Suffering for art is for suckers

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Dumb things make my ears burn!

Dumb things make my ears burn!

You know that advice you sometimes see given to aspiring writers that goes like this:  “If you can quit writing, quit.  If you can’t, you’re a writer.”  I find that weird (unless you interpret it as “work your ass off,” in which case, it’s solid; I’m here interpreting it more like “Well, a real writer is called and can never quit”).

Most humans are, alas, constrained by time (except for me, being unstuck in it like Billy Pilgrim), so folks have to balance competing interests/loves/demands. I’ve known quite a few professionally published authors who’ve quit over the years (or at least appear to have quit, since I don’t see anything new from them). So, they could quit, and yet they’re still writers (obviously).  Presumably other things came up, things more important to them than a writing career, and so they made the choice to hang up the prose.  It’s not all that surprising. Absent a blockbuster, writing can be a tough road. Life in the midlist ain’t for everyone.

And no, I’m not quitting. Things are going great! I just dislike that advice, and other similar advice that directly or by implication tries to elevate writing to some kind of mystical calling.  It’s not.   It’s awesome (for reasons I’ve explained often) but it’s not a sacred summons carried on the voices of an angelic chorus.

Works the other way, too, in that you’ll sometimes see a commenter online somewhere who’s convinced that no one should write for filthy luchre and that the only art worth making is the kind for which the artist suffers. This is plain dumb. And it’s also an attempt to make writing mystical. Ignore all that. Write what you love and get paid for it. Get paid a lot if you can!  Suffering is for suckers.



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2 thoughts on “Suffering for art is for suckers

  1. I hear that type of advice at the majority of readings I go to. I always thought it was odd. I’ve also known a lot of artists that have that way of thinking and live in poverty for their “art,” and I always thought it was stupid. Like they can’t have a job AND a passion!
    Thanks for your musings on the subject.

  2. “Suffering is for suckers” – that’s a rare and refreshing sight to see. I knew I liked your writing style as well as how traditionally masculine you portray your characters; however, this post has just illuminated one more reason why I am drawn to your writing.

    Your characters pursue their own happiness and don’t believe in self-sacrifice (no, it’s not sacrifice if you are willing to give your life up for someone you love- someone that brings you happiness).
    The people you describe in your post, those who think that an artist/writer who desires to make money by selling their work for a profit is an ignoble money-grubber are those who elevate self-sacrifice and suffering to a more noble state than happiness. They believe that morality and happiness are opposites, and necessarily shun those who seek happiness because they see them as immoral.
    Clearly, you see the error in this logic, so I won’t continue preaching to the choir. It’s just nice to see someone defending one’s right to pursue happiness, and I’m especially pleased to see it coming from one of my favorite authors :).

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