...occasional postcards from Washington, D.C. writer Sandra Beasley...
What if you drop the "great" from artist and just work with that? Isn't just being an artist enough? Doesn't the "great" come from other people anyway? If you think you're great (or you don't think you're great), who cares? Labels are what other people give us. Or what we give ourselves. And who gives a shit either way? Just write your poems/novels/plays, paint your paintings, go to work, go to dinner, go to bed. Problem solved.But of course it's not. I get that. I just think, Who's to say you can't be both an accountant and Leonardo da Vinci? Maybe he would have been had he been around in 2009. Or maybe he would have said screw being an accountant. So maybe you should take whatever risk you're talking about.And maybe you'll discover it's really not such a risk anyway.
Oh, you know, I disagree. I think if you're not holding your poems/novels/plays/paintings to an external standard of craft, then they can quickly slipside into acting as direct emotional expression. Sure, you can then go to work, go to dinner, and go to bed. But that wouldn't solve my problem at all. Stevens worked for an insurance company and was a poet. WCW was a doctor and a poet. Eliot was a banker and a poet. These facts are widely known. What I don't know--what I'd love to know, actually--is how did they feel about their jobs?
I think my point is that in being an artist, you're going to hold your work to an external standard of craft, no matter what. That's part of doing what you do. So you can write your poems/plays/novels, paint your paintings, write your songs, go to work, go to dinner, go to bed, and still be a part of that craft without some external measure of whether you're living up to that "standard."Some people do all of this, hate their jobs and everything's okay. Some people do all of this, hate their jobs and are miserable. There are so many variations. I think you just have to do what works for you, and if that involves some sort of risk, well then take it. That's the only answer, it seems.
Hey Stephanie--Thanks for the thoughtful second response. I don't disagree with that you're saying. But the key is in that phrase "what works for you." At what point do you decide something really ISN'T working for you, if a) it worked before, and b) the world is telling you that now (specifically NOW, with layoffs) is not a time for risk?The post wasn't really me looking for an answer. It was more me letting people out there know that they weren't the only ones feeling this way. Cheers,Sandra
I still struggle with these same issues. Right now, I freelance, I teach as an adjunct, I'm not making much money. I think, in these times, should I go back to corporate life, which I was pretty good at, though I didn't ever write when I was working, really? Should I do something I hate for money so I can start paying back my student loans from ten years ago? The weird thing is, even when I made a lot more money working corporate-ly, I always still felt that I was just scraping by. Working, commuting, the clothes, everything is expensive, money and time-wise. So it seems there's no clear-cut answer..,
nice poem. i´d not read it before but wasn´t surprised it was nin´s.
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