Passion And Glory

*Pardon me for the late and scattered post.  I’m feeling very zombie-like and the Daylight Savings Time and snowy weather isn’t helping.  I think I make sense in the post, but if I don’t, feel free to throw things.  And meanwhile, you should also read Amanda Green’s post at MGC today.*

 

A couple of days ago my husband and I happened upon an eighties music program – shut up, wretches.  It’s great to go “remember when” – and eye of the tiger came on.

Suddenly the phrase “You trade your passion for glory” up and hit me in the eye.  It must have hit Dan at the same time – hey, we’ve been married for almost thirty years! – because he said “doesn’t that assume that everyone has passion and that what everyone wants is glory?”

Frankly, even though I’m in one of those professions where both passion and glory are supposed to be, you know, something special, I was never particularly enamored of “glory” at least insofar as it means fame.

Oh, don’t mistake me.  I’m not stupid.  I know what the alternative of fame is for a writer: I worked long enough in obscurity.  I like obscurity.  It’s nice and quiet, and I get to hide away and write all day.  On the other hand, the huge drawback is that no one knows I exist, and when they don’t know I exist, they don’t know my writing exists.

So, a certain amount of going out in public and talking, and making myself known to people follows – this blog is part of that.

On the other hand, if I were a young woman – say twenty years younger – and starting out now, I’d probably create a persona who could become famous, while I hid quietly in a corner.  Or maybe not.  What I’ve found about such personas, when I had a blog-commenting nom de plume who had her own history, birthday, etc, is that for a writer this is sort of like induced schizophrenia.  But I might at the very least have created another name, so as to give me – and the kids! – plausible deniability.  Perhaps Sarah Haute ;).

(This morning, as I was struggling with writing this blog, because I’m fighting low-level crud, I considered writing a page from the diary of my alter ego – Natalia Haute (Bosting is just a cover up, of course) – from Kate’s con books.  Something about her meeting her husband.  I’ve considered doing that, writing an episodic adventure thing, to tie in with the character she created.  Have yet to ask Kate, of course.)

Of course if I were a young woman just starting my career, I’d do a lot of things differently – but that’s a whole new blog post and maybe I ought to do it sometime, but not now.

Right now, I want to examine the whole concept of passion and the value of passion.

I was hanging around a blog the other day and people were talking about how selling out is bad, and how you should follow your passion.

I’m seeing a lot of this lately, and I think it is because for the younger generation “follow your dream” has been a shibboleth instilled since… birth?  And also because right now, all their dreams of employment are turning to nightmare.

If you’re going to be unemployed and living in your parents’ basement, then why shouldn’t you go ahead and “follow your dream” of writing games or making music?

No reason.  In fact, in my building under posts, I’ve advised cultivating more than one skill and getting proficient enough at your hobbies that they could carry you if needed.  And it would come very prettily from me to tell you “get a real job.  Give up on this art cr*p” considering I’ve been stunningly unsuccessful at any traditional career (well, I tend to leave after a year) unless you consider housewifing and mothering a career.

HOWEVER … However… there are dangers in “following your passion.”

First, let me tell you that the economic “feel” right now resembles my coming of age years.  My brother’s generation (about ten years older than I) in Portugal entered the job market in the middle of massive unemployment.  (Well, here too, now I think about, as the seventies skidded into the gutter.  Just not as bad.)

One of my brother’s friends while waiting to enter medschool (long story and it would take too much space to explain WHY he had to wait and how it related to the economy) for three years, developed a side line of drawing caricatures and cartoons.  He sold paperweights with his creations, and drew caricatures for money.

Now, I still have the paperweight he gave me (he was, like all my brother’s friends, one of my ersatz brothers – or as THEY put it, they nationalized me as “The people’s little sister.”)  It’s beautiful work, very nicely done.  And he was making, you know, not amazing money, but (while living with mom and dad) coffee and cigarette money and maybe gas money from his drawing.

Was that his passion?  I don’t know.  Young men don’t talk about that stuff with little girls.  BUT suppose it had been.  A passion and he was good at it.  Suppose even that he was here, not in Portugal.  In Portugal he could EVENTUALLY have made a grown up living out of it, but it would take decades.  Here, he probably could have got famous/wealthy much more quickly.  BUT…

But he went for the “safe” option and the traditional job, and entered medschool.  He’s now a fetal cardiologist.  He performs heart surgery on unborn babies – who would never live without his skill.

