Interesting conversations with readers give me a lot to think about, so I like to provide a platform for those conversations.
Someone recently brought up amateur/aspiring v. professional.
I have known people who create guidelines for when a person can call himself or herself an author (or even a writer). It’s the same with most artists. Are they amateur and aspiring or professional and experienced?
Many of us have had this burning passion or determination to do something since childhood. Ideas and urges came, and we responded. We delivered. I feel we know whether we identify as poets, writers, artists, musicians before we ever have a book published, show our work in a museum or get on stage with a band. We may be aspiring to succeed and to master our crafts, but we are not aspiring to be what we are.
I remember a fifth-grade poetry assignment. The kid behind me copied my poem. When the teacher (nun) caught him, he told her he copied it from a book. I imagine he thought he’d get in less trouble for that, I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted me to go down with him. Nevertheless, she believed him. She asked for the book, and I was so confused that I was trying to find this book that didn’t exist… in my desk. (Nuns raising their voices to me invoked terror.) Then something strange happened. All these kids began calling out that this boy was lying because I was a writer, and I had always been a writer… other ten-year-olds! Amusing as it seems, they touched my heart for a lifetime. She asked me again if I copied the poem from a book, and I finally found the courage to say I didn’t. She gave me a gold star and displayed it on the wall for Parent-Teacher Conference Day. I will never forget this; how the kids knew this thing about me because it was already part of my identity.
As another example, my nephew was drawing since the age of five. I have never seen anything amateur about his approach, his expression, or his final product. (As an aside, he’s amazing.)
People may tell you things like, well you’re not published, you’re not an author, or you’re not a writer, even though you have been doing this thing ever since you can remember.
If there is anything to separate the amateurs from the pros, for me, it is the desire and willingness to give your best and give your all.
Pros focus on mastering their craft. They set goals. It is a priority in their lives, and they will devote as much time to it as is possible. They can’t “not” do it. They know the passion is the fire in their soul. It’s their heart. They know it’s who they are.
Whether we are good or not, that is another story, but we have control over that, too.
From early on, characterization and dialogue were my strengths. Description was my weakness. I was not observant. I kept my mind clouded with other things, the obsessions of the moment. Eventually, I realized I had to work hard on that area, and I did with much success.
There’s no doubt in my mind that we often feel we don’t measure up, as people, as artists. If we believe that, that’s when we work to get better: identify problems, find solutions, expand our knowledge, and hone our skills. The desire exists for a reason, and learning is perpetual. We can always do better. That is all a part of mastering.
© Copyright February 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.