The artist sits at his desk, a cigarette trailing smoke in lazy swirls is pinched between his fingers. He sighs, today was a good day. He managed to do double the work he normally did. That was good.
He would need to sell this next piece as soon as possible. Rent was due. The cat’s food was running low. The power had been cut a week ago and the water might go off any minute. If he made some money off of this, he might even be able to eat a decent meal. He hasn’t eaten in a while, but that’s fine.
One must always suffer for your art. Right?
How many times have you heard of the idea of the ‘starving artist’? The idea that all artists struggle to live off of what they do, but it’s alright because their art feeds their soul? Quite a few I’m sure.
I’m here to tell you that it’s a bunch of bullshit.
The starving artist is not to be praised for his sacrifice. He is not to be admired for his dedication. He should not be made the hallmark of what a true artist is.
He should be laughed at. Ridiculed. Slapped upside the head at least!
To starve is bad enough. To starve for your art is even worse.
Alright, maybe you’re really having a go at making your art your only source of income. Maybe you’re trying to do it full time. But you know what’s going to make that undertaking a bit difficult? Death by malnutrition.
Get a day job if you have to. Hell, get two if it’s necessary. You will find time to work on your art. You will find a way to eventually shift to doing it full time. For now, your first priority is not dying. You’ll get to independence later.
Remember that your art does not take priority over your life. As Stephen king put it in his book ‘On Writing’:
“Art is a support system for life, not the other way around.”
The next time you see the image of the starving artist, remember that he took the idiot’s path. A clever artist takes care of himself in order for him to take care of his art.
This is, of course, only applicable to those who can help it. J.K. Rowling famously lived in a trailer, struggling to make enough to feed her family, when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. She was not there because she decided to quit her job and just write full-time.
So if you have a job, or have the ability to get a job, and you need the money, then get the damn job! There is absolutely no shame in any job. So make a living and write when you can.
One day, when you’re living off of your writing, you’ll be glad you stuck it out.
What do you think of quitting your day job early?
Let me know in the comments!
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