Is it his passion?  It has to be to some extent, or he wouldn’t be as good as he is at it.  On the other hand, he was very good at drawing too.  Should he have stuck to the drawing, so as not to “sell out”?  He’s not only a grown-up human being supporting himself and a family, but he’s also doing something with his life that very much needs done.

What I’m trying to say is this: too often “follow your passion” is an excuse to remain infantile.  An excuse to do things only so long as they’re pleasurable.  An excuse, in fact, not to do the hard work it takes to turn that passion into… no, not glory, that’s an adolescent fantasy – into a living or into something that is useful to anyone else.  (And I’m not going into “paying back” to society, a concept I find highly flawed, but if what you’re doing is useful, it’s usually something people would/will pay for, once you have enough credentials.)

Look, I’ve been there, I was there, sometimes I’m still there.  I was there, in the sense that when I started writing no one, not even my husband who thinks I walk on water and can make the sun come up in the morning, would have paid for my stories.  I had passion.  I was full of passion.  What I didn’t have has understanding of what other people wanted to read.

The field as it was, then, forced me to learn the rules to break in and to write so someone would publish it.  It’s not very different now, you know?  The field as is now, even if you indie publish, will force you to follow the rules to write what people will pay to read.

Is that trading in your passion?  To the extent you have to accept external influence, it is.  If you’re convinced the most important thing in the world is passion, you will never change “how I see it” so it sells.  I know at least one beginning writer like this.  His guide of what is good is “how I feel.”  That’s nice, but—

But if you do that, you’re not working.  You’re … spewing half formed stuff upon the world.  Yes, there have been cases of people “discovered” after their death (or a little before) and their stuff being declared “good all along” but if you read those people’s story, most of them had some discipline and were trying to follow some external rules even if not the rules of their time.  The ones who didn’t are more likely to be a fad that vanishes.  Also, for each one of those “discovered” hundreds if not thousands are sunk in deserved obscurity.

What I’m trying to say is that while I find arts, crafts, and various other pursuits worthwhile, admirable, and possibly capable of supporting you if you’re good enough:

a)      No one will pay for your beginner efforts.  You still need the discipline and the drive and to aim at something as you grow in your art/craft.  Pick what you consider success and allow its rules to shape your work. “Is selling” is one of the ways of defining success and aiming to make money serves b)

b)      You are not entitled to live off anyone/everyone else as you pursue your bliss/glory/mastery.  It is a romantic illusion that art can only be pursued while you sponge off other people to do it.  This is what pure art is, and therefore better.  This is largely bullpocky.  While the romantics did this, it is doubtful (as is for people like Phillip K. Dick) whether all their drug taking and absinthe drinking and Bohemian ways made their art better.  It made their life and their brains worse, so their art would probably have been better if they’d taken better care of themselves.  (We can shelve discussions of artists self-destroying.  Yes, there are reasons for the Bohemian ways and the drinking/substance abuse.  BUT it’s doubtful it produces better art.)  The artists of the Renaissance were at least as good and probably more revolutionary while living as craftsmen, in guilds and all.

To the extent my husband supported my pursuits for years, I violated b, but it’s more complex than that – I was, in those years, furnishing a home and bringing up a young family.  What I COULD have done while pursuing those other than writing was to pursue some craft, which might or might not have paid enough to justify it.  Our bet was that overtime writing would pay enough more than those crafts to justify the fallow years.  (And maybe it will.)

But more importantly, all the time I was pursuing the art with the intent to make a living.  This forced me to try to produce something of value to other people, and not just “fun for me.”  TRUST me – and if I inflicted early eructation on you, you’d so agree – this was for the best.

There is a tendency in our culture – because we are that wealthy – to devalue honest work, in favor of “art” or artistic pursuit, to the extent every young person thinks he/she has artistic talent of some sort.

The vast majority of them don’t – or don’t have the sort of strange mind it takes to succeed in an art – BUT most people can develop an ability to make or do something that will earn them a living.

So, if you’re unemployed and living in your parents’ basement, you might be the next Van Gogh, but do consider – on the say there – painting dragons or something else you can sell at SF cons, or learning to build/make something else you can sell or get a job doing… even if eventually.  Your “true art” can be pursued around that, and the discipline will do you good.

And if you can get a job doing something else during the day, again, the discipline will help.  As will (if you’re a writer) the life experience.

And if you’re in school and not sure what to get, make sure you take courses that might lead to employment.  No artist ever learned painting or writing in school – not and gone on to make a living.  So, if you want to do something artistic for a living, learn to do something “mundane” too – in the same vein or not.  It will support you one the way there, and it might give you insight into what people like.

