May 9, 2015

My artistic mission

I've been reading a lot of Seth Lepore's stuff lately, especially now that he's writing stuff for HowlRound about a sustainable life in the arts that has all kinds of synapses firing in my head. Via some posts on his blog, I came across Artists U, which is where I found Making Your Life As An Artist, an e-book I think anyone who wants a career in the arts should read. (If you can afford it, do get the physical copy.)

The whole thing was valuable, but the part that sticks out the most to me is how it has you re-imagine your mission: instead of simply calling yourself an artist or a writer, or a dry grantspeak that nobody understands, Andrew Simonet has you talk about your work in a way that gets the point across in a way that's both vibrant and easy to understand.

When someone asks me, "What do you do?" I now have a little elevator pitch that's short, sweet, and exciting. It conveys my passion for storytelling, the things that matter most to me, and the things I write about.

Regular Person: What do you do?
What I Used To Say: I'm a playwright.
What I Say Now: I’m interested in creating works of fantasy that takes the straight white male default and turns it on its head. I’m looking at how I can create a space in the fantasy genre for myself and people like me--queer Black women who love magic and elves and witches but don’t get to see ourselves in stories like that. I’ve written stories about a famous person crawling out of a television, a Black lady pirate falling in love with a Latina sorceress, a Black woman who is lured away by the Elvenking, and a white cop who shot an unarmed Black teenager and claimed that the boy was a werewolf.

That's probably not the best I can do, but it's not bad. It's quick, clear, and doesn't pretend to be something it's not.

I could do a lot worse than this.