Preparing for SXSW Part 1

I thought I was going to be out of town this year during SXSW. I was going to buy new ice skates, and visit my nephew.

But those plans fell through, and instead I try to last-minute-prep myself for a week of networking, partying, and “selling my personal brand”.

I don’t know if there is a zeitgeist yet for more honesty in one’s “personal branding”. I think I see it in some of Austin Kleon‘s more recent tumblr posts. I hope that it catches on. For myself, I know that I am too old, too bitter, and too lazy to shine myself up into something flawless. The blog obviously hasn’t been updated in nearly a year, I’ve been very reclusive in my personal networking, practically silent on twitter until this week, and still, even now, do not always have a terribly quick or witty answer to the question “So… what do you do?”

What do you do? What do you want to do? Are they the same question? Is it the destination that matters? Or am I already living the dream by working to get where I want to be?

What do I do?

I exist in a state of flux.

In the morning I get up and go to a job that I like, but I worry isn’t someplace I want to stay for a long time. I wonder if I should take some classes to make the job-specific skills I have more transferable to a different company. I wonder if I should try to go into a different field in the same organization, one with more room for advancement. I wonder about the different ways there would be to do that, and which I would find most satisfying.

Sometimes I get past wondering, and look up the qualifications I would need, the skillsets that other companies would want me to have, the cost of community classes, the people who have made this or that shift before me that I message to ask for advice.

Then I wonder why I am bothering, when if I was a real true artist, I would be plotting my escape. Plotting how to live a creative life 24/7. Plotting how to make money being brilliant and original.

When I come home, I have no television, no children, a few too many hours to fill, and a few too many creative demons to take interest in things like a clean house or a healthy dinner. So I putter, a little bit of this, a little of that, and a lack of direction throughout.

But then I get into conversations with friends about what is wrong with the world, what I wished existed but nobody seems to be making, what I would like to offer the world if only I had more time, more energy, more determination, more follow through…

And those good friends, those fabulous friends, they push me to make those things a reality. Tiny steps at a time. A four week outline for a picture book class that I could offer. You know, if I got around to it. A handout of all of the advice that I have learned through hard knocks about filling out online job applications. You know, for the fun of compiling it. A few character sketches for a friend’s new web comic script. Because they were in my head, I just had to share them. A plot outline for a story a friend abandoned and handed to me, a story that really needs to get written because the premise is just that good. I have a hand in every pot, but I don’t know which to stir first.

So… what do you do?

“I think too much.”

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