When I sat down to think about a common thread between my work in the media/entertainment industry and academia, I discovered that throughout my life, I have been assisting writers, students, and creative folk on how to achieve their goals and purpose in life – and how to never give up on that pursuit.
This thought occurred after a question was asked within my summer intensive session this year: “What are your favorite kinds of books, Laurie? What’s your genre?”
What matters is how they lived
That made me think back on my favorite types of books, of course, and, from high school onward, I have always gravitated toward biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and creative nonfiction in general.
Give me a book about a well-known or obscure songwriter and I’m happy – sometimes the one-hit-wonder songwriter’s story is richer than the mega-artist’s story – but it doesn’t matter – what matters is HOW they lived and achieved the art they achieved.
This pursuit of artistic discovery among my fave authors and such happened because I was raised by hard-working lower middle-class Midwestern parents. I knew I would have to work to survive. I was not a trust fund baby. I was a 1st generation college student and an only child. I was on my own, working throughout the semesters and summer breaks to pay for my education.
That said, I also had the crazy notion that I wanted to be an artist, more specifically, a writer. How was I going to live the romantic writer life if I had to pay for college, rent, and all-things-adult like for the rest of my life?
Providing for myself while pursuing my art
I didn’t know. I was on my own to pursue this journey of providing for myself while pursuing my art.
And so, in search of some answers, I read biographies of those I admired – Kerouac, Anais Nin, Antoine St. Exupery, James Dean, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Ayn Rand, Aldous Huxley, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, the Beatles, etc.
Additionally, anything about artists of all kinds in Rolling Stone and Interview magazines, and any additional newspaper and magazine articles that I could scour up in the 70s and 80s.
All this reading helped me to understand the moment that these creative souls found a way to pursue their art even though many of them were also from very meager beginnings in life just like me.
The Pursuit of Purpose
I felt that if I could pinpoint and identify the moment they set their sights on pursuing their art then I would surely be able to identify that moment in my own life. Through their examples of surviving while pursuing their art, I would be inspired to do the same.
I’ve been on this planet for five decades now and I have to tell you that that moment of artistic clarification still escapes me, however…I will acknowledge that I’ve been blessed with the grace of experiencing being artistic throughout my life and perhaps that is what I’ve been seeking all along…
I set out to work in the entertainment industry and had a successful run at that, but through a series of life’s surprise twists and turns it became clear that teaching was my calling.
Once I realized that, the doors opened wide for me to pursuit that path.
Therefore, with that knowledge, I now share how to recognize one’s authentic calling with all writers, students and creative folks I encounter.
Do you know your art?
Do you know your purpose?