I wanted to write entertaining books, but it was never enough for me to write and get published -- I wanted to be rich and famous. But after twenty years I’ve come to realize fame and fortune probably isn’t going to happen, and I’m beginning to feel okay with that.
Most artists will experience failure of various proportions at various times in their careers. Most will reach a point where they wonder if they should continue, where they wonder about the role their art is truly playing in their lives. Does the damage overshadow the need to create?
For many, the gut reaction to massive failure is to walk away from your art, because, after all, it’s the thing that betrayed you. Wherever you are in your career, unpublished, unsold, unrecognized, recognized by a few, recognized by a handful, you have to be able to live with your own personal level of failure. You have to somehow figure out how to make peace with it.
Walking away isn't the answer (although time away might be a good idea). You have to restructure your thoughts and expectations. You have to think of that thing you love in a totally different way, and it has to take a different place in your life.
I always said I wouldn’t write a book unless I thought it had the potential to be something big. That was the driving force behind everything I did. Twice in my career I wanted to turn away from writing, but here is the question all artists should ask themselves: Where does this need to create fit into my life? How can it enrich without doing great harm?
The majority of my friends and family are artists. They are writers, musicians, photographers, painters, so I know how much art hurts. I think the secret is to make peace with your art, figure out how it fits into your life, and most of all don’t allow yourself to feel betrayed by it.
Are you me?ReplyDelete
This is still settling in, but I already feel better for having read it.
Thank you. :) I was afraid this might be a little too heavy, but also wanted to capture today's thoughts.
Thanks for this post, T.ReplyDelete
It grinds to read this, but I know its totally true and needs to be said. I'm sorry for the hurt that creative types feel. (For the record, I still hold out hope for you.) I guess the ideal is to have just enough dream juice to keep us motivated and reaching, but just enough peace and acceptance that it doesn't twist us into ugliness when it won't seem to happen.ReplyDelete
it was hard enough for artists to make a go of it before the economy tanked, but now...ReplyDelete
as far as writing goes, it seems the only way to really make it now is to write that one book everybody is talking about. i'll never win the lottery, and i hope i'm never struck by lightning, but odds of both are better than writing a buzzed book.
this is going off topic, but i'm imagining new york city as a dart board. the target has become the size of a pin, and darts won't stick unless they hit the target.ReplyDelete
I'm no longer looking at my writing pursuits as a potential main source of income. That shift in thinking has shifted my writing goals, too.ReplyDelete
I'm not trying to kill my chances at success, but I'm no longer "Must have X agent and shoot to sell at auction", either. My main goal now is just to write solid work. Peroid.
heather, that's a healthy attitude. and there is that weird thing that occurs when you actually pull back and quit trying so hard. as soon as i quit agonizing over finding an agent, when i decided i really didn't even want one, the perfect agent came into my life. i have 100% faith in her AND i immediately liked her as a person. if she can't sell my memoir, nobody can.ReplyDelete
I too have found the strain of the economy as an artist.ReplyDelete
I am a painter and photographer and realize that there is so much I can do creatively....then I devastatingly realize that no one (in my area) is interested in my work...
I forget sometimes that I have this talent and find myself isolating and really not creating at all. It gets so disconcerting.
I have come to terms though, with the fact that I need to find income elsewhere and am 'dreading' going out into the real world...
would rather stay in mine through my lens and on my canvas....
julie, thanks so much for leaving a comment. i went to your website -- wow. you have some gorgeous work there. i know someone who says he creates the best work when he's miserable and depressed, but i think for most of us it's really hard to create when we've spiraled down. and i know what you mean about dreading going out in the real world. i don't know if i could do it unless it was somehow connected to writing/art.ReplyDelete
I have abandoned writing for so long that I now wonder if I ever had even a speck of talent for it to begin with. Being a corporate slave brings home the bacon reliably, but I still feel kind of hollow sometimes . . . the grass is always greener.ReplyDelete
But Anne, you HAVE written very entertaining books. That still means something in the world, even for everyone who is not J.K. Rowling or whatever.
thanks, mnstrpc. so true about the green grass. i think we define our own successes and failures. That definition might only make sense to the individual, which sometimes makes the whole thing harder to clarify. okay, not sure that made any sense. i haven't been smoking anything, i swear. :DReplyDelete
I've walked away from a couple of creative endeavors in my life, and now (at my advanced age, HAR) I realize that they were never as essential to my life as are the things I do whether or not they are successful. In other words, I've always been a writer, and at some level, it doesn't matter to me whether or not I'm successful at it. I'd like to be successful enough not to need another job, but if I'm not, I don't think I'll stop writing. For me, if circumstances can make me walk away from a thing, it's not really fulfilling me at a personal level anyway.ReplyDelete
MK, i'm impressed by the healthy attitude and the balance you seem to have found. it's reassuring.ReplyDelete
just letting you know i sent you an email at your gmail account. i sent it from my hotmail account (emeraldcite at hotmail), just in case it gets caught in your filter.
hope to hear from you soon!
got it! yep, it was in the spam folder. i never look there.ReplyDelete
yeah, gmail = no <3 4 hotmail. lol.ReplyDelete