Wednesday, July 1, 2009

At the crossroads

In the past year, doors have opened for me. I am more productive and have more stamina. I have taken on new challenges including a new job, writing new material, becoming a columnist for Majestic, and more opportunities for public speaking. I look at my calendar and things have really picked up. I confess I spend more time than I should on Facebook and email. Sometimes a phone call or face-to-face contact is better.

I'm at the crossroads in a way. I have different directions in which to grow. One is more involvement within the mental health community. The other is my quest to become a successful artist or writer. Where do I go from here? To aid mental health consumers, families, students and staff can be rewarding. I provide insights, information, encouragement, support, and a sense of hope. Families that feel isolated and unable to help a mentally ill sibling or child need to have their concerns heard. Students in related disciplines benefit from hearing my experiences, both good and bad.

As an artist, I feel I have ability but maybe not the skills or motivation to market my work. I know people enjoy my paintings, but I don't sell enough work to make it a feasible career right now. Maybe in the future, as I mature, my painting will evolve into something more intellectual or complex with more subtle variation. Finally, writing is my main focus these days. After six years of practice, rejection letters, tough critiques, reviewing others' writing and meeting other writers online, I think I've gained more ability to discern between good and bad writing. It was suggested to me that I consider writing children's books, or graphic novels to combine my art and writing.

For me, creativity is cyclical. I work hard for weeks on end to write the best I can. Or I spend hours on a painting totally engrossed. I might stop for a breather, but I keep going until I'm done. No one cracks a whip and says that I have to finish a piece of work by a certain date. Rather I want to keep on it while it's still fresh in my mind. If you break the flow, sometimes you lose a thought or detail. Also I need to keep consistency so I hold the novel in my mind as a whole.

Which road do I take? Is it possible to move in three directions at once? The answer is yes. Time management is the key. I like to have flexibility and variation in my schedule. However, I need time to smell the roses too. I think the proof is in the pudding. My experience in the past is that my efforts have had good results. I didn't need to sacrifice one choice over another to be effective. In fact, the people I meet, my job and other activities enrich my worldview and contribute to my writing and art.

I encourage you to keep focused on your life goals and values. As Mr. Spock says, "live well and prosper."

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