In January, I began working in a photography studio: the job involves sweeping the floor, raking the walkway, and answering the phone. But I never tell people that, because that is just not at all impressive. When girls hear “photography studio,” they conjure up very images of extremely artsy guys fiddling with cameras. I never touch cameras.
The moral of this story is, stories depend on moral. It doesn’t matter what the truth really is, because by telling a story correctly, you lose the point of the story. If I want you to think I’m cool, I will tell you I work in a photography studio. It sounds cool. But I will not tell the full truth, omitting certain parts to assure that I can retain the bigger truth: it’s a cool job.
Being a writer or blogger or poet works much the same way. When some people tell others that they want to be an author, they often apologize and say, “Well, it’s just a hobby.” They say, “Well, I haven’t published anything, but—I’m trying.”
Don’t apologize for your art. If you are working, you are working. To be an author, yes, you need to publish something. But to be a writer, write. To be a poet, write poetry and perform. To be an actor, act. Don’t tell people the grisly truth of an artist’s life: that you perhaps live in the empty storeroom of a bankrupt liquor store. Instead say, “I’m an artist.” A writer. A blogger. A sculptor. Whatever.
Any way you tell a story, it’s best to leave out the hard parts of the truth. People try to “break” the truth to me a lot about being a writer whenever I gush about how much I love it. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
I will write, and when I talk about writing, I will talk about in the most romantic light. Because the truth is less impressive. I’ve sold one poem through a contest, and it’ll be published in an anthology. That’s basically all I’ve ever done professionally, but that’s not the point. I can instead say that next Wednesday I will be the MC at an open mic in Augusta, at the amphitheatre on the boardwalk. (Be there.) Why? Because it sounds so much cooler.
If anyone asks, I don’t say, “I’m basically a janitor.” No, that would be utterly unimpressive. Because really, I work in a photography studio. And maybe that makes me look like I know what I’m doing, like I have some sort of professional background.
Take my word on this: being a poet can be very impressive, if you allow it to be.