Sunday 26 December 2010

Most 'creative' people I know, meet them again 5 years later and they still haven't written that novel, painted that masterpiece, drawn that graphic novel, composed that awesome set of songs, but they've thought up so many new ways to make money out of their so-called talent. Here's a little credo against becoming like them. 

There are so many ways for people with some creative ability to dumb down what they do and sprinkle a bunch of bullshit keywords and jargon over it and make money.

Most people with any talent whom I've known tend to fall quite happily into that rut and get by for years, decades even, without ever doing anything creative that stretches them to the limits of their ability and is compelled from within rather than from fiscal necessity.

To live like this is a fundamental form of dishonesty; it doesn't matter if they make token gestures like clinging to a bohemian lifestyle or refusing to wear ties. They are already cogs in the machine, because the machine is cunning and knows how to use their surface individuality to power its own cookie-cutter agenda.

Don't spend your whole life being a cog.

Start a web comic and update it at least twice a month. Write a short story every week. Keep the good ones, revise them, send them out. If they get rejected, start a webzine and publish yourself. Start a garage band. Rehearse like you mean to break into the Top Twenty, but write songs that actually mean something. Do something, anything, for the love of it. Do it consistently, keep getting better at it. It may get you nowhere, but at least you'll die having lived, and not just having packaged and hawked your surface individuality to the corporate overlords.


Suresh S said...

I should feel doubly ashamed. I rarely do anything good AND I don't make any money at it *-(

JP said...

No way dude. You're one of the good ones - you write the most awesome weird tales because you like to, and you're good at it. Publication is a step you should pursue, and I know that you do from time to time (when I prod you), but the important thing is you're being creative in the truest sense.

anna tambour said...

What a manifesto. A great call. I would also include selling out for the sake of getting something published, shown, whatever with your name on it. Being known for the sake of being known. It's like being a 'leader' no matter what harm you do to your country and the world.

aranyani said...

:) Came upon your blog thanks to Kunda. Nicely written. :)

As a dancer, I've faced this contradiction between art and commerce, to put it bluntly. For the first ten years of my solo dancing life, I performed all over the place, created work, worked hard and usually did it for free. But now, ten years on - I'm not willing to do it anymore. I completely agree with you when you say that dumbing down your art form for money is a fundamental form of dishonesty. It's lame.

But then when I don't dumb down/lower my standards/sell out, I don't feel any shame in demanding a price for it. Like any other service in the world, performing arts should not be taken for granted to be 'free'. While its very benevolent that the 'aam janata' gets to see art for free, the only person that goes into losses is the creater/practitioner/performer of the art, no? Why should the artist endlessly live an impoverished life? Why should we always do things for free? A doctor doesn't treat patients for free, a lawyer doesn't take cases for free. Why us?

Incidentally, I also write a blog. Perhaps it might interest you. :) And it, too, is absolutely free. But of someone one day wants to publish my writing in a magazine,webzine, paper, journal, I do hope to get paid for my words :P

JP said...

Anna: Glad it made some sense.

Aranyani: I believe we have at least one more friend in common! I didn't mean to imply at any point that one should not seek payment for one's work. I'd love to be paid for my fiction, and occasionally have been, but I also reserve the right to set my stories free, as it were, if I want to. I think it's about finding what can fund your dreams because people rarely pay you to pursue your dreams.

I do have a profession that I am reasonably good at and get paid reasonably well for (It also involves writing, but not of the sort I practice here or in my fiction) and I consciously try to use that to give me the security I need to pursue writing, music and the care and feeding of cats. What I'm arguing against is pursuing that security and losing track of what makes you tick.

JP said...

And yes, simply giving away what you do for free can be a mug's game. I do however think there's a difference between doing it on your own terms - in your own venue perhaps, funded by fees from lessons and workshops you conduct - and performing free on someone else's platform in the hope that some recognition will rub of onto you.

aranyani said...

I completely agree with you. And everything you've said in your post as well. I was just adding another dimension, complicating it a little bit. And perhaps even venting a bit. :) Of course, an artist has the right to do things for free if they want to. And they should have the freedom to demand a fee if they want. I think its the freedom that lacks today. Whether a dancer wants to perform for free, wants to get paid or wants to spend money out of his/her pocket, is really not up to him/her at all! Anyway, I don't mean to contradict, but rather wanted to add to what you were saying. :)

Yes, we have more common friends, i know! Will meet up soon for more heated discussions in person, I'm sure!

Feline said...

Absolutely ... people keep telling me about the book they are going to write when they find out I'm an editor but none of them has actually done anything about it. Salut to all of you who do more than just dream