“Are you a full-time artist?” is the challenge of the year. It’s not enough to wring out your imagination on your desk regularly, or to create something original. No, no, you have to do your art only. And you have to make enough money on it to support yourself, your aging parent, your college-age child, and buy groceries. Because otherwise, you are not a “real” artist.
When I quit selling my art and turned to working on my art privately, I did it to give myself permission to explore more deeply, to work harder, to not worry about what would sell or how to reproduce popular items. I was tired of running my creativity through my bank balance for approval.
As a writer, I am not asked if I write full time. But by “writing,” most people mean, writing fiction. I’m not a fiction writer. Non-fiction, poetry, workbooks on writing–yes. Novels, short stories? No. I’m a non-fiction writer. And since I write, develop training manuals, teach writing, study poetic medicine and healing, I am a full-time writer. But I don’t write full time.
In fact, I don’t think doing any art, from writing to sculpture, dance, music, or weaving, to the exclusion of everything else, is good for the creative soul. Creative souls need to draw from life, and that life has to be varied, colorful, boring, fascinating and idea-provoking. Too much time doesn’t increase the quality of work. An artist has to live to have material to use for ideas.
T.S. Eliot was a banker. William Carlos Williams was a doctor. Ezra Pound was William Butler Yeats’s secretary and Wallace Stevens was a lawyer and executive at The Hartford insurance company. Too many poets in that list? Raymond Chandler was a bookkeeper at an oil company, and Steven King worked in a laundry.
Time invites self-involvement and self-involvement invites boredom, says Julia Cameron, in The Right to Write. Creative people need to have roots, and the roots need to be buried deep in native soil, to remind the artist from where the strength rises.
So if you have a day job, a night job, a part-time job, two full-time jobs–it does not mean you are not a full-time artist. Putting food on the table is a wonderful thing. Artists and their families think best on a satisfied stomach. Having a job and being an artist simply means you are creating while being alive. And that’s a good thing.
Here’s the giveaway –if you write, sketch, think and want to capture your thoughts, you need a journal. If you like more of a journal, here’s one by Three Sheets. The covers of his journals and sketchbooks are made from beer cartons. This one is Devil Dancer India Pale Ale. It’s roughly 5 x 5 x 1.25 inches. The pages are a rich, smooth, bright white paper. I watched Aaron use a Copic (alcohol) marker and it did not bleed through. So pencil, ink, charcoal, markers and a light watercolor will work just fine.
The inside covers don’t look like beer cartons because they are covered with a wonderful patterned paper. The binding is a sturdy long stitch. You will be able to put the journal flat on the table and work to your heart’s content.
The other journal is a craft paper Midori, spiral-ring bound. It’s in the original packaging from Jet Pens. It’s smaller (a bit under 6 inches x 4 inches) and great for dropping in a purse, pocket, or car seat. It’s on the left in the photo with the open Devil Dancer journal, below.
So there is a fat journal for the fast worker and a small journal for the take-along journaler. Or sketcher. Or keeper of ephemera and photos.
What you do with them is up to you. Leave a comment below (please do not send me an email) if you want to be included in the drawing. The drawing will be random, so which one you get will be a surprise.
The Devil Dancer journal is limited to shipping in the U.S. because of its bulk. If you live overseas, and your name is drawn, you will be sent the smaller journal.
I’ll draw the names and announce the winner on this coming Monday, May 2, 2016.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer, poet, teacher, creativity coach, and creative instigator.