When I interviewed for my job at The Arts Partnership ten years ago, I told the hiring committee I thought it was important for the leader of the arts sector to also be a working artist. At the time, the only art form I was referencing was acting. I had been fortunate up to that point to have had a relatively good commercial career, and I wanted to be sure I’d still be able to do that if the opportunity arose, which it has from time to time over these years.
The committee agreed, and I happily added arts adminstrator to my resume.
A significant part of my work at The Arts Partnership has always included public writing, and, thanks to the writing I did, and continue to do, at From house to HOME and later Inspired Home magazines, I already had a substantial body of work. When we developed a content relationship with The Forum, I enthusiastically added columnist to my resume, and for six years, I advocated for the arts on a monthly basis.
Interestingly, none of that made me feel like a writer, and I certainly didn’t call myself one.
But last summer, I gave a talk on finding and pursuing passion at the Ladyboss Summit, and in an instant, everything changed. Suddenly, I was on fire to write, to express my thoughts and emotions and share my vulnerabilities, hopes and fears in this particular art form.
And I’ve consistently done that–I’ve shared some of the most intimate aspects of my personal life in my blog, extraordinaryextraordinary. In February, my husband and I revealed his fall into alcoholism and our journey back to his sobriety and our joy-filled marriage and life.
Keep reading this post to understand why I’m referencing this: I just realized that the photo from the first blog post about this was taken at the ND Museum of Art; I love it when the Universe drops little breadcrumb clues that we often don’t notice or understand until much later.
But I still don’t call myself a writer.
At around the same time, on a parallel path, I was working with a screenwriter friend to create a script based on the copious courtship letters my grandparents wrote back and forth before getting married in 1951. I was trying to bring their story to life and create the film role I had never been able to find in all my years of acting.
We completed a screenplay, but it didn’t quite catch the magic I was hoping for. And I believe the window has closed on my playing my grandmother because time marches on and birthdays come and go, and pretty soon you’re too far from 38 to believably play that age anymore.
So I started thinking about writing and being a writer and calling myself a writer.
The North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks has an Artist in Residence program, which I applied for all the way back in January. I applied to spend two weeks writing and reading and pulling together those love letters to see what I could make of them in a novel form.
And I head to a remote farm in rural North Dakota from September 2-16.
But I am also thrilled because I haven’t had the opportunity to lean entirely in to my artist-self since I spent 11 weeks studying Shakespeare in New York’s Catskill Mountains the summer after my junior year of college in 1994.
And I think it’s time I start calling myself a writer.
And I won’t be checking email or responding to TAP-related issues while I’m gone, but it will be in Director of Operations Tania Blanich’s capable hands. I always say, “There are no art emergencies.” I trust that will continue to be true over these two short weeks.
I’m off to explore and create; to remember that, (almost) above all else, I am an artist; to learn about my grandparents and to imagine how my life fits in with their story. I’m off to get comfortable with the idea that I am a writer. And I’m so excited to get going.