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

Posted: March 23, 2016

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.

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.

I read like a maniac, like my life depends on it. I also write and

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Comments

6 Comments


  1. I stand “guilty as accused” of all of the above web of excuses people like me, have become masters at spinning ! I will do as you rightly bid and kick myself in the bu** and get on with the task at hand!! Wishing myself luck and the will to start working on my dream(s)! Your post was inspirational in that I felt solace from knowing that you have faced the same storm of emotions and doubts and perhaps have even overcome them successfully! So that’s another push to get started.

    • I am so glad that this post inspired you, Sonia 🙂 Trust me, all of us face doubts and fear, the trick is to acknowledge it but still carry on. My intention for writing this was to help fellow artists who like me are also struggling in their artistic pursuits. You made my day by saying that you’re encouraged to start working on your dreams. I wish you all the very best. More power to us. <3

  2. Dear Kasturi,
    Each word was so echoing which many of us have felt at some juncture in our lives. Loved it and felt happy too. Following your dream, attaining the same and gaining spiritually and monetarily out of that dream is simply a bliss. :). The passion which drives everyone has to be kindled every now and then…as it is always stopped by our own self doubt. So beautifully written by you, in the form of a letter to many readers like me.
    Congratulations.

    • Thank you so much for those lovely words of praises and encouragement, Deepa. As artists, we indeed need support from each other as few people would understand the struggle better. I’m glad it resonated with you. 🙂

  3. sandhya renukamba -

    This was a wonderful post, Kasturi! The emotions and struggle with yourself is so well articulated. It was as if someone had written my story. I am a medical professional by training but my heart was not in it. My first love was literature, and I began blogging, reviewing books. Somewhere along the way I became a serious freelance writer, got into Women’s Web as a book reviewer and writer of wellness articles, and today I am the Community Manager and Editor here!

    Thanks for writing this.

    • Thank you so much for those lovely words, Sandhya. You know, I consider it as the biggest reward for my writing when a reader says she can completely identify with my thoughts and it seems like I’ve spoken her thoughts aloud. It really feels amazing to hear that! 🙂 Thanks also for sharing the course of your journey as it really inspired me. I still am grappling for a steady hold in the world of writing and your story made me feel so hopeful. Women’s Web had been a major influence in my writing life, as well. The more I see my writing getting published here, the more I am encouraged to write more and write better. Really can’t thank you guys, the team at Women’s Web, enough!

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