My partner writes quite a bit, but in the past fifteen years we've known each other, he hasn't allowed me to read much of his work outside of a few poem fragments. He doesn't keep notebooks or lists of ideas. Most of his writing is for DnD, as he DM's from time to time. He'll create characters, magic items, and settings just for fun. He chooses to keep most of is work to himself, which kills me, because he has one of the most incredible creative minds I've ever seen.
Working at LSB I'm surrounded by folks who say, “Buy my book!”, “Follow me on Insta!”, “Check out my blog! I post every day!” I'll admit it's hard not to feel an immense pressure to create and release to the public.
In On Becoming Creative, Adrian Patenaude writes, “Somewhere along the way, creativity becomes a means to an end. It's not a hobby anymore; it's a career. It's not an activity; it's activism. It's not playtime; it's productivity. It's not for leisure; it's our legacy."
Unfortunately, I think this is a very capitalist way of thinking—the constant need to somehow profit or gain from our passions. Got a knack for music? Put that on YouTube. Like to write? Start a blog. Can you draw? Sign up for Instagram. Are you a singer? Get thee to Patreon!
I had a friend recently tell me that if he goes a day or two without posting his art, he loses followers on social media. I can't tell you how many times some very well-meaning people have told me I should be selling my art.
I'm not saying selling your work or posting pics on social media is a bad thing. I like a good Redbubble haul and filling up a Pinterest board with artwork as much as the next person. I'm saying that just because other people do it and it brings them fulfillment (and good for them!), doesn't mean you need to follow the same path if that's not what you want. Your work and identity as an artist isn't illegitimate; this doesn't make you unsuccessful. We all have our own benchmarks for success. Your work is significant—because it matters to you. Showing up is a victory in itself. If creating for the heck of it is your standard for success, then congrats, you're doing it right.
Photo Credit: Pexcels.com