From the time I was a child until I went off to university, I knew exactly who I was: an artist.
Art was my everything; other interests came and went but drawing and painting were always there. Having a creative outlet helped me get through my parents’ divorce and, later, my tumultuous teen years. In fact, right up to the point where I applied for uni, I was convinced my future profession was going to be in the arts. It had to be – it was who I was.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t end up going to art school.
Instead, I spent five years chasing down my B.A. and a certificate in PR before launching myself headlong into my career. I enjoyed it, but my art seriously suffered. By the time I graduated I couldn’t have even told you where to find my once ever-present sketchbooks. All that love and passion had been buried beneath the responsibilities of adulthood and the confusion that came with realizing I didn’t know myself or what I wanted out of life quite as clearly as I had previously thought.
The loss of my creative spark broke my heart, but it was a light I couldn’t seem to summon back. I went a nearly a decade without making anything that wasn’t somehow tied to my career; something just for me.
And then, I came out.
I was in my late 20s when I finally came to terms with my bisexuality. Admitting it to myself – actually using the word and letting myself embrace the label – felt like waking up after an incredibly long sleep. I recognized myself for the first time in years and I wanted to celebrate!
Now, I don’t think I know anyone for whom coming out was “easy”. My challenge, aside from my age, was the fact that I was also in a long-term relationship with a guy. And, as my fellow bi and pan friends know, living out and proud when you’re in what people perceive as a “straight” relationship is hard.
I can’t remember what made me realize art was the answer I was looking for. It feels like one day I was feeling beat down by heteronormativity and the next I was writing my first novel about magic, adventure, and two girls falling in love.
The Star and the Ocean, the first book in the Starborn Series, quickly became the outlet through which I celebrated my identity and re-embraced my love of art. I’ve loved every moment of writing and exploring the relationship between the story’s protagonists, May and Em. These characters found a way to rekindle my artistic fire and then some – I’ve probably created more art in the last year than I have in the last 15!
Art, as it turns out, is a great way to celebrate who I am and the community I belong to. I feel like I’ve finally gotten my creative groove back. F/F characters inspire me like nothing else and using any skill I might have to celebrate those relationships and identities feels right.
It’s taken ten years but I think I finally know who I am again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time to add “bisexual artist” to my business cards 😉
Maggie Derrick is a bisexual writer, artist, and professional dog petter. She lives in Vancouver, Canada where she spends her time making things, indulging in the local food scene, and getting emotional over dogs. The beta draft of her first novel, The Star and the Ocean, is available to read on both Wattpad and her website, maggiederrick.com