The Risks of Moving Beyond the Blog

This past weekend, I was part of a panel discussion about the #ArtisticVisionPgh project. The audience was small, but asked terrific questions. I think it went well. Video will be available in a few months.

This panel also marked my unofficial entry into the world of blogger artist in residence. To be honest, that’s a little scary. I’m very excited about the idea of amplifying LGBTQ voices throughout Western PA. I’m excited about the opportunity to engage new people. I’m excited about publishing a zine that will be a tangible documentation of the Q&A series. I have an entire list of things that excite me about this new endeavor, but I am also still terrified about stepping out of my comfort zone as “just a blogger” and into the realm of the arts.

The looming issue is funding – how do I make a living (or just survive) with this idea? I have to go find my own funding (which is fine) so I’m revisiting some skill sets that I’ve used in the past as a social worker. That’s both scary and comforting. Will blogging be considered artistic enough to pursue those funding streams? Is an art exhibit and zine political enough to satisfy LGBTQ funders? So the landscape isn’t unfamiliar, but it is always a challenge to navigate.

I’m also worried about my internalized sense that I’m not a real artist. As I’ve been sharing this news with folks, the people with the most enthusiastic responses are other bloggers and advocacy/activist folks who understand the power of the narrative, the power of amplifying voices. Three different people embedded in arts appreciation (patron/reviewer/etc) have been unimpressed. I don’t really need to impress them, but it does make me think that perhaps I haven’t quite found the right way to frame my art (pun!)

The feeling of not fitting in is a slippery slope to crossing your own boundaries and making poor decisions. I was present about a conversation about the local performance arts scene and they named at least 6 different theater companies and works in less than 3 minutes. My head was spinning. When I excused myself, I mentioned to Ledcat that showing off isn’t a good way to invite people to appreciate your preferred art form. It is a classic symptom of social anxiety. I know that feeling. To give myself credit, I excused myself and sidestepped sliding down the path from confusion to exclusion.

That’s the moment that felt new – recognizing a little threat to my peace of mind over a scary, exciting new project and making a decision to protect myself from that threat, however small. Victory!

I’ve also been given my first paid assignment as an actual journalist with a real live publication. I’ve been paid to write in the past, but it has been awhile since I’ve actually written a news story. This arose from my activism around LGBTQ issues – I’ve demonstrated that I know the terrain pretty well. I have never had aspirations of growing up to be a journalist or a writer. I’ve firmly stated that blogging is blogging and it has simply been my hobby. I don’t accept paid blog posts and make a teeny bit from an LGBTQ advertising source, enough to pay the web hosting bills.

So I have no illusions (delusions) about skyrocketing to freelance fame as a writer and funding my AMPLIFY LGBTQ Initiative. But the timing is interesting and does make me wonder if some higher power is challenging me to stretch my wings in multiple new directions. Hoo boy, that’s a little scary, too.

It is strange how so many little threads fuse together in this latest twist – blogging, art, journalism, political analysis, activism, the chance to focus on trans, queer and bisexual voices and more. Even PFLAG which is one of my favorite groups is part of the plan. And mental health, mine and others. It is all embedded in this project like glitter.

So where’s the risk? Well, failing is a risk. How can I fail?

  • I can fail to find funding
  • My crowdfunding will be pathetic
  • I can fail to find anyone to talk with me
  • I can fail to ask the right questions or fail to follow up on those I do ask
  • I can fail to help people who bring up a concern during the interviews
  • I can fail to “be” an artist or feel like an artist or give myself permission to feel like an artist
  • No one can come to my exhibit in November
  • I can get writer’s block and be unable to curate the Q&A posts
  • I can overextend myself trying to find paid gigs to cover the residency and impair my health

Ahem. See what I mean about living with anxiety?

These are perceived risks. If I wrap up the year without having the chance to amplify voices, that would be an actual failure. I can go back to blogging and back to social media work. I can continue tutoring and so forth. I can modify, edit, and refine. And I’m not alone. The team at Most Wanted Fine Art are enthusiastic, creative and thorough.

I think it will be okay.




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