I’m not sure if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but it has been sticking in my mind lately. Mainly because I feel the constant pull between having to get a paying job, and continuing to strive towards really doing what I want. In my new place there is a guy that comes through every once in a while. He is a writer and a film maker. We had been talking about the struggles of being an artist and never having any money. At one point he said to me, “you know I never worry about money it isn’t important to me. I just do my work the money isn’t a concern.”
I wondered if he was of the belief that the universe provides what you need. I am envious of this mental state because I am always having to choose between what I really want to do, and what will pay me something so I can survive. Then he say’s, “I guess I’m spoiled though. My dad has a lot of money, and not that he gives me money now, but I know that when my parents pass away that I will be taken care of, so I don’t worry about retirement or if I’ll be taken care of while I’m old, so I guess it helps to alleviate any fears or control when it comes to money.”
Uh, well duh.
Not that this information distracts from his talent or ability as an artist, but this is not the artist’s stories I want to hear. I don’t want to hear about the trust funder or the at home person with the spouse to support them or the person who had the connection. They can be amazing amazing people, and artists, but not inspiring. Not to me. I want to know about the people, the artists, with no support. The ones that struggled to survive without any monetary help, and they persevered. Someone’s privilege will never lead me to discount them as an artist or a person, thank god they had some help, some support because we need artists. But, I need to hear about the single mom that raised four kids on her own and still became a successful painter, or the woman who came from poverty pulled herself up and never gave up on writing her screenplays; some kind of reminder that just because you didn’t come from the strongest background or there is no one there to support you emotionally or financially you can still live by your art.
And for those of you who have that support, that backing, don’t forget to thank the people who have supported you. It’s a competitive art world already, its nice to have someone who wants to hold your hand; and not everyone has that.
Speaking of choosing art over money. I had a temp job lined up in the next two weeks. It pays ten dollars an hour, not a lot, but money is money and beggars can’t be choosers (so I’ve heard). During the same time I was offered the chance to work with New Avenues for Youth, Write Around Portland and Portland Center Stage in a collaborative writing workshop working with homeless youth. It pays nothing, it’s all volunteer. They picked me first over all the other volunteers because they feel I work so well with this demographic (I have no idea why, I swear I never feel I know what I’m doing). Guess whose not going to be making any money? Yep the homeless youth, writing and theatre have won out.
Is it the right choice? Practically, monetarily : No. For the experience: Yes. Will it lead somewhere? There are never any promises. I don’t do it with the expectation it will lead somewhere that will be able to pay me, I do it because it makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. I do it because I am a good teacher even if I don’t have a degree to prove it. I do it because I know how to inspire people into seeing their writing abilities, because even if I don’t believe in myself I do believe in others. I do it because I get to write, and I get to talk about writing, and I’m with people who want to write and talk about writing.