Chasing your creative dreams is not a hobby – it’s a full-time job
A few years ago I was working in reality TV and spending all my free time writing articles. I was engaged by the ABC to appear on one of their panel shows because of a personal essay I wrote about my weird life, and the Executive Producer asked me how I did, ‘working as a writer?’
‘I’m not a writer, really.’ I responded. ‘I wish I was a writer, I just do it on the side.’
I have learned that Executive Producers are really not the type to mince words – they are a combination of being time poor and fearless. They look after big productions – they are tough because they are visionaries; bold statement makers; droppers of truth bombs.
It is the job of an Executive Producer to bring a creative project to fruition. It’s hard work; there is no time for soul searching and self doubt. She wasn’t interested in my self-effacing, roundabout explanation of how I was sort of chasing my dream, in a reasonable way.
“You are writing, you are a writer. Stop doing your own negative PR. The more you say you are something, the more you will become it. You are a writer – that’s it.”It was a life-changing moment for me; it was alchemical. I felt everything shift in that moment, and while it took some years to achieve the professional and financial goals of being a ‘successful writer’ I was, of course, already a writer.
IF IT WAS EASY TO BE CREATIVELY FULFILLED, EVERYBODY WOULD DO IT
Achieving creative satisfaction and professional goals is not easy – this is why so many people don’t love what they do for a living. It takes hustle, chutzpah and resilience; Being brutal I would venture to assert that these are things that a lot of people can’t muster after being knocked down a few times. You need to put yourself out there, leap, fail, fall and get back up.
When it comes to being a musician, an artist or a creative, the output is often enormous and expensive. Musicians spend their whole lives buying instruments, renting rehearsal space, paying to have their records made, often with no promise of real fiscal reward. It’s a pursuit of conflicting drivers – it’s illogical, its deeply brave.
MUSICIANS ARE BRAVE
I have often vacillated between seeing musicians as selfless, altruistic and on the flip side, ego driven. Do they just love gifting heir music to people around them? Or are musicians guided by a deep need to be listened to? To have their voice or sound heard and respected.
I mean ultimately it doesn’t matter.
“It’s pretty scary and I definitely have moments,” Shaun Black tells me, of quitting his job as a carpenter to pursue his dream of being a musician. “Even this morning I was probably having a moment where I was like, ‘Oh I don’t know if this is the right thing.’ But nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
TAKING THE LEAP
Shaun Black has just released his debut EP which he co-wrote with Andrew Furze (who has also written with Delta Goodrem and Andrew De Silva), but before taking the leap headlong into his music career, he was working full time hours and writing music in his free time. I identify so much with this. The exhaustion, the desperation, the indefatigable self belief.
“It was probably, towards the end of being on the tools, I was so busy. I was working for someone that wasn’t really good to work for.
“That helped my decision to go towards music but it was mainly sort of I’d be on the tools during the day and just getting really frustrated and thinking I should be spending this time trying to write songs. You get home from work and you probably have time, but you have no energy to do it.
“Recently I attended a music songwriting camp, Grow My Music, and we spent a week in the Central Coast with eleven other artists and producers and we got put together in different groups to write a song every day, and it was the most amazing experience, and that sort of solidified with me that, yeah, this is definitely something that I want to do.”
Shaun spoke to me about how instrumental the support of his wife has been in chasing his dreams. He was a carpenter for 12 years, where he played cover gigs on the weekend. The last 12 months have been about him focusing solely on writing his own music and moving into the musical and creative landscape, a place where he truly feels at home.
Shaun Black’s alchemical moment came when he played A Day on the Green Festival in 2016. He had the opening slot for a lineup that featured a number of his musical heroes, guitar-wielders like himself – Rob Thomas, Pete Murray. It was at this time when Shaun realised he had to chase his musical dreams full time.
“Working with other musicians and people in the music industry, it really does feel like where I sort of fit.”
The article was originally published on Tone Deaf