We get to define our own success. This is not a new idea, but it’s one I like to remind myself of often. When I think about the intersection of my passions and my talents, these are the things that come to mind:
* I am a teacher by nature. I like to share and inspire.
* I like to make things, and I’m creative.
* I am a writer, in that I process my own thoughts best through words.
* I am passionate about inspiring confidence in one’s own creativity and artistic talents, whatever they are.
* Like Miss Rumphius, I hope to add a bit of beauty to the world.
When I think about this list, the three directions in which I’ve been headed seem intertwined. I am working towards offering classes, selling my creations, and taking the Art Together series further. This is my work as I’ve (finally!) defined it. Now, what about success?
I have items for sale in a local store. I consider that a success (although I haven’t sold any yet). But I’m also working towards opening an Etsy store, held up at the moment by the need to get the RI sales tax license squared away, and being right at the end of one fiscal year and the start of another. It’s all a bit more complicated that I thought it would be. Shipping is confusing! It feels like I’ve been moving very slowly on this goal, but I’m getting there.
I’ve been teaching art (and other) classes through our home-school co-op for the past year. Those have been successful, yes, and I’ve been really happy to share my passions with these kids. But I’d like to teach classes I get paid for, too. I don’t need to teach in a big, impressive venue. A local town’s rec. dept. offers so many classes they publish a catalog three times a year. I’ve long thought, “I could teach there,” but I’ve been held back by the sort of thoughts that hold one back: How would I manage child care? Will getting paid as a contractor mess up our taxes? How do I know what to charge, anyway? Suppose nobody is interested?
Finally I just emailed the contact person, who forwarded my email to the coordinator of the arts classes, who I happen to already know because my son has taken pottery from her. So it was a really friendly, easy meeting, and I’ll be offering classes and workshops this fall. She let me know that new classes by new instructors can take time to catch on; if I’m willing to run a class with just a few people, eventually, it will build. Starting small; I understand that. Right now, I count it as a success that I will be offering classes. Start where you are.
As for my blogging about art-making by and with children, I already feel good about that. I already feel successful, because if it’s inspired or reached or helped even one person, that’s a win. The plan to take my Art Together series further, I’ll admit, scares me a little, but in a good way. It feels challenging. It feels important for me to try to do it. I get to define the success, remember. Right now, it’s a success if I pull it off. Stay tuned.
What do you define as your work? And, more importantly, how do you define your success?