“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” ― Napoleon Hill
“Most people take the limits of their vision to be the limits of the world. A few do not. Join them.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for.” -Frank Stokes, played by George Clooney in The Monuments Men
My dream is coming true. The novel I started fifteen years ago, then set aside for ten or eleven years, is nearly ready for final revisions and edits. I don’t know about you, but when I finish a big creative project, like directing a play, or finishing a semester of teaching, I like to spend a bit of time in reflection. So, even though my book isn’t completely finished, I’m already beginning that process.
Writing this book has taken much longer than I thought it would. There were times when I wasn’t sure I should stick with it. I mean, to commit to doing this project, my husband and I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices. What if my book doesn’t sell? Will the sacrifices have been worth it? My answer is an unqualified, YES!
Becoming an artist/entrepreneur was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in my life. Working for yourself, is completely different than working for someone else. First of all I had to get used to setting my work schedule. If you work in your home, there are so many distractions to keep you from getting down to the business of work. It took me a year or two to get into a productive routine.
For the longest time, I’d do all my teaching duties first. I teach online and face to face theatre classes at the local community college. In my mind, I was getting all the more mundane, routine tasks out of the way first, so I could concentrate on what I really wanted to do. I’d read that advice in a writer’s newsletter, and I bought into it. Unfortunately, when I did this, I never seemed to have much time to write. That was one of the things that contributed taking so long to complete my novel.
Not long ago, I read Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art. It’s a slim little volume, that is a must read for anyone who wants to create a business, or become an artist. Shortly before I read the book, I’d discovered that I had to devote myself to writing before I did anything else that day. I had to flip the paradigm of getting all the unpleasant tasks out of the way first. When I did that, my entire world changed. That realization, and Pressfield’s book helped me see that to make a difference in the world, I must commit to my calling first above all else. He calls it, becoming a professional, as opposed to being an amateur who just dabbles.
Another thing I’ve learned is that sacrifice is part of being a professional anything. Entrepreneurs don’t have an easy time of creating that business, or that piece of art. It’s normal to feel bogged down and depressed from time-to-time. Even though there is a tremendous amount of freedom in working for yourself, there are uncertain times ahead. Failure is a part of the process. You have to be willing to fall flat on your face, then pick yourself up and try again. Yet, I know if I don’t give up, what I create just might change someone’s life, and that makes what I do each day worthwhile. When I feel discouraged, I remember all the wonderful books, plays and works of art that have helped me throughout my life.
I can think of many examples of this from when Barry and I took our trip around the world. We made a point of seeing as much art as we could, partly because we’re both artists, though in different fields. But mostly because, you can’t really learn anything about a culture without seeing the artwork produced by the citizens of that country over the centuries. Art and architecture give vital clues to how people lived and thought.
When we were in Greece we climbed up the Acropolis. They were just beginning the process of restoring the Parthenon. Near it was a museum with many pieces of art from the Golden Age of Athens. They are many centuries old. I was inspired by it all. One particular piece I loved was The Charioteer of Delphi. Part of the reason I was drawn to it was because it’s a life size bronze sculpture with amazing detail. It has eyes that look almost real and even have eyelashes. Another reason I was drawn to it was because it comes from the era when theatre was born in Ancient Greece. I remember just standing and looking at it for a very long time. If you’ve never seen artwork by master artists, you’re missing something. They give off an energy that is beyond description. That’s how I felt time and time again during that trip. That’s how I feel when I read a great book or see a wonderful film.
The reason I mention this particular sculpture, is because I saw it again briefly in the movie The Monuments Men. The Charioteer was one of the millions of pieces of art that were stolen by the Nazi’s, and then recovered, and returned during WW II. If it hadn’t been recovered, I would never have been able to be touched by it’s immense beauty and detail.
Now, I’m not saying that my novel will survive for twenty-six centuries. We only have a fraction of the earliest Greek plays. Pottery, stone buildings, and sculptures last longer than the materials that the written word is recorded upon. But, again, my novel may help someone gain a new perspective, or pass some pleasant hours when they aren’t thinking about their problems. That’s good enough for me.
So, after working for other people, where most of the time I didn’t feel appreciated, I’ll take working for myself any day, because I want to create, and leave behind something of value.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014