I lose the thread every so often and have to ask myself all over again. Why? And who for? What is this thing I’ve made?
I find different answers, sometimes the same answers that needed to be brushed off and given some love. Sometimes new ones that sit alongside the old ones, different, disharmonious, complex. Sometimes other people show me their answers, their perspective, and that can take time for me to process.
In my business development course, much of what I do was looked at through a different perspective. A new work of art to sell prints of is a new product. This blog, or an exhibition, is marketing.
I’ve had to learn to stop panicking that if I put down my Romantic lens of the world, I’ll lose it and never pick it up again. So I look at the blog for a little while through that lens. It’s true, in one sense. Almost all the work I’ve gained – except for some of the face painting, has been through this blog. In that sense, it is a marketing tool.
Which feels instinctively repulsive until I think more about what marketing is.
Which, when stripped back to the bones, is simply communication. Who am I? What do I think? What do I do? What could we do together? The fact that it’s so often done badly, deceptively, in ways that feel repulsive, dishonest, slick, intrusive, or faux friendly doesn’t mean it has to be any of those things. It’s simply talking to people I don’t know, in public. More than one at a time.
So, what happens when I think of this blog as marketing, alongside the other ways I see it (public art, volunteer peer work, self publishing, and so on)…
The first wrestle with a new perspective is often the freeze response for me. I seize up and stop writing. Without a clear sense of why I’m doing it or who I’m writing to or for, everything on my mind goes hazy and derails. It’s a hard one to be patient through.
I has taken me a long time to find a way to merge my ideas about work and the vulnerable, personal sharing I do here. For the longest time they were incompatible, unbearable, even. Work is the place we must be most professional, clothed, armoured, protected, shiny. It is, in my mind, the opposite of what I’ve been creating here: a shared look into my life, my reflections, experiences, growth. Unravelling what’s worked for me, sharing the keys, leaving the doors unlocked behind me so any others can also navigate them.
Professionalism and work have had to be reclaimed from the corporate world of depersonalised success.
I write to humanise myself to people who see me as other. To contextualise my strangeness. To have conversations that are not possible when I’m just getting to know people, but that without the context, I rarely get close enough to have. I get to address the confusion and anxiety of the ways I’m different and build connections with people who would otherwise never get to know me.
I write to claim my own story and my own unique perspective. To frame experience into narrative. When I can’t write or create art I’ve lost my key way of processing life.. I’m silent and the experiences are stripped of story and remain fragmented, immediate, and uncertain.
I write to ease the unbearable life threatening loneliness of people who are in some ways like me. Diversity and pain can both leave us feeling profoundly alone.
I write to share hope, to give an authentic account of the darkness and an honest witnessing of the joy and pain of human existence.
I write to leave a legacy for those who love me and those I love. If I died tomorrow, Poppy could find me in these words, find my deep love, my absolute thrill at bringing her into the world, my confusion and my contentment.
I write to help make a tiny corner of the world a little warmer, safer, brighter. To do what I can to bloom where I’m planted and share what I have.
I write because you write back to me. You share your stories with me, send me letters and gifts, you listen and speak and tell me I’ve done something that matters.