''Yeah, but what's your real job?''
Picture this. I was around 13 years old, sitting in my living room with my family, watching a documentary about Fleetwood Mac. A scene flashes on the screen of Stevie Nicks, looking windswept and absolutely blow your mind magnificent, as usual. (Can you tell I'm a big fan?) She speaks slowly into the microphone with her smooth, dulcet tones and says, 'This is a song about a welsh witch'.
Thirteen year old me is
Totally overcome with admiration for this absolute female powerhouse.
She continues to sing the most beautiful, passion-filled and all round magic version of Fleetwood Mac's song, Rhiannon, and my life is changed forever.
You might be wondering, how can watching one clip of Stevie Nicks have changed your life for good? How can a Friday night, in your own living room, with a poorly recorded version of this performance displayed on a tiny 24'' TV, (and yes I know, we've all really grown in the TV department), have altered your 13 year old self?
Well, the truth about this is, that I can pin that moment, as the moment I learned that all I wanted to do was perform. I knew in that moment, that I was meant to perform. I knew in that moment that regardless of what society taught me about money, about success and about what was tangible for me as a 13 year old girl from the North of Ireland, I would create a life for myself that meant I could perform.
When people ask me why I chose this field, this industry, that is unreliable, underfunded, under appreciated and in many eyes, unimportant, all I can really answer is that I feel it is my vocation. When I perform, I feel that my soul is set on fire. When I write and someone tells me that it has resonated with them, I feel such a sense of belonging.
This year, I performed at the Adelaide Fringe with my own play The Daughters of Róisín. The play is very much an Irish play, with very Irish themes. When I got to Australia and realised how difficult it was going to be to convince a city full of Australian people to come see an international artist perform a play about history they know nothing about, I would be lying if I said I didn't feel like cutting and running. However, I thought back to my defining moment with Stevie Nicks. As a thirteen year old, I didn't know what that song was about, or where it came from. But what resonated with me was her passion, her undeniable stage presence and the feeling she gave ME 30 years after she had performed originally. That's exactly why I have chosen this path. That is why I feel such certainty about a life of creativity.
So yes, I enter into this uncertain industry with open arms. I refuse to believe that everyone who chooses a career in the arts has to fall into the 'starving artist' hole, and I do believe that in our society there is a perfect, important jigsaw piece for creative people.
So let's start celebrating, financing and supporting artists in our communities. Let's start valuing that creating, writing and performing has as much skill, value and importance as any other profession in our world. Let's notice all art in the world around us, and realise that without creativity there would be a serious lack of joy, beauty and hope.
I'm hoping that some time soon, everyone will value artists so much that I'll never be asked, 'Yeah, but what's your real job?' because, yep! I am an artist and that job is as real as they come.