During my last-ever finals week and up to the hours immediately following my college graduation, I experienced two notable moments.
First, I was hired for a full-time teaching job, working with kids with learning disabilities. The job kept me in Kansas City, and I celebrated while (fairly unsuccessfully) attempting to avoid the doubts that clamored in my mind.
“You don’t want to be a teacher, Kasia. You want to write.”
Hush, imaginary career critic. This is a great first job. Not only will I stay by my friends in KC, but I’ll get to start paying back student loans. Plus, this job matters; I’m actually making a solid impact on these students’ lives.
“Fine then. Settle.”
Second, a mere three hours after my commencement ceremony finished, I was kicked out of the Senior House where I lived. Evidently, as I was no longer a student, there were “liability issues” with this school-owned property, rendering me effectively homeless.
“Employed but homeless, eh? How very twenty-two of you.”
Naturally, I thought the only thing left to do was to rebel by going brunette–quite the change after spending my college years as a blonde–and make some quality art out of my situation:
My next several days were spent in the office, and my nights were spent on the couches and floors of gracious friends. On one occasion–Memorial Day Weekend–I actually found myself back at my parents’ house in Springfield, Missouri! Visits back home are never quite like home, as I no longer have a bed waiting for me return, and instead (ready for this shocker?) I slept on a couch. Again.
I was more tired than inspired.
Then, I received a late graduation gift: a little book called “Make Good Art,” a transcript of writer Neil Gaiman’s speech to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 2012, presented with some pretty terr-if-ic typography.
Among Gaiman’s advice: “You get work however you get work” (he padded his CV); you don’t have to meet every deadline if you are likable and create quality work (admittedly something I’ve with which I’ve gotten away); and the advice that seemed suspiciously timely, given my current conditions of living:
“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.
Make good art.
I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.”
So, apologies to my parents, but I’m not giving up writing just yet. Lunch breaks, early mornings, and late evenings will be spent researching, freelancing, and blogging. I’m going to share stories with you, World (although I cannot guarantee their verity).
I am now typing away in a McDonald’s (free internet! and $1 shitty coffee, or all I can currently afford) before I go into work. I just bought several packets of Ramen noodles and 400 minutes for my pay-as-you-go phone that remains a popular let’s-tease-Kasia point on the part of my friends, so I am prepared to skate by for the next couple of months. But I’m not sure that I’m talented enough be creative if I simply had it easy, so here we go. Life is rocky, but I’m young. Time to make good art.