No guarantees

It’s midnight and the best thing I can say about Wednesday is: it’s over. This was one of those days when the frustration and stress level got so high, that I actually began to think I might have done something truly evil and was being punished by an Avenging Spirit. Most likely, I’m still reeling emotionally from the blow I was dealt by my agent when she rejected my last novel. It’s hard to recover from a thing like that. And I began thinking today about my career and how it isn’t going the way I’d like it to.  Hold on, I’m not whining. I have a point. Here it is:

In a creative career, there are no guarantees.

My husband works in corporate America and over the years, I have watched him climb up the ladder, working hard, being consistent, and earning his stripes, the money that comes with the stripes, and even the headaches that come with standing at the top. And though I know I work equally as hard, and that I am as skilled in my field as he is in his own, in a creative career there is no ladder. There is no certain path. Working hard and long isn’t all there is. There is natural ability. There is confidence. There is luck and timing. And after all of that, there is even more luck.

Lots of people want to work in the arts: writers, actors, painters, musicians. Of these the only group that has a prayer of a guarantee that their hours working has direct correlation to how well they do as artists, are musicians. At least according to Gladwell’s Outliers. So what’s the thing that keeps artists going? Is it sheer force of will? Is it self-confidence, despite the worry of being delusional? Is it the feeling of I-was-meant-to-do-this?

I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that on days like yesterday the thing that comforts me is knowing that what I do, I do for my family and for that little-girl part of me who always wanted to grow up and be a writer. I do it because on most days, it makes me happy.