Yes, pursue your passion, if you have one and if it’s so strong that not pursuing it is torture.  But pay your way as you go.  (And if you can’t get a job of any sort, then do something unpaid, but that other people need.  Housewiving is this – but so is volunteering in hospitals and other places like that.)

It will both make you a better artist and be easier on those around you. It will in the end make you more human.  Art – or humanity – isn’t found inside yourself.  To the extent it’s communication, it works by having others perceive it.  To communicate, you must understand other people.

In other words, working for a living isn’t selling out.  It’s another step on the way to art.

 

82 responses to “Passion And Glory

  1. Martin L. Shoemaker

    And Van Gogh — much as I love his work — is the worst possible example a young artist could follow. He died sick, lonely, miserable, unknown, and unappreciated because he embraced the Bohemian ideals. Had he found a way to support himself and spent less time drinking and wallowing in his ideals, he might have lived to produce even grander works and to be lauded while he was still alive.

    • Plus, as it is, a thought those people who look down on businessmen and the rich should consider, who are the ones who usually get the money from it once some artist gets discovered after their death? Well, with some luck it may be his family or drinking buddies if they have the temerity to hang on to those works of his they have until the price has shot up to the sky (if it will), but mostly it will be people like art collectors and sellers.

    • He was supported by his brother his entire life. To be just, unlike many artists, he was grateful for that.

    • For a better example I would look to Leonardo de Vinci.

      An interesting book:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0440508274

      On that note I need more doing and less sitting.

  2. Philip K. Dick wrote a great novel about the experience of drug-taking and bohemianism, “A Scanner Darkly,” his best novel, I think. He ends it with a long list of his friends who died young or ended up brain damaged or with ruined health, and he included himself on the list. I think he summed it up by saying something like, “Drug taking is not an illness, it is a decision, like deciding to step out in front of a moving car. We were like children playing in the street, and we kept on playing as we watched one after another of us struck down. We were really very happy for a while, but it was so briefly and when it ended, the punishment was beyond belief.”

    • Several years ago Ted Nugent had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal decrying the loss to alcohol and drugs of so many of the musicians he’d known back in the 1960s-early 1980s.

      Even as little as I care for teen heart-throbs, I’m starting to wonder how long until Justin B. gets tangled in the alcohol/drugs/self-medication trap. His recent collapses are not a good sign.

  3. Agree on all this

    Yes, wife and mother is a career, and you were not sponging off your husband. Division of labor, and all that. We need to stop this idea that worthy labor is rewarded only by money. There’s such a thing as non-monetary benefits, as I learned in my economics classes. Plus, I think successfully raising children (never mind two brilliant sons) is resume-worthy management experience. ^_^

    And it’s not mutually exclusive to have a normal job and hobbies (assuming you’ve got the time). I’m an amateur artist, I’m working at writing, but I’ve had a series of regular work jobs, usually around computers and financial calculations in one degree or another, and I think I’m always going to need to do something that uses those analytical abilities. And the art helps the job, as much as the job helps the art – even accounting and computers (I remember a quarter end at the confirmation printers squinting to make color matches between pages). My dad, before retiring, was one of the top CPA auditors in the country, but his hobby was amateur engineer/machinist (he was good enough to help an engineer friend make parts to restore a B52 bomber) – Dad said all the machining stuff was a great help to him as an auditor.

    While I agree about writing and school, art classes can be helpful – some good life drawing classes in particular. Something that gives you an assignment and a deadline. But yeah, I wouldn’t go much further than that.

    • Oh. Yes. I’ve taken art classes — I mean an art DEGREE these days is likely to be as much hindrance as help, if what I hear is right.

      • Oh, absolutely! I remember, in college, the most ignorant bigoted idiot students were the art majors. The music majors at least had to know theory, and the English majors knew literature. Art classes were all about how discipline ruined the artistic muse and other rot like that.

        • William O. B'Livion

          I went to a rather well ranked art school in Chicago during the 1990s (graduated 30+k in debt and paid it off thank you very much) and there was none of that nonsense in the art classes I took. Granted they were teaching (IMO) backwards–starting with concept and expecting you to get technique and skill as you went along rather than working form technique to concept but there was no denegration of those with talent or those who worked hard at gaining the skills.

        • William O. B'Livion

          Which isn’t to say that the students weren’t bigoted and ignorant. Most couldn’t do real math to save their lives and thought socialism was a GOOD thing.

