Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Paralleling Creativity Lines

I find it interesting that creative people tend to be creative in a variety of ways. I have a brother-in-law who writes, and he also composes beautiful piano music. My husband's aunt writes and is also an artist by profession. I write and do crafts.

For about four or five years, I've been a Stampin' Up demonstrator. (I also do other crafts, but primarily cards and scrapbooking are my main focus.) It's interesting to me how my various creative outlets parallel each other so well.

As a SU demonstrator, I've primarily been considered a "hobbyist." That means I have mostly been selling enough to support my own purchases, plus a little on the side. But I haven't been totally satisfied with that, although it is about all I have time for. Recently I've been feeling really stagnant with my demonstratorship. I don't have a downline (SU is a direct sales company), and I have a few loyal customers who come to my classes regularly, but I don't really see any new faces. I've really enjoyed SU, and being a demonstrator, so I've tried some new things to share that with people.

I have tried a variety of different options to create more contacts. I've started a website that has brought me several new, loyal customers. I hosted an event last weekend that I think was really successful. And I am participating in a training program that focuses on recruiting. I have been forced (through assignments) to talk to customers about joining SU, and I've actually found that there is more interest than I had anticipated. I'm even hosting an event at my house June 3 to tell more about being a demonstrator to anyone who is interested.

So, how does all that fit in with writing? Well, my writing path and creativity have followed a similar pattern. I started out writing creatively pretty haphazardly. A few poems here or there, but I never really considered myself a writer. Then I took a class in college that changed my life. It was a YA lit class that we were supposed to outline a novel idea as the final. That in conjunction with my methods course that emphasized that as teachers of writing, we must be writers ourselves, completely changed my perspective.

When I had time, I took that novel outline and completed it. I was so proud and excited that I had finished such an ambitious undertaking. I shared it with my mentor-professor who ripped it to shreds. But the difference was that I actually cared enough to revise it. I wrote one revision, but it has essentially sat since then.

I had had a dream early one morning that presented me with another novel idea that I decided to pursue. I started writing it a little here and there, but I still kept my "writing" side of myself pretty quiet. Until one evening.

I went to a dinner program with my husband for an alumni board he had just joined at the university. Another professor was there and we were talking. When he asked me what I did, I told him that I had taught, but was currently a stay-at-home Mom. Then (here's where I parallel most closely with SU), for some reason I risked sharing with a complete stranger something I hardly even told my friends and family. I told him I was writing a YA novel.

He became animated and said he was a writer too. Who would have thought a business/computer professor would also be a writer? He told me about the League of Utah Writers and told me to email him and he'd give me the meeting information. Excited that someone believed in writing as more than just a fun hobby or pasttime, I emailed him the next day. I was surprised to find he actually emailed me back (who was I, anyway? Just a random stranger he met at a dinner he got roped into attending). From pretty much that point forward, I've never been embarrassed to tell someone I'm a writer (thanks, Eric).

I found that the same as with Stampin' Up, as I tried to improve my personal skills in my creativity and execution, I was also more confident in sharing with other people about something I love doing. And as I shared with more people about my creative loves, I found that a lot more people than I ever thought were interested in them too.

And here's the final parallel: I am at "amateur" level in both right now. I was watching AFV today, and the host presented a great definition that actually struck home. When you are a hobbyist at something, you can suck all you want. But if you define yourself as an "amateur," you are expected to become a professional. I know that writing should take a priority in my life, and it does, but right now I have greater priorities. I have a family to raise, a home to take care of, and schooling to complete. I try to write consistently, but do not do it as regularly as I "should."

And I'm okay with that right now. I do not have the time to turn my Stampin' Up demonstratorship into a full business right now, and my family situation is such that I cannot write for an hour every single day. But I'm working to grow both of them. Although I am only an amateur demonstrator or writer, I will be a professional at each some day.