Spent the holidays chatting with my son, Todd, who is getting his Masters in Art, and with my brother-in-law Micheal Brockman, who is the artistic director of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra.
What was striking was how many of us have the same concerns about our art, though we are all in different fields.
There is the "making a living" part, which necessarily interferes with the "art" part.
There is the choice between doing functional art, versus experimental art.
Todd is at a place where he can either try to continue his education, getting his Doctorate, or immediately become freelance, pursuing his artistic vision, or being practical and making art that he knows will sell. Commercializing, so to speak.
I don't really have this dilemma. What I write is commercial, I believe. But I didn't purposely set out to write that way, it's just the sort of thing that interests me. Though...I do make some choices that may not be the smartest because that is what the "art" demands.
It probably wasn't a smart choice to write a vampire trilogy, knowing how many vampire books there are, but that is where my "art" took me.
As Artistic Director, Micheal must necessarily spend a lot of his time organizing and promoting his next concert.
I sidestepped many of these problems by simply ditching my art for 30 years and making a career, then coming back and diving head first into the abyss. I think most people who do this never come back, or come back without any ambitions.
It worked for me, I think. I'll probably produce as much fiction this way than I would have if I'd kept writing. Part of this is an accident of history -- I came back to writing just as the internet was opening doors. I came back to it just as keen as I was when I left -- which might be unusual.
I also have lost interest in "literary" writing, so to speak. I believe if I write something truly good in a genre that is every bit as valid as any so called literary work. Probably more so. So that has really freed me to write what I want.
Anyway -- in a highly simplified way -- the general problems in all arts seems to be art versus commercial, the need to promote your art superseding the actual art, the trying to find a niche that you are both interested in and where you can have some success.
Making a living and living your art.
Different arts, same pickle.
3 days ago