We get no respect.
Yesterday I was looking about the net–because that’s what I do–and I came across an article on Salon.com. What it basically boils down to is this: if you are a creative type person–someone who designs, or dances, or writes music or poetry or stories–as far as 99% of the world is concerned, you’re a leach. You get no help. You loose you ability to earn, and you’re not even deserving of someone peeing on you if you’re on fire.
In short, you’re wasting the world’s time.
I came across the article some hours after responding to a Facebook post. A woman in one of my writing groups, who has decided to go into writing full-time, asked if it was really normal for her friends, once they knew she was taking this great leap of faith, to pretty much abandon her and shun her like she were Charlie the Unicorn.
I told her–as did a few others–that their reaction seems normal, and whenever you decided to “Follow your dream,” and join the cast of The Starving Artists, you suddenly feel alone. Friends, acquaintances, even family–they all walk away. They leave you behind and drop you like a bad habit.
It’s their way of saying, “I don’t get it. I don’t understand what you’re doing.”
There was a time in the U.S. when culture was big. You could actually make it as a writer or musician or poet–assuming you didn’t over extend yourself and sink into a bottomless morass of sex, drink, and drugs. You could actually get props for being published; you could get recognition for having something show up in Collier’s Magazine, where your intelligence and natural wit made you a star.
These days, you tell your friends you’re going to become a writer–or worst yet, a blogger–and they look at you and give you that all-knowing glare, then say something like, “But that’s not really work; whacha gonna do for a job?”
It seems as if there’s no legitimacy in having an imagination. It’s all about makin’ those Benjamins in today’s world–and, conversely, keeping your company’s stock in good shape; something that was actually written up as an employee value at my last job. And woe be to you if you’re one of those dreamer types who wants to entertain people with your ideas and stories, because you, Madam or Sir, are nothing but a drag on this country–nay, be it the world.
I’m callin’ bullshit on it all.
Though people might seem content with accepting the lowest common denominator when it comes to entertainment–and if that statement isn’t true, explain how three movies based on a toy line from the 1980′s have generated just over a billion dollars in sales in this country–you still need those dreams to feed upon. They want to feel like there is something in their lives that makes them think a little, or vicariously live through another person, or experience sensations they haven’t in real life. People want these things–
They just don’t want to give us any help in getting them.
I feel the biggest problem to being a creative person–like, in my case, and the case of some of my friends, being a writer–is that ordinary people, the non-dreamers . . . they don’t get it. They don’t understand. They want to consume your dreams, to make them theirs. It’s like you’re a chef, and your readers are the people who come to your restaurant. You put your heart and soul into your work, and the customers eat it up. And all the while, they’ll never understand why you do what you do, or how you do it, or why you have passion for your work, why you feel you put so much of yourself out there every time you prepare a dish.
Naw. They just wanna eat the damn thing. And if you’re lucky, they won’t bitch about the taste, or the presentation, or how much it cost. And if they’re lucky, they won’t have the chance to discover if you’re really Gordon Ramsey–
Normal people–the undreamers among us–they will never get it. They will never understand that creativity is a job unto itself. It’s a job; it’s a living; it’s a life. If you make things, if you put your creativity out there for all to see–be it paintings or song or writing or even crocheting–you will always have people who’ll look at you and say, “Why are you wasting your time with that shit? Why aren’t you doing something useful?”
But their opinion doesn’t matter, because you are a dreamer–
Why waste your time with mere morals?