Friday, July 20, 2012

Professionalism


Even when the subject is magic, as in slight-of-hand, you are after a time visited with the notion of how good it would be to take this illusory artistry beyond the point of self-amusement, out into the world, where you are the one creating the illusion.  Thus you move, don’t you, from the realm of the awed viewer to one who wishes to achieve professional status.

Thus also, professionalism becomes performing the magic, the illusion, before an audience.  Payment?  Of course, but realize how relatively low on the pyramid money is.  The real payment is seeing others accept or buy into the illusion.  Another tangible payment is seeing some young person or some older cynical person become enchanted by the effects you evoke while working the illusion.

All may well be vanity, but so, too, is vanity illusion.  A cornerstone principal of Hinduism is of all that is not the godhead being illusion.

Writing is surely the use and manipulation of illusion.  Professional writing asks more nuanced definitions, such as the sense of satisfaction a writer gets from providing an illusion that transports one reader from one place to another.

If you ghostwrite a speech, aren’t you creating an illusion for your client.  If you happen to be the late Robert Kennedy, entering the African-American neighborhoods in Indianapolis directly after the assassination of Martin Luther King,Jr., thereupon presenting them with an illusion of forgiveness and comfort and resolve, aren’t you in a real way creating a landscape of illusion within a greater landscape of shock, grief, anger, and helplessness?

Thus professionalism becomes the accumulation of confidence, empathy, understanding of story, and a power of some magnitude to propel a narrative.

You have been paid for some of your illusions, sometimes in money, sometimes in complimentary copies of the work.  As well you have been paid in absolute indifference to the work, to responses indicating its triviality as well as its aptness.

And yet.

You continue to work at refining your presentation of illusion to greater enhance the sense that it might be something more than mere illusion, that there might be degrees of accuracy and compassion and wit, and that sad wisdom called humor.  If these elements are lacking from your illusions, they are not missing through your lack of trying, but rather from your lack of ability or understanding.  As a result, you look for ways to improve the quality of the illusions you seek to create.
There are possibilities with which you must in effect live in order to pursue your illusory path of trying to create vivid, compelling illusions.  Uppermost among these possibilities is the one wherein no one is interested in them because your choices had no real basis of resonance.

Part of professionalism resides in the acceptance of that hypothesis as an actuality.  You believe you’ve had enough contrary experience to convince you to the contrary, but if you’ve any hope of staying on the professional path, you must not take professionalism for granted, rather you must work at it every day, look for ways to refine and define such professionalism as you have at any given moment.

Put all your eggs in one basket, Mark Twain said.  And watch that basket. Put all your professionalism in one work, and take care of that work, but do not coddle it nor become lulled by the sense of accomplishment when you have captured a thought, wrestled it to the ground, then set it out on a page or two for all the world to look at.  If all the world only wished to do so.

Being a professional is not easy.  When you have made the move from amateur to professional, you’ve left excuses you never thought you owned, tied and packed neatly for the thrift store.

Whatever the problem, professionalism means being somewhere tomorrow where there is a paper and pen or a screen and keyboard.  And words.  And visions.  And attempts to capture them whole and set them where they can be seen.

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