Why Do We Do Art Anyway?

It’s a truism that focusing on results makes you lose track of the process. One of those things you learn when you’re older and you realize that all your best times were performing with your garage band. If only you hadn’t been so obsessed with “making it.”

That is exactly where I am.

I’ve been obsessing with “making it.” Anyone who reads my blog knows that. I’m obsessed with this idea of success. No, that makes it seem so arrogant and self-indulgent. I want to be self-reliant. That has been my experiment this year– can I turn writing into an actual, factual paying job? So far, the answer is a clear no and I feel like I’m trying to roll a boulder up a hill.

I work damn hard and no one cares.

Practically no one.

And that’s always how any kind of art (if I can be so base as to call my work art) works– when you do it for any reason other than self-expression it’s not really art anymore. It’s work. It’s still enjoyable but it’s perverted somehow. These things I’ve been working on– they are not about me, they are not my message to the world, they are not special. They are pop songs. Something that goes down easy and gets stuck in your head. Good pop songs, I hope, but still pop songs.

Catchy. Easy to listen to. Unchallenging.

I like the work, love it even, but it’s not really art. Not the way I used to do it when I was trying to say something. I don’t care about saying things anymore because no one is listening.

We do art in the hopes of expressing something true and connecting to another human being.

But that isn’t where I am or what I’m doing.

It’s nothing.

And I don’t have it in me to keep pushing that boulder up the hill.

I’m not sure where that leaves me. I committed to a one year experiment and I have six months to go. I have the funds to finish. I have two works ready or almost ready for release. They might change everything. They might keep things the same. In theory, I’ll have a good idea of where I am after I release the second (some time in September). But if I’m still nowhere… can I really keep doing this?

It’s not like I want to quit forever. But I want a break (a long break). A job that allows me to be self-reliant. I want to feel like a grown up. I want to feel competent. I want to feel worthwhile.

And that’s not going to happen if things stay the same.

And I’m not going to enjoy the process if I keep focusing on the results.

There’s no answer, I suppose. I never claim to have answers. I’m pretty sure the tagline of this blog is still “ramblings from a deranged girl.”

I can’t take six more months feeling like an utter failure. I need to grab my bootstraps and find some way to motivate myself through my two releases. Most of that work is done. It’s only the last ten percent now.

But it all feels so God damn pointless.

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4 thoughts on “Why Do We Do Art Anyway?

  1. This really struck a nerve with me. I long for self-reliance as well, coupled with the success I want from my “art”. It’s a tricky business, a balancing act, and a constant struggle it seems, but if you are still passionate, if you can’t let it go, then you may want to reevaluate your goals so you can find that balance. Creatives often plug away in sort of dead end jobs so that they can “stay hungry” and try to achieve their goals, but it gets old, fast. This probably isn’t all that comforting, but know there are a lot of us out there and we understand. Best of luck!

    • Thanks, Rachel. I have been doing that whole “don’t get a real job” thing for five years and it is way old. But, to be honest, I don’t even know where to start with getting a “real job.” I’m sure my writing, editing, and project management skills translate to plenty of jobs but I don’t know how.

      • There are a number of sites that offer useful advice in regards to jobs depending on your personality, likes, etc. Try Googling something sort of related, and then try to tailor your resume to fit the jobs that sound the most interesting. See if you can talk to people in those fields via friends or family to learn more. One other trick you can try is visiting the job boards of the sites you frequent or of the things you enjoy. If you read a lot, look up publishing houses in your area, if you’re a gamer, same thing. I kind of want to be a career counselor, can you tell?! 😉 Send me a message any time you need to chat (or vent)!

  2. family rarely understand an artist. they know that you don’t “fit in” to their understanding of a successful life. For creatives feeling like an alien or an adopted member of a “normal family” is a common theme. Embrace it and charge forward. CREATE a JOB that works for you…that is why you are creative. I know you will find a way.

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