Dear Artistic Souls: Your Dreams Are Valid. March 2016 Muse Of The Month Winning Entry By Kasturi Patra

If you have a passion, follow it. And if you can earn your living using your passion, go for it! It is never too late. Do not give up your present for your future!

If you have a passion, follow it. And if you can earn your living using your passion, go for it! It is never too late. Do not give up your present for your future!

This year, we bring you again the Muse of the Month contest. We have received some wonderful entries for the March Muse of the Month, and had a hard time picking just 5 winners. Congratulations to all of them!

The cue for March 2016 was:

“Most people trusted in the future, assuming that their preferred version of it would unfold.”
― Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland

The third winning entry is by Kasturi Patra.

Dear Artistic Souls: Your Dreams Are Valid.

Dear Friend Who Is Too Afraid/Busy/Tired/Hesitant to Pursue Your Creativity,

This letter is for you. You, who thinks she has no time to pursue her art classes, or you who is too afraid to write, or you, who hesitates to learn dancing at 50 because “what will people say?”

This letter goes out to all of us, who put the artist within in the background for a long time, because of the limitations drawn by our minds. Sometimes, we even questioned, “What is it that I truly love to do?” Even if we found the answers, we buried them under layers of excuses and reasoning.

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First things first, please etch these words in your heart like a permanent tattoo.
“No matter where you are from your dreams are valid.”
Lupita Nyong’o

We, ourselves, are the greatest hurdles in the path towards fulfilling our dreams. Why? Because we are too scared of failure. Our insecurities make us comfortably numb in our sufferings. We feel that things will magically work out in the future. Like most people, for a long time, I trusted in the future, assuming that my preferred version of it will unfold, someday.

It is not important to earn your living by doing what you truly love but don’t let that creative streak in you die. Also, is there anything better than earning a living while doing what you love?

In my case, I wanted this dream to turn to reality. But I banked upon the future to build that magic castle for me, instead of utilizing the present to build the foundation. I waited and waited and that ‘desirable future’ seemed even further away from my grasp. That future where I follow my passion and still earn a decent living, travel, and contribute to society.

What was my passion in life? What did I truly love doing? I discovered it while working in my current job. I loved to write. As a financial analyst, I write a lot of business articles. But I wanted to write my own words too. My stories, my accounts of events, my poetry…I realized I wanted to be a writer!

When you decide to follow your creativity, different kinds of fears might rear their ugly heads. Like I faced these:

The fear of not being accepted
The fear of being ridiculed
The fear of not doing something worthwhile with my good educational background
The fear of being left behind in the rat race of proving my worth

With age, comes experience. The bitter ones are the better ones because along with shoving your face to the ground, they help you find your strength to turnaround and hit back! I realized that like those dementors in Harry Potter, these fears were sucking out the happiness from my soul. Life felt so demotivating and I couldn’t find any meaning in carrying on without a true purpose. Without an existential crisis, might I have ever learnt how far beyond my imagination lay my capabilities?

Now, comes the question.

How do I write well, especially, since I don’t have a degree in English, leave alone one in creative writing?

A few books on creativity came to my rescue. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird were some books that literally changed my life! I would highly recommend you to read these books. The essential message all of them conveyed was: you don’t need fancy degrees or certain prerequisites to be an artist, what you needed was practice and that passion that fired up your insides, not letting you sleep at night if you’re not doing it!

And then comes the more ‘realistic’ question.

What if my art is never ‘good enough’ for me to earn a living with its help?

The books I mentioned answer this question, as well. It is better to have a separate source of earning, at least in the beginning.

The moment we choose to feel desperate about selling our art, is the moment that we start losing some of that love for our art because it gets replaced by fears and insecurities! What if my art never sells and no one ever likes it? It is at this point that we need to say, “What the hell, I will still do it. Simply because nothing makes me happier!”

Hence, I have decided to write, word after word, page after page, day after day. Because that provides my inner being a sense of solace and true bliss. Nothing makes me happier than the early morning sun kissing my forehead, my dog lying at my feet, while I furiously keep tapping the keys of my laptop or keep scribbling in my notebook.

However, monetary aspect is important. And that’s why I have a job! Did you know that the acclaimed author Elizabeth Gilbert worked full-time in a different job while simultaneously writing several books till the time Eat, Pray, Love was published? Only with the record breaking success of that book did she decide to take writing as a full-time career.

You might ask me next, but don’t you ever want to be commercially successful?

Of course, I do, sweetie! But as I said, I don’t want to let go of my present at the cost of anxiety for the future! I want to be successful but if that does not happen I still want to love and pursue my art. Unconditionally!

The more we think about results or the future, the more the present moment slips by like water from our grasps. We live in a state of haze with an expectation for a sunnier future and then wallow in disappointment when our preferred version of the future doesn’t unfold. Do what makes you happy, leave the rest to the Universe. Of course, give your everything because there’s no shortcut.

Look at Van Gogh, the world famous artist who failed to be commercially successful in his life time and yet he had so much confidence in his creations that he never gave up. We need to have that kind of faith in ourselves. Attaining happiness through art is so simple if we just take a pause, set our priorities right, and make the most of now.

I’d like to end by saying that it is never easy. Especially creativity, which is so subjective. Of course, there are bad times, sitcoms and junk food binging times, going for shopping or just Facebooking times, when you’ll feel disappointed about things not changing soon enough.

Take time out to wallow in self-pity but once you’re done, get up, dust yourself and get back to serious work. Once again. And yet again. You won’t die unhappy. You won’t regret a single thing you do to achieve your dreams. You’ll regret the times wasted, the excuses made, and the times spent in self-doubt, resentment, and fear. But you will never ever regret to die while trying.

Do it! You have no idea what’s within you. But you have an idea what you can do today. If only you kick yourself in the butt and do your best.

With Lots of Love,

A fellow artist.


Kasturi Patra wins a Rs 250 Flipkart voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the 10 top winners at the end of 2016. Congratulations!

Image source: writing inspired by nature by Shutterstock.


About the Author

Kasturi Patra

Kasturi’s debut novel, forthcoming in early 2021, had won the novel pitch competition by Half Baked Beans Publishers. She won the Runner Up Position in the Orange Flower Awards 2021 for Short Fiction. Her read more...

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