March 10, 2010

Art and Commerce

A singer songwriter friend of mine sent me this (apocryphal) Townes Van Zandt quote recently: “There’s no money in poetry. That’s what makes the poet true.” He went on to say that he has a strange attraction to things that don’t make money, such as music, poetry, and physics.

What an age-old thorny issue.

Being raised on a ranch, the practical side of me says (to myself when I think about writing), “Are you a fool? You’ll die starving in the gutter. Your kids will hate you. Your husband will divorce you for a hottie with a trust fund.” All the rest of me, to my very core, says THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME.

My husband said something very sweet to me the other day. We were talking about what the kids might be when they grow up. I said, “Well, if they’re going to be artists, they’d better also think about how they’re going to make a living.” My husband said, “No. If they want to be artists, let them be artists. We’ll support that. Life’s too short to do what you hate.” Isn’t that just the sweetest thing in the world?

I am still a very practical person. Maybe, some day, if I’m luckier than 99% of other people, I’ll be able to be a full-time novelist, but I don’t think I’m that lucky. All I can do is work on what I have control over ~ becoming a better writer, making writer friends, doing things the way you’re supposed to.

As far as no money making the poet true, I don’t know. A part of me says that ~ speaking for myself ~ I have to write what I have to write. I think it’s impractical to think that you can chase the market, especially for a novel, so I’ll write what I need to write. I’m definitely open for guidance from industry professionals, but that’s not going to affect my style because I am who I am. But my husband says, “Watch out what you wish for,” meaning once I do get an agent and get published, the pressure may get to me and I won’t have the freedom I once had.

And, really, as I was saying yesterday, I have the luxury of writing not being equated with money. Agents and publishers can’t say that, and when I get an agent and publisher I guess I won’t be able to say that either, but I like to think that I am the type of person to rise to the occasion.

I do know that, with or without publishing, I will continue to write and that I will continue to try to get a book published. Pig-headedness (in a nice way) is one of the secrets to my success.

Slightly incoherent musings today, I’m afraid.

What I’m Reading Today: More wonderful Ghosts of Wyoming. I’m taking my time and savoring this book.

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