Punk Soup for the Artists’ Soul
A great, great list of dos and don’ts for artists in any field (though it’s focused on writing here)
4. Seek Unemployment. This goes back to our Franklinian endowment, our desperate impulse to occupy ourselves with practical stuff, feeling useful, needed, employed like everyone else. This is the death of writing. Find ways to be unemployed, doing nothing, finding enough time on your hands, after you’ve met your basic needs, to wander into unknown realms of thought and imagination. You can’t do it when you’re busy working like everyone else, collecting a paycheck, keeping regular hours, depending on the goodwill and collegiality of customers, coworkers, bosses–if you choose employment in academia, it’s no different, you still have clients and bosses to please. Avoid this gentle poison by figuring out ways you can mock the system by taking from it what it needs to give you to maintain your writing, and give it nothing back in return. What it wants from you is your time–your only irreplaceable commodity, the only thing you can’t ever get back. Every minute spent teaching a student or hiring out your talents in any other way is an insult to your writing potential, and each such moment degrades you so that you can never attain greatness. They’re more than happy to give you a paycheck. Heck, there are tens of thousands of writers “teaching” writing to others, dissatisfied with their own work, and they wonder why? Refuse their devil’s bargain. Refuse them the blood and toil they want from you in return for allegiance. Work at something that mocks the bourgeois idea of work, and make it pay off. You don’t have to work for nothing. You don’t have to live on nothing. You just have to figure out how to turn work on its head so it becomes a means to feed your writing, not the other way around. Work is overrated. It’s the only overrated thing in the whole human realm.
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