Today I want to ask a very simple question: Why do you write?
The answer to this question is most certainly different for everyone. Some people write professionally, some do it for fun, some do it as a hobby.
But one thing that all writer seek, I believe, is affirmation. And this is true for any artistic profession: an actor, a painter, a sculptor, a dancer. When they’ve completed their work of art and share it with whomever their audience is—especially when they’ve put their heart and soul into that craft—they want affirmation.
There are some people who are technically professionals at their art. They get paid, and as such they necessarily have to churn it out left and right day after day in order to get food on their plate. The fact that they’ve taken their passion and turned it into something financially lucrative is very admirable. But this can very easily lead to burn-out, and turn what was once a passion into cynicism and repulsion for whatever the art once was. Certainly not necessarily the case, however.
But many artists are not in it for the money–it’s not what necessarily drives them. And when something is driving them apart from money, you can see how that leads to the stereotype of the starving artist.
On a somewhat related note, I took acting classes back in college. I found it an extraordinary opportunity. It was fun, and I certainly like being able to express myself in that way. I would do it more now if I had time (will talk about time restrictions later).
Actors stereotypically live for that affirmation—for that time in the limelight and a round of applause at the end of the show is sometimes what keeps them going. After putting themselves on display emotionally for the audience to see, to not know that they did a good job can be heartbreaking.
And yes, I am talking about stereotypes here. But more often than not, stereotypes speak to a degree of truth.
My question then is this: why bother doing this art if you’re not going to share it with others? Why bother writing anything if you don’t want anyone to read it? You might as well just keep it in your own mind if you’re the only one you plan on getting any enjoyment from this. Because of this notion… because we want to seek out people that will relate to our work as writers or artists, that’s how it becomes a social intermingling of the minds. Especially with works that are close to your own heart that come from a place deep within you. You want to find someone with whom those works will resonate. You want to find that person or persons who will tell you “That really spoke to me on a personal level. Good for you, I’m glad that you made this. I’m better off for having experienced your art,” or something to that effect. It indicates that something that came from inside you has value.
Let’s talk more about value. So, not only am I a webcomic writer and artist, not only am I a writer of stories long and short, but I have two part-time jobs, two kids that I look after while my wife is at her full-time job, and a house and yards to clean and maintain and that sort of thing—the responsibilities that go with being an adult and living life. Because of that, I find it very challenging to find the time sit down in peace and write, draw, and actually do my art. Time is very limited in that regard. Thus, my time is very valuable. And because of the heightened value of my time, I often find myself asking myself: Is it really worthwhile spending all this time working on whatever story I want to work on? I could spend this time cleaning, fixing stuff around the house, spending time with my kids, or anything more ‘useful’ in the utilitarian sense, or productive in a basic maintenance sort of way. I could be corresponding on email, but no; if you know anything about my comic, you know how I’m spending my time: I’m making pixel art and then copy-and-pasting that same pixel art again and again into the panels in a very tedious sort of way. So I often ask myself is it even worth it?
I like to think it is worth it. I am seeking the same affirmation I spoke about earlier, and I know that my comic resonates with at least one or two or however many people in my audience. The more the better of course!
Seeking out the value and affirmation is certainly what drives me. And I think (I could be mistaken) that the same thing drives most all of creative minds. Again, talking about the starving artist: why on earth would someone put themself through the pain of barely having enough food to eat at all or pay rent or whatever just to be able to keep up with their art? Because there is something in their unprofitable work that they hold dear, and they’re trying to hold on for long enough until they find an audience member who would also be able to see that exact same value.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I hope that just maybe, we were able to find some of the resonance I was talking about. If not here in this blog, then maybe in some of my other works. Be sure to check them out here! [WORKS]