I woke up this morning angry. Very angry.
One of my friends, a struggling photographer, has produced some of the most amazing pictures I have ever seen. People look at her photos in awe, repeating the word “wow” at her photo shows. Then, they slowly slip away, hoping not to be noticed by her, refusing to buy any of her pictures.
She has decided to quit, despite enormous talent and the urging of all her friends and family to keep going.
But people can only take so much.
Recently, I have written a series of self-published books, uploading them onto Amazon. I was told by many people that my writing is very good and I should “write books.” I have discovered that many of those same people who urged me to publish, are not buying.
Many e-books are either free or as little as 99 cents. Are you kidding me? We won’t spend 99 cents on a well-written book, but buying a fancy $10 cup of coffee – well, that’s a no-brainer. Authors might spend weeks, months or even years writing a book, only to have it ignored.
As a society, we have devalued the creative arts.
And yet – today, more than ever, we are in desperate need of beautiful things. We don’t understand and appreciate the therapeutic benefit of looking at an interesting painting – one that can make us calm, reflective, and see life as a miracle.
There are advantages to being the artist too.
We don’t have to be the greatest creative mind in the world. We just need the freedom to express ourselves. But society puts very low value on creativity, despite the urging of corporate gurus to nurture it in the workplace. As a result, most of us don’t even bother picking up a paint brush, typing a story on the keyboard, or doing anything creative.
If you want to make a living being an artist or writer, even if you’re okay with just getting by, and not getting rich – you will be told that you’re crazy to even think it. People view you as lacking in intelligence.
There are those who make the argument that the arts began to die with the emergence of the industrial revolution, when the only work of any value was in the factories – and that we’re stuck in that mentality still to this day. Others say that artists got a bad name because a good number of them were “crazy” such as the mentally ill artist Vincent van Gogh (who was actually, one of the kindest and most spiritual beings on earth) and the genius writer Ernest Hemingway who committed suicide. To be creative is somehow associated with being “disturbed.”
These may be factors – but, no – I’m afraid the primary reason that creative expression is tossed aside has more to do with our insane obsession with “self”. We are people who look inward, constantly trying to satisfy our urges for pleasure and happiness, the rest of the world be damned. The “me” generation, successful at producing a caring deficit, believes that if it wasn’t “done by me, or for me” then it’s useless.
My friend on the west coast whose artistic talent rivals that of the great painters of old, spends his days as a fast-order cook. Another friend whose brilliant poems went nowhere in the published world, now posts her thought-provoking imagery on her Facebook page for an audience of 15 people.
We are in need of creativity to open our minds, to bring us back to a simpler time, to help make this a more livable world.
Have you exercised your creative juices lately? Have you tried to sell your good works and been disappointed?