Why Do You Create?
“Many creators dream of the day when millions of people will listen to their shows, read their books, buy their products, or watch them perform. But what will you bring to the table when you’re performing only for an audience of one — yourself?”
I read this quote about a dozen times. Not ready to answer the question because I was afraid. I had to be honest with myself: “Am I creating for an audience of followers?” “Why do I really take pictures?”
Don’t roll your eyes at me just because you feel you don’t fall into the category of “Artists.” The truth is at some level, we all create. A coach who comes up with new programming, a person who spends long nights coding in order to create remarkable things or just your average person who takes pride in their homemade beer.
Among all of us, we have these things we create and they fall into one of these categories: Job, Career, Vocation or Hobby. Depending where you fall, our whys will vary.
Recently I watched a video of Elizabeth Gilbert, (Author of Big Magic) explaining the differences between jobs, careers, vocations and hobbies. It was from this video I realized that the nagging feeling in my body and mind of needing to finish a photography project comes from a place of vocation. Photography has surpassed the point of hobby for me.
I did not “get into photography” because I felt there was money in it. As a professional photographer I’ve seen and heard many things related to my craft that has definitely left me questioning every bit my existence as a creator. I often get asked/told how little money there is in photography.
“You must have to photograph weddings to pay the bills.” Or “You know, there’s no money in sports photography.”
Really buddy? Thanks for the update, I had no clue. (insert rolling eyes here)
From the minute my chubby fingers could hold a writing utensil of some sort, I created. At a young age I took my mother’s lipsticks and drew my first mural: a cosmetic masterpiece! My second was done when I was 19. It was a piece expressing my heartache of Amadou Diallo’s death. In both instances I had to finish what I was working on because- well… because that’s all I could think of. My work was in my head and it had to made into a real thing I could see and touch.
I spent many years creating, drawing and having ideas come to life. As I got older, my calling changed and I took a different path. I became a teacher.
For the 12 years I was an educator, it felt like my duty to teach children. This feeling was over powering and never did I question my love for teaching. I was dedicated to it and lucky for me, I got paid to do something I loved doing. I was one of the lucky ones because I had a career I wanted to devote my entire life to.
I had great plans of getting my doctrate and maybe even opening up a school one day. I would tell my husband, “If I won the lottery, I would open up a school for children with special needs.”
All this changed when my career turned into a job. Why? Because I was no longer allowed to teach freely. I was weighed down by everything else that came with the profession. Politics, burnt out teachers, budget cuts etc. That’s when I knew it was time to leave it behind and maybe visit teaching at a later point in my life.
When I left the teaching profession, something happened in me. That little girl who couldn’t resist a creating a mural with lipstick came at me like- “Let’s GOOOO!!! We’ve got work to do!!! I’ve been waiting long enough.”
It was one hell of a fight to get back on track, but here I am, with a different perspective on how and why I create.
For those that are curious on the reality of being an adult. Yes, you need to make money. But I wouldn’t dare ask my muse to help me create so I can pay the bills. Shit, if you want to create with the intentions of making money or to have fame- then please do it! I am forever grateful when opportunities present themselves where someone pays me for the creative work I do. That my friend, is great day!
My job isn’t to make others understand why I chose to live life this way. The same should go for you. Walk proudly and just fucking create already. The world is waiting for you.