Thoughts by Richard Bleil
My blog posts are all over the place. I sometimes have humorous blogs, or truly disturbing short stories. I write on science, medicine, politics and opinion. Today I am taking guitar and piano lessons and want to write songs (I feel like I’m about ready to take a stab at this). A little bit later this month I’ll be doing a stand-up comedy routine for charity, and I’m working with a friend on my second book. These are all current projects of mine.
But by what right? On some of these topics, I’m well qualified. With a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry, I’m well versed in my topics on science and moderately well versed on medicine, but I don’t have a degree in political science. I’ve never taken lessons in comedy, and I’m poorly experienced to be able to write music. So, by what right do I publish these opinions? With no degree in creative writing, should I have ever published Vampire Genetics?
Getting over the feeling of being “worthy” is probably one of the most difficult hurdles in a new project. I can argue that I’ve already published a book, and I have followers on this blog, but the reality is that even as I write this I have about three hundred and fifty viewers, and my book has had far fewer readers than that. While I’m proud of these numbers and thank each and every reader and follower that I have, the reality is that I’m hardly an “influencer”, a pretty young teen with millions of people following her. So, by what right do I have to even write this blog today?
The right is that given to myself. Yep, I grant myself this power. I’m currently taking lessons on guitar at the chain that sold it to me, and in the lesson waiting room, painted on the wall, is an encouragement saying that everybody who steps through these doors are musicians. I’ve called myself a music enthusiast rather than a musician, but they are right. When does one go from being a music enthusiast to an actual factual musician? Steve Martin, at the height of his stand-up comedy career with millions of fans used to refer to himself as a “semi-professional comedian”.
Technically the definition of “professional” is the first paycheck. Some months back, my blog host site began putting clickable ads on my blogs. Each time somebody clicks on one of those ads, I get a fraction of a cent, but they only pay me when I’ve accrued a hundred dollars. This year, I’ve had almost twenty-nine thousand “ads served”, and accrued a whopping eleven dollars which has not hit my account yet. Since they owe me nearly eleven dollars, am I a professional blogger? Or, since it hasn’t hit my bank yet, am I still an amateur?
Twenty-nine thousand really surprises me. I didn’t realize that I had that many ads on my little posts, or that I’ve put you all through that. That puts it at roughly four ads for each article that has been read, which isn’t bad (as long as they don’t start using pop-ups; I won’t stand for that), but still, it’s rather shocking when you see that. And the remuneration is almost enough for a really cheap fast-food lunch! I need to start planning ahead on how to invest my windfall.
This is hardly a ringing endorsement, though. It’s not a mandate from the masses that I’m doing something appealing for most people. And yet I keep going, but not because I am waiting for some external body to tell me that I’m a professional. Nobody will ever tell me that I’m a musician, or that I have the right to write songs. I’ll do it because I want to. I will not convince myself to do it because I’m so good at it (and let’s face it, early on I won’t be and may never be particularly gifted at it), but I will do it because I want to. Because I choose to believe that I’m good enough.
When I do my stand-up routine, it won’t be a paid gig. It’s fair, since it’s for charity anyway (although it will count as experience and I’m hoping to record it for my resume), but I’ll be up there because I want to be. If somebody is critical of my experience or background, well, that’s their hang-up, not mine. For me, there will be a couple of measures of success. One mandate will come from the audience. If they laugh, if the have fun, then it’ll be a success. From the sounds of it, I won’t have friends in the audience so I’m on my own and that’s okay. They have their lives to lead. But the other mandate comes from within. It’s not easy doing comedy. I’ve done Karaoke and stand-up in front of audiences, and stand-up is more challenging because they are your own words. There are no prompts, you just do it. And the mandate that says that I’m worthy is my own courage to do it.