Why write? Why draw? Why make art at all if no one sees it? Most modern schooling teaches us to think of creative activities as pointless unless they create a stream of income and we just carry that programming along with us and think it’s true. And it is true to some extent, if we want to make art full-time…we have to eat…
When I started blogging I was reading the books of Dr. Eric Maisel. After years of making my income from my creative output, I’ve been struggling with the idea that I can take a step back, take the pressure off myself and just make art for the sake of making. I have a ‘day job’ that has nothing creative to it at all and I like it that way! I put away all my art materials because I got to the point where I hated drawing and painting. It seemed to have no ‘point’ if I wasn’t working on commissions or selling the end product. Sometimes I feel guilty for devoting so much time to writing. It’s almost as though I feel I have to justify the time I spend creatively, but only to myself! My family are supportive, any pressure is only coming from the crazed inner-voice that’s demanding I have something to show for all the time I spend writing! And by something, I mean dollars in the bank!
Since I was a small child, I wanted a creative career. I always wanted to be an artist, and I pursued that doggedly. I had my own giftware design business for 15 years and for seven years I was an in-house artist for a successful gallery and interior design supply firm. I was determined to make a living creatively and never once felt I was selling out. Dr Maisel assures us that art is a path we can take to creating meaning in life but that it’s also totally cool to create a stream of income from that art if that’s what you want to do (and if you’re fortunate enough to manage to do that!)
Either way we’re off the hook; there’s no selling out or failing. It’s all art and its meaning is found in what we ascribe to it.
The main difference between writing and visual art for me is that I actually enjoy writing, not just ‘having written’. I could write just for the hell of it eight hours a day! But I am not going to lie; I want to sell my work eventually. At some stage in the future I want to see some kind of return on investment, even if it’s more chicken-feed than goose that laid the golden egg. And I know I am not alone in this desire.
So I keep writing and posting and pinning and writing. I’m not afraid to put my work out there for people to read and critique. In fact I’d prefer a critic to crickets…It’s almost like I need validation one way or the other… 😉
In the absence of positive feedback I’m going to assume the opposite it true so I keep shouting into the wind, metaphorically standing in the middle of the MCG (insert name of huge stadium in your city…) reading out my stories for whoever is out there listening.
I have a good thick hide for criticism. That was one incredible positive that came out of making art to order for all those years. Strangely enough, while I became accustomed to using criticism to improve, at the same I developed an aversion to making anything other than what I wanted to make! No more art to match the curtains, and never would I write ‘to market’. So I keep writing, and talking, and writing and hoping, and writing…
There are so many assisted publishing companies out there. I received a phone call today from one that I contacted more than a year ago to get a quote. I am so glad I didn’t go ahead with print copies of my book because it really wasn’t ready. His schtick? Oh, Christine, this is a wonderful manuscript. I have just finished reading it for the second time. ‘Lovely,’ I said, ‘who is your favourite character?’ ‘The main character,’ he replied. Right…
Dude, I think your pants are on fire…
It wasn’t a good manuscript, the 126,000 word second draft I sent them last year. It was a start, but it wasn’t great. I have culled more than 30,000 words from the original manuscript, done countless hours of editing, and rewritten the beginning and the ending! The guy was pretty aggressive so I hung up. Not sure why they take that tack with potential clients. Seems counter-productive to me!
Christine, interesting post. I have long been intrigued by the fact that Emily Dickinson wrote nearly eighteen-hundred poems in forty notebooks and on loose sheets of paper which she stored in a locked chest. Her sister Lavinia found them after Emily’s death. We might well ask who Emily Dickenson’s intended audience was; for whom was she writing? I once asked an artist why she paints. Her answer surprised me. She said she painted because it made her feel better. I like that. She was not putting forward the idea of art as therapy, although, it can be, of course. I think that what she meant was that painting made her feel whole, “authentic,” in Sartre’s sense of the word. It was part of who she was.
That is incredible. I hadn’t heard that before. She was a victim of her era perhaps? For women it is far too recently that our voices weren’t welcome.
I grew up in a Brethren family where women were seen and not heard. It’s entirely possible I became an artist to piss my parents off, though I write because it makes me feel ‘better’. I stopped painting because it made me feel horrible (I may have had a major insight here, 🙏) but I still ‘want to’ want to paint. I deeply love painting and it pains me that it has become a source of psychological distress.
I dont think my comment went as it asked me to sign in and password for wordpress didntvwork 🙄🤪 BUT i give you an A+. – Love the gif and love how u see the funny quirky side in life 🙏
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Hahaha thank you. 💋
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