Cheaters never prosper.
Who said that anyway?
Cheaters never prosper. And I am the worst cheater of all.
My first love so long ago was Drawing. My sister has signed pictures from a four-year-old with my curls and exact same birthmark. But sadly, young love is a fickle thing and I cheated on Drawing when I became a reader. Reading was my true love. None of that fluff about being a famous artist. Reading required nothing from me but my time. And so I was a ferocious reader. I have a list of 143 books I read in grade 7 alone. Girl, was I a reader.
But then…sigh…I started to have ideas. Ideas that weren’t yet in these books. Ideas that maybe I too could become a writer.
And so I began sneaking around and staying out late after dark with a flashlight, only it wasn’t my beloved I was out with. It was someone new. Someone I liked just a little bit better. He was handsome and would change whenever I wanted. He showed up on time. He brought me presents—little inspirations. And I started to love him, I started to write and write and write. And I would still read a bit, but I preferred my own creations, my new dashing prince.
Only, I’m not easily satisfied. And I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe and Writing became mundane and tedious. He let his hair grow wild and he stopped being timely. He wandered in at midnight drunk with ideas, but by morning they looked messy and gave me a headache. He didn’t show up with presents as often, instead he talked of tragedy and defeat. He reminded me that there wasn’t much success in Writing. He reminded me that this was just too damn hard.
So we took a break. And on that break I met some paint I was quite fond of. He let me create whatever I wanted in a day or two. He didn’t whisper snarky comments about comma splices or plot development. He told me that everything I made was wonderful just because I could say so. Like writing, he inspired me at midnight (annoying), but this love was new and so I forgave his poor timing.
But Painting can go awry. And it involves some smelly chemicals. And even though it takes less time than writing, it takes WAY more time than Photography. Oh Photography! That must be my real love. People sometimes pay me for this. What a surprise! This is it. This is my real love. Smiles and wide angles and canisters of black and white film. Oh joy! Oh life! Until… until you miss a shot. Until you see that photography is cheating on you. Making so many others stronger, faster. Until iPhones enable panorama and film filters. Until you get tired of trying to prove yourself worthy. This feels an awful lot like a breakup. This feels like that night I fought with Writing. The day Painting seemed boring.
By now I was starting to carry the baggage from being a cheater. I tried to give time to all the loves I once had. That is not an easy task. I wondered if I had the stomach to live the life of a creative. So much back and forth. So much inspiration, so little time. And then the months where nothing is inspired at all. When you’ve successfully pissed off all your lovers at once. When the books look boring and typing leaves a headache and the paintbrushes are all packed away in a dirty basement that you’ve been avoiding. And forget drawing, who even remembers how that works? Are there rules? I must be breaking them.
And so I pulled out my sewing machine and made a dress and a shirt and another dress. A skirt, a scarf (oh dear, that reminds me that I didn’t knit AT ALL this season). And I think, maybe I could run a boutique and just create and sell. And someone asks me if I’ll make them a dress and then I shut down. Time to pack up before anyone can see you’re a fraud, right?
I built a chair once. It’s uncomfortable.
I wrote one short story that I never showed to anyone.
I wrote a few songs. Then I stopped showing up to practice.
I created a couple drawings a couple people liked. I gave them away. Good riddance.
I painted a few things that a few people purchased. I painted several things that nobody purchased.
I made a dress. It will probably fall apart.
I think I’m going to just fall back in love with reading, where nothing is required except time. Right?
Because the problem with being a little bit good at a LOT of things, is that you’re never very good at anything. I don’t work a creative day job—I make coffee. I don’t work on that book I keep talking about—I write silly blog posts.
And here is where I sit. A cheater. A creative who will never prosper, because cheaters don’t.