2012 on The Stifled Artist

Well folks, it’s the end of 2012. Today is the very last day of this year. It’s hard not to be at the end of a year without reflecting on where one has been and what one has been doing during the past 365 days.

A year ago, I was very driven, in reflection. I had spent the previous year sending out poetry and stories to be published in small indie publications and I had pitched articles for big magazines, retail magazines and small regional magazines. I got more published in the past two years than I had in my entire life. Dozens of poems, stories and articles. I was also writing for a local newspaper and had my own column. I started a kickstarter project so that I could start recording some songs I’d been working on for the previous few years. I was auditioning for bands as lead singer. I was also training heavily for the Russian kettlebell sport.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be a star freelance writer, non-fiction writer, musician and kettlebell athlete all at once. The people around me whom I admired usually had one focus in their lives. If they were writers, they did writing. If they were musicians, they did music. If they were kettlebell athletes, kettlebell was what they focused on.

I had my foot in so many worlds. It was fun for a while, but then I got super burnt out. I spent the early part of 2012 traveling to kettlebell competitions, working heavily on a music project where the goal was a ten-song album, and trying to market myself as a writer in order to procure more writing work, all while working at the library twenty hours a week or more.

Then, after a freelance assignment in Seattle and Portland, my marriage ended, based on a mutual decision between me and my husband of nine years.

In the aftermath, I played more shows than I ever had before. I immersed myself in a community of writers, artists and musicians, moved back to Oakland, reduced my stress load, started living completely within my means on a very limited budget so I didn’t have to work more than the minimum for someone else.

I dropped the kettlebell competitions and pitching any freelance writing articles in lieu of focusing on my transition from married to single. I also decided I needed to pick one art form for the time being to be favored: Music. Writing would remain an outlet, but without the pressure of immediate publication.

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Sometimes, I wonder what the hell I’m doing. I want to travel, I want to work with more musicians until my songs sound like I hear them in my head, I want to go on small tours with a band and eventually, I want to work entirely for myself.

I’ve managed to create a life that is more conducive to my happiness. I climbed up through years of misery working 9 to 5’s and focusing on money, money, money, so I don’t need to explore that anymore, though I do have some student loan debts hanging over my head. I’d rather have less money and more time. I’ve always been that way. The pressure from society to slave away for future happiness is out of control.

I’m not really sure what I’m doing now, aside from just working towards more. More music, more solid positive friendships, more acceptance and enjoyment of every day life, more peace and space.

It is so hard not to compare myself to others more driven, like I was last year, and people who don’t struggle with some of the mental shit I struggle with, like depression and anxiety, weird nervous system issues, etc., but overall, I’m strong and talented and capable, just very impatient. I get anxious I’ll die tomorrow without achieving the basic goals I’ve been working on for years, but am finally learning to focus instead of bemoaning what I don’t have.

If I’ve learned anything this past year, it’s that I can take small steps to change my circumstances once I’ve made up my mind, and that I can succeed in my goals if I have goals to begin with, and am patient.

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How has your past year been artistic endeavor wise? What are you struggling with? What have you achieved? What are your goals in the New Year for your art?

0 comments

  1. Artistically, it’s been good. I’ve been displayed as half of a two person show. Also, my work has won awards. The only thing that didn’t happen was my second photography book that I hoped to have finished by now (definitely next year).

    Have a blessed and creative New Year!

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