Wednesday, August 10, 2011

You make a living doing that? The Shameless Author...

You make a living doing that? The Shameless Author...
I was recently at a BBQ being held by some of my love’s friends. People I had never met, who kindly opened up their luxurious home and invited us in for an evening of fun. This is how I would like to remember them, in fact for the most part I recall them as being extremely giving, generous, outgoing people yet something about the first few minutes of our encounter has made me reflect on how society views people who work in the arts.
My love never hides the fact that I am an author; in fact he is more than happy to share that information with anybody who asks, knowing that my pen is such a big part of who I am, it is a natural part of any introduction he makes. Yet it has occurred to me, that more often than not, the first question asked with regards to my work is not, “what do you write about?” or “where can we find your books?” or even (and yes I know I may be asking too much) “do you enjoy what you do?”; rather it is a very pointed, in your face and blunt referral to societal perceptions about the starving artist syndrome, “So, can you make a living doing that?”.
I was reflecting on this question this morning and the impact that it has on the people you ask it to and it occurred to me that I have been hammered with this same question in various different forms of delivery by almost every single person I have encountered along my journey thus far as an author. Friends, family, strangers... it never seems to matter the relationship or even if we have a relationship, this one question apparently is not outside of the realm of propriety. Of course, no other author, poet, artist, photographer or explorer of creativity would dare, nor would I think the general populace dare ask the question of say a police man, teacher, or even a waitress... but they will ask an artist, and shame on me for bothering all this time to answer.
I am usually left with a feeling of discomfort, as if I have been purposely put on the spot, and I struggle to find an acceptable answer, all the while catering to their perceptions of what life ought to be about and forgetting to stand on my truth and tell them exactly how my life is...
Maybe I ought to be more honest in my answer, maybe I ought to tell them that as it stands, I am not a wealthy, world renowned author, but that I know in my heart I will be. Maybe I ought to tell them that it is to people like them that I write, to try to get the message out that as long as you stand in your judgment of what is right or not right for others you will continue to place yourself in a position to also be judged. Maybe I should tell them that in the simple asking of such a question, they are implying on a subconscious if not conscious level that the arts is not a valid career choice and if this is the case then they ought to stop listening to the radio, playing their iPod and going to the movies. Maybe I ought to explain to them that when they in their ignorance make such an implication they in turn damage on an unconscious level if not on a conscious one the perception that the artist themselves has about success and wealth. Maybe I ought to, but I won’t...
I understand that their perceptions of what is important are not the same as mine, and I understand that it may be their chosen path to live in that reality. I understand that they may not realize how important an artist’s work is, not so much to the public but rather to the artist themselves. I even understand that I am most purely me when I can be understanding about them not understanding me at all. I would however love for them to at least try...
You see I have thought this through very carefully, and after much quiet contemplation I have come to the conclusion that there is really only valid answer to such a question...
So the next time somebody asks me... “So can you make a living doing that?” I will answer “But, yes of course, I do it every day, for writing is part of who I am, my pen is an extension of my me and without them I will not be whole, I will not be well, and in time I will give in, give up and fade away... so yes, of course I can make a living doing this, it is the not doing it that I cannot make a living on...”
Of course if they switch the question up to “can you make money doing that?”, I will have to change gears and very bluntly tell them that “yes, of course I make money doing this, each and every time somebody reads my work and realizes just how bloody good I am at what I do”.
Jean Victoria Norloch
PS... If you are reading this and you really want to know if I am good at what I do... you can find out for yourself for 99cents by checking out my latest novel... Crashing Back to Earth – you never know, it might just change how you view the power of artistic expression ...



No comments:

Post a Comment