This excellent article about there being No Sympathy for the Creative Class resonated quite a bit in the echo chamber of my soul, even though I’m not exactly what you’d call a “struggling creative type.” I have a regular job, and even if I didn’t, the freelance industry is not half-bad when you’ve made for yourself a bit of a name. (It’s a headache in other ways, having to keep track of everything you write and making sure payments aren’t missed out, but that’s a different lament altogether.)
The part I agreed with the most is this one: There’s always this sense that art is just play,” says Peter Plagens, a New York painter and art critic. “Art is what children do and what retired people do. Your mom puts your work up on the refrigerator. Or the way Dwight Eisenhower said, ‘Now that I’ve fought my battles, I can put my easel up outside.’
This is especially true of writing. The general idea is that it’s just sitting in a chair and dashing off a few hundred words. And that’s probably because that is the way it is. I cannot tell you how many people I know that speak decent-enough English, but cannot write to save their lives.
When I say “write,” I mean putting together a piece with a sense of flow, with a propulsion of thoughts and ideas making the next line sort of inevitable, the paragraph breaks and segues coming cleanly (as if the reader heard a rim shot in his head), and the whole thing having some sense of style. Most writers just practice what I call “bullet-point writing,” where the article is essentially a set of points (quotes and observations), and would read no differently if it were actually presented as bullet points.
This is not to fault the writers. People do what they’re taught, or in accordance with how they’ve been trained. It has to do with editors who’ll accept anything because deadlines are upon them, and have no time to go back and forth with rewrites. When you can “write” a story in fifteen minutes, why would anyone call it work? It’s just, as Plagens puts it, play.
PS: This article is equally true of strugglers in the movie industry, many of whom make the kind of monthly money software types wouldn’t be able to buy lunch with. It’s horrible how much they put themselves through for how little, all in the dream that, one day, they will become successful and charge crores and be able to get away with the kind of being-a-prick behaviour that they are currently at the receiving end of. There’s a reason success goes to the heads of these guys, and it isn’t ego. It’s the heady rush of moving from the bottom to the top of the food chain — the dizziness can be disorienting. I’ve paid my dues, and it’s about fucking time you paid yours, you little runt.
PPS: How true is it that “Steve Jobs and technological heroes are still worshiped… but it doesn’t translate to creative people who do things that are intangible or hard to understand”?