience.
This is actually not at all what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about figuring out how to live life without getting lost chasing a dream that makes life worth living.
We need balance, we need both to live everyday life AND to pursue our dreams or passions or whatever we would like to call it. The name doesn’t matter. Whatever gives our lives purpose, that thing we already know, deep down, that we love in a way that cannot be described, we need to be able to pursue it without losing ourselves to it in a negative way.
We can lose ourselves in our craft, obviously, in a deeply wonderful and positive way – we lose time, feel no hunger or thirst or obtrusive thought – we simply feel our craft. Unless you’ve experienced it, I am sure it sounds a quite silly, but it’s true.
Sometimes, however, we forget about life and get lost, not in doing the craft, but in worrying about it. That’s bad, but it is also what I have been doing for a long time now. I believed too often what people told me, not because it sounded logical or right, but because it sounded just like that voice in the back of my head. That voice that always talks down to us, disregards our successes only to dwell on our failures, the voice at the back of our head that we know we shouldn’t listen to. Well, when others say the same thing as we think deep down, surely it is true, right?
No. It is fear, isn’t it? Just because we fear something and someone else says it doesn’t make it true. It only means they share our fears.
So, what do we do? How do we let go of old dreams and find new dreams? How do we create a different dream from old and new ones? How do we balance it? How do we figure out what dreams we need to pursue and which ones we merely wish we could pursue? Why do we so often avoid the craft that we so desperately need?
I really don’t know. I only know that I cannot let go of writing even though I am embarking on a new journey to create a new dream.
Maybe one day the answer will seem obvious, I definitely hope so, but until that day I can only do this; continue to pursue my craft when I have the time and try to enjoy my new path. One day, I will either have to make a choice between the two or learn how to combine them.
But that day is not yet here, so it’ll be a story for a different day.