Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be...

Artists.

That may seem like weird advice coming from me, the writer, animator, illustrator, choir member, ex-trombonist. But honestly. my husband and I talk about this every day. He teaches theater (among other things) and his personal dictum has always been to avoid encouraging young thespians to aspire after acting as a profession. We firmly believe, if there is anything else you can do--anything--you should choose that. There's a reason the cliche "starving artist" exists. The performing, visual, and literary arts live in the realm of feast or famine, and sadly, the famine is far more widespread than the feast.

Now, please understand me that I'm not saying this to rant or be negative or whatever other un-plasticChristian thing I shouldn't do. The core of what I'm saying here is that every person should pursue what they are passionate about, and if you aren't passionate enough about the arts to take it on the chin emotionally a lot of the time, there are so many other noble things to do in this life that don't require regular doses of sudden humility.

On the other hand, if making art is something you need to at least as much as you need to breathe, then there's really little point in my trying to convince you to count beans somewhere. After all, what the world really needs is more frustrated, misplaced people, right? But I do find that the folks who write, or sing, or paint, or weave, or dance do so because they lack wholeness when they don't. The trick is to be able to pursue those passions for the sake of pursuing them, without unrealistic expectations of fame or fortune. Sure, those things come to some. But even notoriety has its pitfalls. Commercial artmaking even more of them. (Not that it would be so horrible to navigate those pitfalls while also deciding the best way to use my five-figure royalty check from the last quarter. Ah, daydreams...)

So the best advice I can give to myself right now is to appreciate my art without weighing it down with expectations. Maybe then I'll be able to break out of this rubber room of writing scenes that go nowhere, because I will stop harboring the unconscious attitude that's what my life is doing as well.

Comments

  1. Better to do what you love in any capacity, even if your circumstance only allows for participation from the sidelines, than not do it at all. That's where the whole 'my life is going nowhere' would come in for me... not from trying and failing at 'success' but looking back and not having tried at all.

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    1. Absolutely, my friend. While I suck at failing and tend to have a very crummy attitude about it, how much worse would it be to have dared nothing, but instead, to have stayed safe in the mundane needs of each day. No regrets!

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  2. Ain't that the truth. The only artists I know who make a living at it also teach regular classes or give high dollar workshops, usually while still painting full time. Or they're illustrators for the film or game industries. (A fiercely competitive arena, too.)

    Writing is a hobby, for me, but I also have a full-time job as a homemaker. Someday I'll get published, but at the most, for me it'll only ever be a secondary job (until my nest is empty, anyway).

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    Replies
    1. Heh...no kidding about the film and game industries. 8 gagillion college grads who want about 200 available jobs industry-wide. (OK, so that's an exaggeration, but you're right about the field being deep.) And you have to be willing to be put on hiatus regularly, and when you are working, to live at the studio. There's a price for the final product, for sure.

      And I applaud your attitude that homemaking is a full-time job, perfectly worthy of considering equal in terms of time commitment to outside employment. I never thought I would long so much for the opportunity to manage my home full-time like I do now.

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