ARTS OF THE HUSTLE: THE GRIND OF MAKING A LIVING FROM YOUR CRAFT

Person in Pink T Shirt Holding Brown Electric Guitar Walking on Blacktop Road during Daytime

“You might be starving, but you’re working toward something greater?”


The life of an artist is rough, but if you have something great, you have to keep going strong. But it’s tough when there are so many people, especially those in your age range, who are doing much more than you at the moment. Even though that’s not saying much, it’s still more than what you’re doing. But you can’t compare what you are doing to what they are doing. Your grind, your climb, your road to success is a lot different than them. And you have to embrace the journey along the way. Yet along that journey, there are some things you need to keep in mind as you are climbing toward your goals as an artist. You should always keep your day job in lieu of your craft, be prepared to sacrifice, learn to listen to those worth listening to, embrace the rough periods, put in the time & ready yourself, and know when you’re getting better.

The first bit of advice I have regarding keeping your day job is practical. Don’t just up and quite your job because you are pursuing your craft. I myself work two part-time jobs that subsidize my living while I pursue screenwriting/filmmaking. I have worked jobs ranging from retail to administrative, ushering concerts to small theatre roles. You take on every gig you can take in order to make room for you to stay working at your craft. Which also ties into the next bit of advice. You should also be prepared to sacrifice a lot along your journey. You will have to sit by and watch your enjoying their youth and building intimate relationships. Meanwhile, you’re building slowly while they live. And to add to it, there is no guarantee you’ll succeed. So you just grind away in pain, all the while you neglect aspects of your youth just to push forward in something you love.

And with so much sacrifice that comes with building your dream, you will have the nay-sayers. These are the people who will tell you to give up and quite. They’ll tell you to go and find something better else to do rather than build your dream. They will project their fears onto you because they see you doing something that they can’t accomplish. So to them you must not know what you’re doing. Because why would they be doing what they’re doing. In a very passive way they’re telling you not only are you no good, but you couldn’t possibly be better than them. And on top of the people rooting against you, there are the rough periods that will come along with the climb. These are the times of rough mental and economic obstacles. And what do I really mean by these rough obstacles? Well here is what I mean.

When you’re going through all these rough periods in life, it makes you realize certain aspects about yourself. You first realize how easy it truly is to live alone. You are afraid of being alone, but once you realize the people in your corner versus those that aren’t, it makes the times when you are doing well worth cutting people off. You also learn that along the way, you can live with a lot less than you thought you could at first. For me, I grew up in a poor household, so I thought the only way for me to be well off was to be very rich. Then I realized the real amount of money I would minimally need to make to live. Then pursuing my dream became much easier to fight for in life. And the reason why I have not lost hope is because I have been able to live off the bare necessities, but I also put the time into my work.

And putting the time in is very important. People talk about their craft, yet they barely work at doing what they say they want to do. You have to put yourself in position to make things happen to you. Put yourself in harms way and see what transpires out of the work. Then when you do get your big break, you have prepared yourself to jump right in. Like the old formula of life, opportunity + preparation = successful outcomes. And all of what I have said prior must be coupled together with an understanding of knowing when you’re getting better. Reach out to people and get feedback on your work. And don’t just ask friends and family; ask people with no real attachment so you know how people really feel. Family and friends will always cosign, yet the people will be honest. And in the end, put your soul into whatever it is you do. Even with no guarantee of success; know that you can fail and fall flat on your face but you do it anyways.


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Our Deepest Fears: What Marianne’s Words Meant To Me.

“Our Deepest fears are not that we are inadequate…”

The author Marianne Williamson stated in her novel A Return to Love that, “Our deepest fears are not that we are inadequate.” “Our deepest fears is that we are powerful beyond measure it is our light not our darkness that’s most frightens us.” The entire passage is one that I have come to know by heart because the meaning behind the words resonate so much with me. The quote prior resonates because you would think people would be afraid of their failures in life, yet it is success that scares them the most.

Well why does success scare people so much? Is it that they won’t be able to handle the attention that comes with it? Or is it the idea that the more you give to people the more they want; and you fear not being able to satisfy their need? Marianne went to answer these questions by saying, “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous.” “Actually who are you not to be?” Which only meant, when you look into the mirror, why second guess the reason you are in the position you’re in or was given the talents you possess? Why not you?

Marianne went on to state, “Your playing small does not serve the world.” “There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure when they’re around you.” We who possess such skills that set us apart from everybody else forces you to want to take a step back. We want to run with the pack even though we run faster than anyone in the pack. Why? Because we don’t want anyone else to feel insecure because they can’t keep up. So what do we do, we run with the group because we think it makes us noble. But it actually uncovers a character flaw that exist inside of us.

She let us know that, “You were made to manifest the glory of God that is within you.” “It’s not in some of us, it’s in everyone.” “And as you let your own light shine, you can unconsciously give others permission to do the same.” “As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” These quotes let us know that your power that you possess is not just in you it’s in everyone around you. The only difference between you and them, is that you actually will do what they only dream of doing. But once you step out into the world fearless and confident, this confidence frees up so many other people seeking to be just as great as you.

What’s interesting about Marianne Williamson’s novel, A Return to Love, is that our deepest is only a passage in the book. The book contained so much more than our deepest fears, yet our deepest fears are the constraints which harbor so many people from being the greatest version of them they can be. How did this passage help me? It freed me up to pursue my dreams in life. Dreams so many will never attempt; becoming a successful author and filmmaker.

