We are all more than one person. Spouse, employee, employer, creative spark, gardener, volunteer. Sibling, lover of animals, car driver, floor scrubber, shower lover. Many people show up at various times of day and we need them all.
So why is it hard for at least three-quarters of the people I meet to be comfortable with the fact that I am a writer, a writing instructor, a coach, a developer of training programs, a writer of poems and an artist? This week, I have been asked, in all seriousness, at least four times, “Well, how do you see yourself? Which one of these things is your MAIN interest?” All of them. I don’t have favorites, although from day to day, one or the other may make me cranky.
These people seem to think that I should make money from only one activity. One source. Any more and they become suspicious. Someone criticized me this week for my “professional site being mixed up with your art.” Well, it’s who I am. It’s what I do. I think in metaphors. I write poetry as training exercises. Except for the poems that are collages. I’m not sure about them, yet.
It’s not scary, is it? Then don’t make me choose.
I have long admired artists who dive into their art and are fully consumed by it. Who explore in the face of other people’s mocking comments, who stick with what they love doing until they are done with it. J.K. Rowling got turned down a dozen times before a publisher saw the wonder of her Harry Potter books. One of her quotes always makes me smile: “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
Our friends don’t want us to be multi-faceted either. Some years ago, a friend of mine asked, “So are you a writer or are you an artist, because I don’t think I can handle both.” When I asked my friend (now in a post–friendship stage) what made it hard, she said, “I feel like I can’t pin you down.” As if that were important.
When I teach, I am completely a teacher. When I’m doing art, I am completely an artist. It’s easy not to confuse the roles. So what’s the problem?
—Quinn McDonald is a lot of things. She loves being them all.