I’ve been thinking about the role of the artist in our society for a while now.

Now that I’m owning the fact that I’m a writer, many questions come up like is the work I’m doing wanted?

Am I needed?

What is my purpose?

What is writing and art really for?

Then by serendipity, I came across Luvvie Ajayi, aka the professional troublemaker.

In her TED Talk she’s candid about why it took her so long to own her writing (giving up the security of a job, a retirement plan and that nagging question of how she was going to support her shoe addiction?) and what it  feels like when she’s the first one to call BS and face the consequences.

Guess what?

She’s not fearless, but the feeling that she’s serving no one by remaining silent helps her override the fear.

Like me, she can’t keep her mouth shut when she gets a whiff of BS. She finds herself up against powerful people and institutions.

Let me be clear, I found myself up against small business owners who didn’t want to grow up or grow in any way. I faced far smaller consequences than Luvvie, a loss of a job here or there but let me tell you, it’s been uncomfortable as heck for me to have people abuse me and cut off my income for wanting to improve things.

So when I recently witnessed someone come out with his own truths about an online learning experience we signed up for, my first reaction was, “gee this guy’s a whinger”.

I didn’t really see where he was coming from as I was enjoying the learning experience, going at a pace much slower than him.

I could see he was enthusiastic and had lots to share. I could also see that he was burning himself out trying to be “generous” by responding to every comment put out by over a thousand people.

So when he aired out his views of feeling like he’d been taken advantage of (a result of burnout), I held my breath. The truth is he spoke to a side of me that has a deep distrust of institutions, set ups and even online learning where it’s “safe” to share views and ideas.

The response from the organiser was not what I was accustomed to. He acknowledged the concerns and did not get defensive. He showed that he heard the criticism, considered it and left it to the rest of the participants to make up their own minds about whether the learning experience was worth the time and cost or not.

What a generous way to show up in the world. Here’s someone who’s constantly expanding his views. Finally. I’m in the right place I thought.

As for me, I went into the experience aided by the Hero’s Journey structure. I know exactly what I’m looking for –  a writing mentor and allies to help me launch my first book on time management tools and practices for us to invest our most valuable resource, time, on the life we want, one that’s going to lead to self-actualisation (for me an author who publishes – in one form or another – every year).

My original idea for running a series of writing workshops is now abandoned. I would be a BS artist if I claimed I could lead others on the journey to becoming published authors. I’m not a published author for one thing. I don’t want to be the Naked King. I need to cool my jets, sit down, finish my book, get it read by beta readers interested in putting their time management practice into place and with their help have a successful launch.

Only then can I start running workshops for others to get them established as published authors.

This is the value of someone who speaks up when things don’t feel right. If he hadn’t, I would’ve never gleaned the advice that people don’t trust me, a writer who hasn’t been published, to run workshops to help others get published.

Thank you troublemaker, for your generosity of spirit. Though, I hope you realise that we are not rats in a lab maze. We are all in this together. The maze is ever expanding (it’s the infinite game) and we’re making our own roads and dead-ends within it. Keep going, keep connecting, keep owning your truths.

And finally coming back to the role of the writer and the artist…

We are here on this earth to sniff out the BS and lapse of integrity within our social structures, (because we’re sensitive to these things), then reflect this back at the society and get someone to do something so that we may all live in a better world.

When reflecting these truths, as Luvvie would advise, let’s ask ourselves three things:

  1. Do I mean it?
  2. Can I defend it?
  3. Is this coming from a place of love (not burn-out)?

I’m proud to be a writer.