You see, growing up for me was about going to college attaining your education. Upon leaving school, finding a job that not only pays every two weeks, but hopefully one which will assist in paying for graduate school in the process. Well, while going to graduate school, I found myself looking over my screenplay which had not been completed. Writing the script was a daunting task. So difficult I tossed it partially finished and continued to pursue my MBA. It wasn’t until I was almost complete with my degree I felt a lack of accomplishment.

Why? Because I was not pursuing anything I was passionately willing to do for the rest of my life. It was while finishing up my MBA I began to work more in New York City’s theatre scene that I picked-up my script once again. Finishing the script I took on new ideas and a new way of thinking. It was then I knew I didn’t belong in a corporate environment. Because the stories I have to tell, people need to read and listen to. That’s when Marianne’s passage started to resonate with me. My only reasons for not pursuing my dreams is not out of failure, it was fear of what comes with the success.

But the cost of me doing nothing felt like much more hurtful than doing something. I can live with working toward something and failing. What I cannot live with is the idea of reaching the age of 70, 80, or even 90, looking back going I should have. Because if you ask any man or woman in their elderly years what was their biggest regret in life they’ll tell you it’s no being reaching for the greatest them they could be. And that is more of a fear for me than anything in life. Getting to the end of my life and realizing it was for nothing. People might look and go, it looked nice to me, but what was it for me. Regret is one of the biggest pains of anyone in life. So in closing I say thank you Marianne, those words have been that bit of logic that have stuck with me for the past few years now. Those words as I journey through this tough terrain as a novelist and filmmaker: “Our deepest fears are that we are inadequate.” “Are deepest fears are that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Oops Mom and Dad, Sorry To Disappoint

Graduate from high school, go to college, spend four years trying to figure out what to do. Leave college get a job while working on your Masters Degree. Attain your degree, try to get a better job afterward. Settle into a job, wake up early in the A.M., get to work by 9:00 A.M. Work until your lunch break at 12:00 P.M. Come back form your lunch break, work until 5:00 P.M., then come home. Cook dinner, go to sleep; do this for five days per week. Wake up on Saturday and lounge around, or do shopping. On Sunday, go to church, leave service and go out to eat. Come home and rest until it’s time for you to go to sleep. You do this from your mid/late 20’s until you retire at age 65 years of age. Once you retire spend your days sitting in a rocking chair and then you die. You are expected to live like this and if you don’t, you’re considered irresponsible. But to me, I felt this was not how I want to live my life. I am embarking on my journey of prosperity as well as happiness. I wonder how may people are happy living their day-to-day existence.

My life is something different and sets me aside from the norm. I did all the things up until the point except after undergraduate school, putting myself on a collision course with another path. I graduated high school, went off to undergraduate school, but veered off course once I got to graduate school. Entering graduate school pursuing my MBA, I was still up in the air regarding my future. Finishing my first screenplay during this time period while going on job interviews made me realize my true passion. Filmmaking made me understand this is where I belong as well as writing my books. It gave me the ability to do something that I could not do on a daily job; and that was being honest and open. When you work a day, there is so much censorship that you don’t worry about being an independent writer. You are expected to put on a suit and tie, and conform to the control of a supervisor; who by the way has the freedom you are restricted form having. That freedom they have and control over your life made me realize the construct I would have to work within. It has nothing to do with real structure, but more about a few individuals having a position of control over the majority. And if you even question something you disagree with, you are reprimanded for insubordination for the questioning.

So what do parents have to do with all of this; simple, following your passion is highly discouraged. Parents want their children to go to school, get out, shut up, follow the status quo, get your pay check, and go home. But when you are unhappy regarding your situation, they are puzzled. Everyone expects you to fall in line, but can’t figure out why it’s so depressing. Unlike most, I have decided to follow my passion: filmmaking, writing novels, and photography. You would think people who be behind you, but you receive more discouragement than encouragement. What’s shocking is that your are not hanging around doing nothing, yet you are looked at as some young person wasting your life. Stepping out and creating a career rather than taking a job is seen as some sort of let down. You have not chosen the road most take and because of that you have failed; failed your parents, your family, your friends, and society. How come no one sees your vision? Why is it seen as a waste of life? Because people assume they can’t do it so you can’t, or the difficulty is such that most fail and few succeed.

The reason for the most part that parents are resistant is because taking a job is an easier way out. There is not only a plan, but a process from school to work to retirement. “Play life safe,” they tell you. The only problem with this, is that playing life safe won’t lead to satisfaction in life nor will it lead to higher returns in your career. It’s tough coming from parents because that is what they are suppose to do. It’s their job to be that overbearing because they have been through the greater portion of life. They know what comes with entering the world and what will be expected of you. What’s funny about all of this I have explained, is that in the end, they respect you more when you carve out your future. It’s confusing because not listening to your parents is a sign of disobedience, yet you have to veer off from their guidance sometimes. Why, well they are not living this life, you are. You have to do what makes you happy because your happiness is key to your stability both financially and economically. Trust me, when do succeed at what it is you’re pursuing, they will respect you more. They will know that what you have talked up is not just some pipe dream, but yet a future you have so diligently worked at. And for that they will say I am proud of you.