value your art

night at the bookshop

marcela monteiro
May 19, 2020
art & business
female entrepreneurship
creativity

[ leia o texto em português, aqui :) ]

My name is Marcela Monteiro, I'm twenty-nine years old and I'm an artist. While facing a mirror, I repeat this sentence several times trying to get the hang of my own identity, but from the middle onwards my insecurity is undeniable: "I'm an artist". Why is it so hard to say that? What do I have to do to feel worthy of this title? And even if I did everything, wouldn't I still be missing something that is completely out of my control? Being an artist is a matter of choice or a decision of fate? And last but not least, the one question that haunts everybody who dreams about making a living out of their own art: how the hell will I pay the bills? 


I always coexisted with those questions, but recently they've been getting a lot stronger. There are multiple reasons for that, but one of them is worthy of note: since February, I've been working with kaju in some projects and, because of that, we're having a bunch of pretty good conversations about life, creativity, and career – and well, trust me, a good talk can often be a point of no return. I'm trying to find a way to explain how my perception of those questions is changing, but the only thing I can think about is telling a story, so please bare with me.


At 37 Rue de la Bucherie, in Paris, there's an independent bookshop called Shakespeare and Company. Since it opened its doors, in 1951, Shakespeare & Co. shelters writers that need a place to spend the night. In 2009, after visiting the store I could swear that the romantic tale of the bookshop that welcomed young artists had stayed in an era with no Internet, mass tourism and travel blogs. There was still a bed and some couches on the top floor, but nothing that actually indicated that it was possible to spend the night under that wooden roof. Years later I met a man that told me he had slept there while on a trip to Paris. I asked him how he did that since, during my visit, I hadn't found a poster or even a flyer about that possibility. "To sleep at Shakespeare & Co. you have to be a writer", he answered. "And to be a writer you just have to believe you are a writer". 


I remember finding that answer very annoying. I'm a very mental person. Diving deep into human behavior and over-analyzing stuff is kind of a hobby to me, so you can imagine my reaction to any variation of "just believe": I was convinced he was lying. Today, five or six years after that talk, I did a quick research in the Shakespeare & Company policies, and apparently the guy was right: to spend the night at the bookshop, you only have to stay when they close the doors.


When I think about the questions that pop up in my head when I try to see myself as an artist, I feel a bit like that nineteen-year-old girl who looked for posters, flyers, and concrete answers in a matter that is very subjective. Nobody will hang the answers you are looking for on the wall, and even if they do, it will probably mean very little if they don't come from your own gut. Talking with kaju and other creative friends, I realized that some of those questions can follow us through our entire life, so the sooner we are able to coexist with doubt, the better.


In a way – and I hope you are able to feel the mixture of pain and relief with which I'm typing this – "you just have to believe". Not because believing is the only thing that has to be done, but because when doubt holds us down, our desire to create has to push us forward. Sometimes we think you have to be known, validated and recognized to be an artist, that there is no space for questions in the face of true talent, but what I'm beginning to understand is that maybe true talent is being able to keep doing things even in the face of doubt. In the end, answers may or may not come, but we still have to be able to trust our own sensibility and just spend a night at the bookshop. Questions will be forever present, and perhaps that's exactly where the adventure begins.  



This article is part of "profession: artist", a content series about assuming sensibility, art and creativity as your work.


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written by Marcela Monteiro

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Marcela Monteiro is a writer who creates narratives in multiple formats and platforms. Her production stands out for a very sensitive point of view that frequently gravitates around everyday sensations and feelings with which everyone can identify. Graduated in Law and Mastered in Communication Sciences, with emphasis on Internet and New Media, Marcela has already worked for advertising, content and public relations agencies, producing articles, scripts and integrated campaigns for several clients. In addition to that, her work has already been published by Glamour Magazine, Casa VOGUE and the Portuguese newspaper Público.

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