Can an artist do more than survive?
I’ve often wondered if I could survive as an artist. Of course, I’ve often wondered if I am an artist at all. But, once upon a midnight dreary, I was a fairly good writer. I had a sense of the art that’s involved with writing. In fact, I think I turned out a fairly good piece, or two, that could have sold. Ah, and therein lies the rub, “could have sold”. If I’d kept submitting them, or reworked them again and again, or just wrote more, something “could have sold”. Instead, crass commercialism took over instead and I focused on making money. That took me into another field altogether. In fact, it lead me to get a technical certification and dive deep into the uncharted waters of IT industry. And, my art, such as it was, suffered for it.
So, during one holiday dinner, as I sat in a cold-medicine and Scotch haze, listening to relatives, mostly my wife’s family, chatter away about their lives and careers, I began to wonder why my professional life had become somewhat “lack-luster”. I found myself wondering what would have happened if I’d only followed through on the promise of my writing. Would I have become a Clive Barker? Or, a Frank Herbert? Somehow, I doubt it. But, still, I might have made a living at it. Mightn’t I? I mean, can one actually make a living at writing if one is not a Clive Barker or a Michael Crighton? Is it even possible? I’d like to think so, but I’m afraid that it’s not.
I think that is the pipe-dream that fed so many of us as we sat in our English classes or read Interview with a Vampire or did whatever we did that set us dreaming of literary greatness. But, honestly, I don’t think it’s possible anymore. I don’t think that a normal person living in our possession-oriented society could actually be satisfied with a writer’s salary. Maybe a Buddhist monk, but not a normal American boy like me.
But, you know, I think I’ll keep trying. Why? Because it sure beats the alternatives!