Turning a Curse Into A Blessing
What is the curse?
Generally, the curse, and the blessing of the artist is the desire or urge you have. The urge can be healthy or unhealthy, benign or malignant, but it is the compulsion that drives you in this world.
We all have these urges. Many of them are common to all humans; the desire to have sex for example is almost universal, and it causes us to cross into each other’s forbidden boundaries in order to share something otherwise inaccessible.
Our desire to create is related to this and of course there are so many factors that drive these compulsions. I think a lot of it comes down to the path we have chosen as a species, to be endlessly industrious. So many worker bees finding a purpose to keep them busy throughout their days.
The urge to create gives us agency over our lives. For more sensitive souls, art can give us a passive mode of dominance. When direct dominance in order to establish territory and the like is not palatable, the role of the muse can be a perfect substitute, a trojan horse for the indirect, an artifice, a more potent prosthetic than the one available naturally.
And then, sometimes, the urge to create is just all over the place, across all mediums, and it may not even conform to a certain field. I see the artist at work in all fields, and this relativism might only compound the problem of infinite direction.
So often the crisis for us amounts to a crisis of time, and/or, money. How can we free up enough time for ourselves to engage in the creation that we know we are capable of, without going broke, without failing to provide for our dependents?
People look to religion, or science, or whatever narrative satisfies them to make sense of the world. What happens to us in an unpredictable world is out of our control. The world can be gracious, but also cruel, and has been positively vicious to countless innocent souls.
The truth, and it may be ugly, is this: If you want to live the life you want, you have to sell yourself in the process… well, it doesn’t have to be yourself that you sell, but you have to sell something. In the case of the artist, you probably ought to consider selling your art. I ought to consider selling mine. I sell my skills, I sell my talents, I sell my knowledge base, but I don’t sell my art. Why? What is missing?
What’s missing, and it is the flip side of the key. It is that in order to sell, you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that what you make has value. You have to even go a step further and believe that even though people haven’t realized it yet, they need what you have and it is your purpose in life to give it to them. You have to believe this even when 100 or even 1000 people tell you no.
in times like this, don’t think of Charles Bukowski, a man who was rescued by a rogue publisher from a life of obscurity. As the saying goes, in life, we make our own luck.
The only things standing between us and our independence as human beings is 1) our ability to create value and 2) the presence of belief that what we have to offer to the world can be monetized, that people will pay us for being us.
Easier said than done, to be sure, but the belief that we are equipped with market value just by being ourselves, by doing what we love, and by having the audacity to ask for money in exchange for it is the key and the blessing. If you are an independent artist, not represented, then selling what stands between where we are now and the chance to live our lives on our terms.