punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

A message to stuggling artists

Sometimes I wonder about those who take up "careers" not because they are driven to them, but they seemed like an easy choice. Like say someone say he wants to be a comic book artist. Personally, I find no problem in that choice. But I know some people, or "friends of friends" who take jobs with really narrow fields of success, and a comic book artist is certainly one of them, without being very driven to do anything. For every Stan Lee out there, there are thousands of uninspiring lackabouts who draw, but never strive or have passion in what they do. I see a lot of this in the art field, and it saddens me, because art is a skill worth noting. But I think some, and I wonder how many, that take art as an "easy way out."

Now I say "I wonder" because I don't know. I am reminded of a "Kids in the Hall" skit where Kathy (played by Bruce McCullough) is talking about her artist boyfriend, blues singer Mississippi Gary (played by Mark McKinney):
I really like Mississippi Gary, I do. But after a while, dating a blues guy can be depressing. I mean, he brings his work home with him. I mean, Gary? I don't like Mondays either, but I still go to work. I mean, he sits around all day watching soap operas, waiting for his career to take off. He says that he's played with all the greats. I say "Good. Let's fill out a resume." But no. His whining is really starting to make me a little mad.
The line that gets me most is, "Good. Let's fill out a resume," because while that was intended to be a funny line, to me, I have wanted to say this to so many people. So many "struggling artists" who sit in the bedroom they grew up in, whining about not going anywhere, and... then not going anywhere to do anything about it. No portfolios to fill, no traveling to meet people, no head shots or business cards, no avenues to explore their own limits... nothing.

I was once unemployed for 2 years. TWO YEARS. I was laid off in Spring of 1991, and didn't get a real job until Spring of 1993 (again, thank you Tracie). That was fucking depressing, let me tell you. Of course, I didn't sit around and watch soap operas. I took care of my son, wrote a book, got some part time work here and there, and found out who my real friends were (and, luckily, 90% of them were the same ones). And I suffer depression! I mean, some depressed people don't believe me, but I often did repetitive self-injury, and had a bottle of pills in a drawer to kill myself with, and ironically, it was knowing that I could kill myself painlessly whenever I wanted to that kept me going. I hated myself, LOATHED my petulant existence. It was hard to show up to interviews during the day because I had no sitter. I had every excuse in the world to become a bum, living off my wife's paycheck with no plan, always talking about being a writer, but never doing anything. But I didn't.

I write because I have to. I don't care if no one reads my work, it BURNS to leave me, and the way I whip words about to lay them on paper is Zen-like to me. So when I was poor, I had time to write a book. And I did. Wrote it, got it edited, published, and sold. On top of that, I wrote sketches for Prune Bran, and articles for other magazines, like Gateways and Ellery Queen. Most got rejected. Some didn't, and maybe I got $100 here and there. I kept networking.

In fact, when I wanted out of retail and into tech, I tried for a YEAR before I got a job at AOL. I interviewed, applied, and sent resumes around. Sometimes it wasn't so much because I believed each one was a golden ticket, but more so that I could convince myself I was trying. I was inspired by the fact it took me 400 job applications to get re-employed, and I expected the same for tech. Turns out, it only took 20 resumes and 5 interviews. Like they say, it's easier to get a job when you have one.

I have friends who are similarly driven. Like stodgycat, who is studying law when many would say changing careers in your mid-30s is a bad idea. Those people would be wrong, of course, because he's working harder than anyone I know. Then there's maugorn who has entries in his journal filled with reasons to quit, but he doesn't, and that's why he succeeds and will continue to succeed because he's driven to succeed. I know people like dreamtigress, Lori at Beefolx, and Nancy Lebovitz who own their own businesses, and work hard to do useful things, and their work just keeps becoming better and better. Then there are people like ninjacooter and thedreamymoon going through personal struggles in finding direction, who will succeed because they keep trying new things, and never give up. There are more of you out there, too. I am surrounded by successful people, including takayla who inspires me to get up every day because she's so freakin' awesome.

If you have a dream, and you set goals, and you strive to make that dream come true... I salute you. If you're sitting at home, watching soap opera reruns, riding on the excuse of depression, composing more excuses than art... what the hell are you waiting for? Your opportunity won't drop out of the sky, and even if it did, you'd be ill-prepared for it.

Get out and do something. The world needs you.
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