A fabulous online friend posed a wonderful question the other day through email correspondence. While musing over the impact and investment of creativity and business coaches, she asked a very simple question that often pops into my mind.
Are you [hiring a creative coach] to take your photography to the next level or are you trying to build the blog?
As a freelancer with an inner entrepreneur who wrestles with an inner child and an eclectic, though demanding inner artist, this question has no simple answer. As with most major decisions in my life, it depends on the day, the weather, the moon and sometimes the wind.
What it truly boils down to, the true core of the question, who am I and what do I do? Or better yet, what do I produce?
I pose this question, because I’m feeling that need for full on production. I’m approaching that time of the year when I tend to retreat- both literally and figuratively- and the production aspect of what I do kicks in. Not in a monetary manner for clients, but in an artistic manner- for myself and for the sake of producing.
The winter months are my time for artistic endeavors, Walkabouts and wandering, reading and philosophizing and examining the state of my business and my approach towards its future. I literally slow down- in all aspects of my life- and kick back a little.
And my friend’s question and my recent disengagement from the trusty old wifi has me truly analyzing my forward momentum.
Do I move forward as a writer?
Do I move forward as a documentary photographer?
Do I put the wheels in motion for a full blown production studio?
Do I build an online business around my blog?
Do I continue to juggle freelance work, commercial multimedia production and writing for a living and hope to squeeze out some documentary work in the “down time” and hope my clients actually pay their bills so I can fund the documentary work?
Or do I just put everything on the shelf and be a black and white photographer- in a darkroom, coddling her negatives and relishing in the fumes of fixer. (Yes, I like that aroma- go figure)
Or- here’s a nice wrench in the whole argument, do I just retreat from the world, live off the land, relish in the beauty of small town America and do lapidary and photography- just for the sake of itself?
Oh, the tortured logic of an artistic entrepreneur. Because really, they are all wonderful options.
So, I come back to the original question, and it’s not a new one to this blog. Who are you? What do you produce? Why do you follow this line of work? What’s your impact on the world?
And, if someone were to pull the plug on all the technology in the world and we were to revert to the mid 1990s- pre-internet boom- or even worse, the mid 1950s- pre-computer days- where would you be? Or rather- who would you be?
What would you produce? Why would you bother? Who would benefit from your efforts? Would you still be the insatiable entrepreneur- all Atlas Shrugged style or would you be the existential being living by a pond all Thoreau/Walden like?
As we approach another year and start to contemplate our plans for growth, the future and the big picture- maybe we should stop and reevaluate some of these fundamental questions.
Oddly, I pose these questions to myself often- but I never come up with a true answer. And when an answer arises, it usually changes.
But what I do find is that vision- that dream future that I see and am walking towards- usually surfaces after the frantic ADD leaping from one possible career scenario to another possible business option subsides. And once this Medusa-esque beast goes to sleep and I’m left with that one rational voice in my head, that true-self that quietly speaks up after the madness has subsided, I return to one thing.
Storytelling. I am a storyteller. I use images, words and sounds. And I create.
That’s it. You can have the rest. Give me the time and space to create my art. Give me a little food and a dry roof over my head (a train/plane ticket helps too) and I will just create.
Your turn. What do you produce? Why do you produce? If you were take it all away- all the shiny bling of the internet, social media and the computer, what would you be left with?
And be sure to visit Farnoosh’s fabulous blog, Prolific Living, when you have the chance! She prompted this post with her insightful questions. Her blog is wonderful, so spend some time over there!