It was about 15 years ago in the year 2000. Yes, I’ll start way back then. I was working at Virgin Megastore in Times Square as the receptionist/office manager/operations manager/everyman. The picture above is of me hanging out in the store’s boutique sporting heart-shaped sunglasses.
It was the golden age of Virgin, when we all brought music in physical CD format at physical stores. MTV’s TRL was at its peak and you could see the giant neon Virgin sign right outside of their studio window as the backdrop for the show. It was rare for one of their artist not to make an in-store appearance immediately following the taping along with the mob of screaming teenage girls and tourists.
I was a background “everyman” at the store. One of my mudane responsibilities was to maintain that giant storefront sign and schedule its repairs. There were multiple lamps in the sign, blinking 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and in any given week any number of them would go out. Since the sign was being broadcast nationally on a daily basis it had become one of the most recognizable symbols in Giuliani’s New Times Square and repairs were a high-profile priority.
That iconic sign and I had developed a very intimate relationship. I knew what every light was doing, how bright or dim each lamp was and how fast or slow each one turned on and off. I used to watch reruns of TRL and was able to tell which date the episode was taped just by what the lights were doing on that sign.
Yep, it was the year 2000 and it was an important job back then. A job I initially started in the late 90s after leaving a decade-long, lucrative, and stable career of working as a medical secretary to do something I thought was fun. I began as a sales associate at Virgin in Union Square, taking a large pay cut all the way down to minimum wage, working my way up to the flagship store to make slightly above minimum wage.
But I didn’t mind it at first. I was really happy about the choice I had made. I traded in white coats and doctors for black t-shirts and superstars. My salary was a sacrifice to work in an industry that fed my inner artist, surrounding me in a creative and dynamic environment. It was a conscious and deliberate choice.
I even got to do a little drag! That was not an option at the hospitals.
I had always desired to be an artist from childhood, but as an adult I had to pay bills. I went to a performing arts middle and high school with desires of being a professional artist; however, reality and adulthood set in and my artistry became a hobby. Making a living wage became my course. I consider my career change from the medical field to entertainment to be my first major step in rediscovering my creative self.
So, here I was back in the year 2000, the start of the new millennium. I had been working for Virgin for a couple of years by then and though the air was filled with electric energy, I was longing to do or be something else. Simply being surrounded by that energy was no longer enough. I wanted to be that energy.
The second major step in discovering my artistry was starting The Artist’s Way.
One night, I was home bored and flipping through the television channels when I came across a public access show. There was a man just sitting there talking with a phone number blinking at the bottom of the screen. I have no idea what the name of the show was or who he was. I’m not even sure what the premise of the show was. He just sat there and said, “Call me if you have any questions about anything.” I guess he was some kind of life guru. I called him.
“Yeah, so, I want to be an artist and I left my boring administrative career and took a giant pay cut to work in entertainment/retail and a not as boring administrative career, because that was close enough to it, and it’s fun and all but I’m not doing what I want… It’s sort of like a compromise, but I don’t know… You have any advice?”
The next day I brought the book and started to read it. In general, The Artist’s Way is sort of like a self-help book for artists. It’s a tool to overcome creative blocks, not just writer’s block, but all matters of clogged artistic energy.
I started it on September 9th, 2000. I know this specific date, because there is a contract you make with your inner artist within the first few pages that you sign and date before embarking on its journey. I still have that copy.
Since then, I have travelled down the road of The Artist’s Way numerous times, revisiting it whenever I felt like I was in a creative slump. This week, is my first week in starting it again for maybe the sixth or seventh time since September 9th, 2000.
This blog serves as the first entry in my reflective journal. It is my public way of documenting the process I am going through as guided by The Artist’s Way. It is also my way of sharing the gospel or “good news” of this book with other artists who are blocked or seeking to discover their full creative potential through this powerful and life-changing tool. As I go on this journey, I welcome you to join me.
Here’s to a productive and creative new chapter in my life as an artist!