She said I had a gift. That is, my mother said this of my writing. She said I had a gift, and that it would be wasteful to pursue my art when it was only mediocre, and my writing was so good.
Here’s the thing though: writing is a skill that has to be practiced, just as art is. And I don’t have a gift. Honestly, truly, and you know this, having read so many of my mediocre posts, my writing is only as good as my practice. My first practices at writing were not actually holding a pen in hand, or sitting at a keyboard typing: they were the times my mother and my grandfather and my father read to me. They were Serendipity books, Ping the Duck, and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Catwings. These were my first practices, rolling sounds around in my ears, hearing the words from weak voices and strong, and then learning to read them myself.
I could have been that way with my art, but I chose to follow bad advice. I want you to pay attention to the agent there in that statement: I chose. Me. Yes, I was given bad advice, but I was the one who took it.
Now? I practice my writing. I occasionally practice my art. In my writing, I feel like a craftsperson. There is a certain joy when I know a piece is well-constructed. In my art, I am still a learner at 31. I feel like I’m lagging behind. But image is important. And I’ll get there one day. I will be a craftsperson there, too.
I will never claim to be an artist, at least in the sense of mastery in my chosen crafts. I think that’s something for readers and viewers to decide. That’s something that has to be determined by the person wrangling with a work once its maker has finished it. But as a craftsperson, I strive to perfect technique. I strive to experiment with new modes. I strive to make my work better. I fail often. That’s the point, right? It’s practice. You’re allowed to mess up. Just keep doing it. You’ll get there. I’ll get there.