I’ve always had the problem of trying to decide whether I’m a writer or an artist. Or neither of those things and, in the worst case but most likely scenario, a dropkick. Fact is, my love of both writing and art—the need to balance these passions—created in me a fascination with multimedia. That’s kind of where I’m headed with the following spiel, but you’ll need to bear with me through a bit of self-searching.
It can be tiring to identify as a writer one month, a visual/graphic artist the next. It can be especially vexing when one feels spread thin over two identities, unable to spec into just one or the other, to get good enough at either. A jack of two trades, master of only unfocussed anxiety.
I’m well aware that I won’t so easily be able to switch my primary source of income as I switch my hobby of the day. Actually, that unfocussed anxiety I mentioned has been quite focused on one thing lately, and that’s making a living. I’ve been telling myself: if you can’t focus your efforts towards building a client base in either or any field, you’ll end up spending the remainder of your working days in the fast food industry, with little time for doodles or scribbles.
Most recently, I have apparently decided that the Art world is where the money is: graphic design, the games industry, illustrating. While focussing on these things alone, I tend to do things like let my novel gather dust, lose inspiration for poetry… it feels like I just run out of things to say, really. And it doesn’t feel right. It has also felt wrong anytime I’ve focussed months at a time on writing my novel, on poetry, neglecting art. And drawing is really a skill that needs maintaining—it feels just awful to think of yourself at least partially as an artist, only to discover you draw like you’ve lost both thumbs. When I think about it, you can also lose confidence in your own voice after a long spell of writer’s block, just as you can lose your direction of style as well as skill in art. As someone who is bi-vocational, and not very organised, I can feel a bit lost.
My love of visual art, the way imagery conveys narrative, is what brought me to writing at a young age—it was the lure of the story-telling medium. I’ve found the best of both worlds exists in writing and illustrating my own stories. I also realise that publishers often prefer you not to illustrate your manuscripts, or design your own book jackets. They have people for that, I believe. But, you know, William Blake was someone who embraced that form of multimedia, with his printed plates of poetry and art. He was also dirt poor, but an influential figure nonetheless. His art lives still - and that’s something that reminds me of why I didn’t just cave and get a science degree. Do I want to get by, or do I want to focus my efforts into making the kind of things I love that might just last a little longer than myself?
I honestly don’t know. It’d be nice to live on a farm in New Zealand with my brother’s girlfriend, Charlotte, and spend my days on the graphic design for her potential/inevitable bee keeping business. (You said that was an option, Charlotte.) It’d be nice to have a steady income, or a reliable flow of clients wanting illustration, web design, or story editing. It’d also be nice to publish my novels traditionally, get famous, support my dogs and cats and boyfriend forever after. But I think it would be great to make something unique and time-resistant—something bright, like the Tyger.
To create this bright thing, I know I have to own both parts of me. I am a writer, and I am an artist. So, I guess this is my coming out as proudly (if begrudgingly) bi-vocational.