when a person/peoples believe in you, it can be pretty powerful.
Validation goes a long way. Especially in these days of instant social gratification (“look at me! I have posted a photo of Gandalf saying something droll! And someone from the cast of Full House ‘liked’ it!!” (this never happened to me)).. you can grow rather lonely waiting for a project or idea to percolate without an “atta boy/girl/naked squirrel” applied at the right place/time.
This can cause havoc with your discipline. But you get to a point where it’s just not PROFESSIONAL anymore to need constant love and coddling from the folks who surround you in order to work. It is this that has finally made me realize The Thing. The Answer to The Big Question.
When is one a professional?
I used to think “when one gets paid.” After a while, this didn’t make a lot of sense to me. It didn’t make sense to me because people are constantly getting paid to do sub-par work. I have done some of my most ridiculous, unrecognized and informal sit-ins with names that would look nice on my résumé, and I didn’t stick around to pursue further work and schmooze time on further opportunities in some of those directions. I seriously don’t talk about the time I played once at a little show with such-and-such because they’d be all “who the hell is she?” And usually at the time I was being professional in other capacities that look spotty and ridiculous now; mostly getting poorly paid at gigs which don’t matter. But I learned a lot at every gig that didn’t matter – sometimes picking up really important skills that translated well. Usually learning something like “don’t do ThIs or That, it doesn’t work.”
I haven’t been consistently paid in a long time. When those days do come, I bet the source/s of income will look very different than I ever imagined they might. I’m going to have to get creative to succeed at being me, and make up being profitable at it; simply because I don’t think that way. I haven’t even gotten the foot out the door of “make really bad ass content available.” Moving out of Thinking time into Doing is scary, particularly when you shut the door because it’s time for your Validating Individuals who Love and Care to do Their Own Things and Not Your Drama. Then it is All You and Oh My God I need cake right now.
And so, what do I think, of Work?
I think I am producing content. I think that I’m busy. Perhaps I am working, even. But I don’t know if I’m getting the job done. I may have to write another job description, and fire my ass. Perhaps I will hire another Me.
I certainly feel like I work all the time. At the moment, most of the things that I do I think of as practice, to justify the unpaid nature of it all. But I have withdrawn a bit because I have things on the back burner that are not items for practice. I “haven’t had time” to do them. I’ve been distracted.
I think it might have something to do with validation, with belief. When I started doing these contests, for instance, they were a mixed blessing. They came with communities. And the communities both held you up and back. When you’re in a group of people, you start feeling like you should do things to fit the mold, even if it hasn’t been communicated that you should. That’s just crowd ethic, perhaps. It’s not law though.
Joining communities that do things recreationally that I’m trying to break into professionally, even if the lines are really blurry, is going to continue to confuse me. It’s silly not to keep it up since I think I’ve made some lifelong relationships; but it’s also dumb to let my whole life continue to be swallowed up by it all.
I played some songs I wrote in the early 2000s. Some even earlier. I was already doing well. I was writing with confidence. I had a style I owned. Lately, I write songs as though I listened to song reviews, tried to insert several other people’s concepts of how to write hooks, and then lost how I put stories down into words to sing against verses. And I need to take what I have been given and remember how I used to flow with it.
I love my work and lately, I haven’t as much. But I think it’s slowly starting to change back.
I keep Almost finding an audience, a niche. Then I pull back, last second, and settle into the warm womb of relationships. Collaboration. I don’t trust my own gut. I don’t sit in my own silence. I’ve always trusted what I had to say before. This fear is a new thing, brought on by too many surrounding voices. Too much need for approval and too much stimuli.
It’s been both good and bad. Mostly good.
I think it’s about balance. And the things that stick, you keep. Hopefully, the rest shakes off okay.