“In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his ‘real’ vocation. The professional loves it so much, he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time.” --Steven Pressfield from The War of Art
Let me clarify what I mean by turning pro. I mean a mindset where I focus my intention on something that matters to me and the mindset is separate from making money. However, I do live in the real world so the ability to also make money is definitely my preference.
I have wrestled with the idea of turning pro in the arts for years now, ever since I left teaching. I knew after my first year home that I didn’t want to return to the classroom and I also knew that I loved to work. As much as I learned and grew through my teaching work, once home, I got taste of the life in my secret dreams. By the end of that first year, I allowed myself to dream about writing again and even took a whole new approach to it by taking an acting class.
In acting, I found an art and a craft that I’d never fully appreciated before. Sure, I had my favorite performances from my favorite movies but I’d never realized just how magical the artform really is. That was back in January of 2013 and it’s been a slow but steady journey ever since.
Acting gave me the courage to step back into writing and to treat it more seriously. I took a class on screenwriting and then took it again and again. I began to speak my dreams out loud and dare to call myself a writer. I even had it tattooed on my wrist. That tattoo was meant to make something clear to myself: no more back and forth and time to quit the dabbling. I declared myself a writer, once and for all. That was in October of 2014.
I continued to write and I continued to act. Surprisingly, I made my first creative money in acting. I’ve booked several acting jobs at this point in a variety of projects. I want to clarify that I don’t think I’ve ‘turned pro’ as an actor. I think I’ve gotten really lucky and I have a freedom with it because it’s not my primary dream. I don’t treat it with the same preciousness that I often treat writing--which I think is a mistake. That freedom has allowed me to take more risks and I’ve been lucky enough to have those risks rewarded. Even with those experiences, turning pro and making money as a writer still felt elusive and impossible. It’s so amazing to have a dream and it’s also terrifying to admit it aloud and own how much I want it.
But own it, I did. In October 2017, I took the very bold step of forming an LLC (Abshire United) as a demonstration that I want to make writing my career. The beautiful and frightening thing is that this is a job I can give myself so I did but honestly, I didn’t fully commit until recently and I can mark the moment that I had the mindset switch. There were a series of moments that led to it but suddenly I had this incredible sensation.
The best way to describe it is that I approached a room years ago that I now think of as my writer’s room. I knocked and the door opened from the inside but I didn’t walk through it immediately. I kept peeking my head in and asking questions like, “Are you sure I’m invited in? Do you really mean for me to just walk in? It’s really okay?” I stood outside leaning in and out for years. But now, I’ve fully stepped in and closed the door behind me. I danced my way in and I’m setting myself up for a good long time. I’ve stopped questioning whether I belong. I just accept that I do.
If I had to pinpoint one thing (but it really is a series of events and experiences) it would be my romance novel. It’s been the best self-initiated journey I’ve ever begun! I am so proud of what I’ve done and I can’t wait to share it! It’s been a twisty journey with some challenges along the way but without a doubt, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself! I’ve officially turned pro and I’m so relieved and proud!