In May 2015 I wrote a blog post "Where Do I Go from Here?" I had given up my previous dream job as a screenwriter, my heart was broken and I had little idea of where to turn next.
After some soul searching I came to the conclusion that it didn't matter that I had no five or ten year plan and that in that moment - as uncertain as it felt - I had to do what I love and share it with others.
I have since let that idea navigate me through the emotional storm to become a working artist and illustrator.
As I begin to create a successful business, I have had close friends ask me if I miss screenwriting, after all, it was part of me; I was part of it. I belonged to a community of like-minded people pulling the oars together - not always in sync - but a "tribe" all the same. An inclusive community I had never encountered before. Yes, I miss them. If any of them happen to be reading this: I miss you.
I miss their unwavering optimism and self-belief; their willingness to be vulnerable in situations way out of their comfort zone. I've learnt how to be a working creative from them. I learned that networking isn't about saying "hire me!" Rather it's about asking "what can I do for you?" There is a subtle, yet powerfully rewarding difference. I miss their encouragement and their generous spirit; their humour and their uncanny ability to make me feel comfortable in a crowded room. These qualities are infectious.
My identity as a screenwriter was so firmly established in my own mind that through this transition I haven't felt like an artist. I've been able to say it out loud when people ask me what I do, but something uncomfortable happens in my heart when I utter those words "I'm an artist". Somewhere deep inside my heart still believes or wants me to be a screenwriter, yet my conscious mind tells me otherwise.
So, I ask myself: When will I feel like an artist?
I've heard other artists struggle with this same question. Some believe it will come when they have mastered certain skills, received recognition from peers or establishments, or with a simple acceptance that if you create art, you're an artist.
I guess I fall into the first camp: I've held with the belief that it'll come once I master the art of expression - (which is what my Year of Expression has been about)
However, as I sit here reflecting on things, feeling excited by projects currently on my desk, the fog of uncertainty is lifting and I'm beginning to feel the buzz of ambition, new dreams and possibilities.
When I consider the notion of identity, I look to what I do or how I relate to the world, but maybe our identity is also connected to our hopes for the future; it is where we find the coolest version of ourselves; a version we're proud of.
For twenty years, I had dreams of writing and, maybe one day, directing an award winning feature film. Yes, I dreamed of working with Sir Kenneth "chuckles" Branagh. More significantly, the coolest version of me was part of a vibrant community. We help each other out, pooling our resources to create something magical; we give support in the good and the bad times.
I believe it's been my grief in leaving - and therefore losing - my wonderfully strong and inspiring screenwriting family that has caused my reluctance to accept this change in my creative direction. The last two years have been lonely in comparison. Where is my new tribe? To whom do I turn when my project has reached a dead end? Who is my mentor character giving me a gentle nudge in the right direction? There is still some plotting and casting to be done on this story.
I've been shy, but now I'm beginning to rediscover collaboration as new exciting projects come my way.
Writers, filmmakers and musicians, don't take your fellow creatives for granted, they are your cheerleaders. And know that you have an artist in your network too.