by Kasey Tross
Once upon a time, there were two people, Mike and Ted. They both enjoyed creating art. They both had other interests as well, but art was at the top of the list. They did it whenever they had a chance. They studied great artists and tried to expand their artistic horizons with new techniques. Art was their passion.
Mike was very talented, but since he had another job, he never really called himself an artist. When it would come up in conversation he'd say something like, "Oh, I just like to make art sometimes.” In his mind, however, he dreamt that someday he'd have the time to create more pieces and the guts to get it into a gallery, or enter an art contest or something. But he just wasn’t sure if he had any talent, so he rarely shared his work with anyone.
Ted felt the same way as Mike. He dreamed of making it big with his art someday and being able to quit his regular job and do it full time. But Ted was so passionate about it that when it came up in conversation, Ted would say, "I'm a computer consultant. And I'm also an artist." Ted, like Mike, had never had a piece on exhibit, and never sold any of his work. His work wasn't any better than Mike’s, and, like Mike, he didn’t know if it was any good. But because he created it and he was passionate about it, he boldly proclaimed to the world that yes, he was an artist.
Eventually, word spread that Ted was an artist. Friends found this side of him fascinating, and one day, a friend who had spoken with Ted about his passion passed his name on to a woman who happened to be looking for an artist to do a low-budget mural in a public space. The friend got Ted in contact with the woman, Ted showed her some of his work, and before Ted knew it, he had a paid gig.
Because the mural was in a public space, Ted the Artist got his name in the paper, and because he had done such a nice job, the woman passed his name on to other professionals, who began to offer Ted more regular jobs. His confidence soared, and the steady work pushed him and improved his skills. A gallery soon approached him for an exhibition, and after a few years of commissions and some gallery sales soon Ted was able to quit his job and become a full-time artist.
One day Mike saw Ted’s art in a gallery. He sighed and said to himself, "I wish I could be a real artist."
The moral of the story? You are what you say you are. Mike was a real artist, but he refused to believe enough in himself to call himself an artist. And because he refused to believe in himself, nobody else believed in him either.
I shared this "Tale of Two Artists" because Ted's story is similar to mine, though I’m still in the middle of mine. I had a couple of confidence-boosting accomplishments (like winning the short story contest right here at MMW and being invited to become a regular contributor) that pushed me to finally call myself a writer. Because I "came out" as a writer, someone recommended me to one of their family members for a paid gig, which I accepted and completed, and soon I had another friend asking me for help with a project, for which I would be compensated, and then, before I knew it, another friend-of-a-friend happened to be getting in on the ground floor of a new local magazine and offered me a writing position there.
All of these things didn't start happening until I owned the title of writer. Once I did, it was like people said, "Oh, you're a writer? Well why didn't you say so?" When the work started pouring in and I started completing it- and not just completing it, but getting paid and putting smiles on my clients' faces, I realized, I can do this. And I can do more. That was when I started writing my book. And then I started attending writing classes and conferences. Because I am a WRITER!
If you are reading this blog, if you are passionate about writing, then please, please, call yourself a writer. Ignore that little voice in your head that says, But I've never been published. But my work isn't even that good. Now J.K. Rowling- THERE'S a writer.
Just stop it. You. are. a. writer. Get over yourself and admit it already. Because when you believe in yourself? That is when the magic begins...