I've been struggling with these questions lately:

  1. What does it mean to be a "real" artist?
  2. What is my purpose as an artist, if I consider myself a real artist?
  3. What direction should I take in my work? What are the next steps?
  4. What if no one ever actually cares about what I make or write?

Today was a rough day. I woke up anxious, took some Klonopin throughout the day to no avail and got increasingly anxious, verging on an existential crisis, until just recently when Edward got home and we drove around and had a good talk.

It's hard sometimes to understand each other because our lives - though connected through love, partnership, marriage, affection, etc - are very different. He has a clear (not to say it isn't incredibly hard, but clear) path ahead of him to reach his goal of being a doctor. I, as someone who wants to be an artist, do not have a clear path - at least none that I can see right now.

I told him about the above questions I have been asking myself and my fears that nobody will ever care about what I make/do/write. Then we started talking about why I make art. And the truth is, I write and make art because I need to. And I think that's one of the ways someone can be as an artist. I think that need, and the fact that I do make art, makes me a real artist. So that question has been answered well enough by my standards for now.

Then we started talking about when I am happiest making art. I am happiest making art when I'm inspired to create something and I create it. I am happiest making art when I feel like I am making something beautiful or real or that will (goddess willing) speak to or move others. I am happiest making art when it's an idea that comes to me organically, when I'm not forcing myself. I am happiest making art when there is an element of play to it, when I'm experimenting, when I am not taking myself too seriously. I am always happiest when I am not taking myself too seriously.

We talked about my fears that nobody will ever really care about what I create. And we had to ask the question: even if nobody ever cares, is it still worth doing? And the answer was yes. Because it fills me, feeds me, brings me joy, makes me come alive and because I need to make things. I can't explain where this need to create comes from, I just know that I have it.

I got very vulnerable with him and told him how I wanted him to be proud of me, to be proud of my work and to be proud to call me his wife. He told me he's most proud of me when I am doing what makes me come alive, when I am passionate about what I am doing, and won't be any prouder or less proud of me if my work is or is not ever appreciated by others. He just wants me to be the happiest Kait I can be. This is among the many reasons I love him and am incredibly grateful to be married to him.

So I still don't know what the next step to take in my work is and I still don't know exactly what my purpose is as an artist (and maybe that's a question I'll never be able to answer, maybe the answer will always be evolving). What I do know is that I need to learn more about art, both the current world of art and its history, and about the lives and struggles of other artists. I need to follow the inspiration when it comes and I need to stop holding myself to such impossible standards - it's insane, not to mention very egotistical, to think everything I try to make is going to be good or get a response.

The new question is this: how can I find my tribe of fellow artists? Ideally they would be in Birmingham, because I have almost no friends here still and am overall very isolated in my new city even though I have been here since July, but how does one go about finding their tribe or even other artists? I'd settle for a digital tribe of other artists at this point, I'm so desperate to find people who understand these needs and fears of mine because they share them. If you have any ideas or thoughts on this last question I've raised here, please share them with me, I'd really appreciate it.