      • depends on the college, the teachers and etc…
        often an art degree is much like an education degree, sadly… you cannot pass unless you agree with/kiss up to the established paradigm as dictated by the teachers

        • which is a good life lesson for the aspiring artist, as when you do it for a living you won’t sell anything unless your (intended) customers like it…

          And of course in the movie industry and music industry unless you bed the right people, but there’s sex-ed for that, now from kindergarten.

        • That was my experience in the few liberal arts courses I had to take in engineering school. I’d always gotten A’s in English in HS and I was very fortunate(?) to have placed out of English 101 because second semester English was a disaster! I took me the whole semester to figure out that the “instructor” didn’t want original thinking. He wanted his own views regurgitated back. At least I’d gotten an A on my first paper because it was all downhill from there but I managed to pass the class with a C average…

          • That long? I would write the first paper in high school English courses as if the teacher really meant it when asking for original thought. Then I would shovel the rest of the papers.

      • There are a couple of schools where you can get a craftsman’s education in the arts. EMU is one of them. But I found it by accident. They are valuable, to a point. My aunt is a painter and she still takes art classes, (she has been doing this for 30 years) and she makes a reasonable amount selling custom work. But… she lives in LA, and has the right friends, which ALWAYS helps– more than is “fair”.

        What a lot of people don’t seem to realize, is that a degree in fine arts can hinder you– especially where digital technology is involved. The Universities, unless world class (and sometimes even then) are always behind the times. You are better off getting an entry level job in the industry if you have skill– than wasting valuable time getting a degree. Indeed, if you like CGI there are a lot of things you can do– if you are willing to learn the technology behind web design, and a bit of PHP, Java and/or Python, you can go far. But you have to think like a technology person, an artist– and a sales person to succeed.

        Ultimately this is also true for the computer professional. The best also have to learn to sell themselves– at least to head hunters, and your ability to get another job relies entirely on who you know– and how easy you are to work with. You can be very *good*– but if you disrupt existing work patterns, you will not last long. This is true for anyone– and a fatal flaw for those with “artistic temperament”.

    • Hear! hear! raising good men (not the tyrants–but the actual meaning lol) is a full-time job.

  4. I found that the key to success (such limited amounts as I have had) lies not in “following” my passion but in directing it. Anytime I undertake a project I find some aspect of it about which to become passionate, if only the challenge of doing a task well.

    • Self discipline! Gasp, horror, swoon! How could you shackle your muse like that? (Um, let me rephrase that last bit . . .) How dare you turn away from the glories of pure art?!! *clutches bosom, feigns the vapors*

    • Wayne Blackburn

      And there, I think, is some good imagery for the issue. If you follow your passion like a little lamb following a shepherd, you may not get anywhere worthwhile, because your passion may not know where it is going. If, on the other hand, you hitch that filly up to your cart and drive, you can perhaps make it do good, even great, things.

      • “Passion” is a will-o’-the-wisp, lurking in hopes of leading you astray.

        Used to be teachers warned youth against following such phantasms, lest they be led astray into the bogs to wretchedly die.

    • was told to “follow my dream”. First dream shattered when I failed the medical to become a pilot, second shattered when I couldn’t get a job as a freshly graduated physicist, so I went into IT and started dreaming in binary 🙂

      • My dreams for becoming an opera singer shattered– and it took a few years to get to the point to decide to join the Navy– after the ASVAB I was put in electronics. I have never regretted the decision. A lot of other things have shattered in my life. But the it is what you do with the pieces that make you a better person. 😉

  5. I learned to make lace bobbins shortly after Jean learned to make bobbin lace. She has about 250 of my bobbins, from some of the beginning ones which were ok but not perfect, to the ones I used to sell by mail order for $1 to $15 each (and the only sensible way to buy them is in pairs). Unfortunately, the neuropathy I have in my arms and hands ended that. It did give me the time to work on my writing, though. Bobbin-making wasn’t something I did with passion, but for relaxation after fighting computers all day.

  6. I remember an OWS protester complaining that she couldn’t land a good job with her major and weren’t you supposed to follow your dreams? (To which I can only say, Appears your dream was a good-paying job, and you didn’t pursue it.)

    Also, a teacher’s slant on another problem with this.

    • Rob Crawford

      To quote Disney and the Sherman Bros:

      “A man has a dream, and that’s the start.
      He follows his dream with mind and heart…”

      MIND and heart. Follow your dreams, but don’t chase them off a cliff. Sometimes you have to stop and build a bridge to get to them.

    • Exactly the kind of mentality that Sarah takes a shot at. The idea common among the OWS types was that society owed them an easy life of whatever they wanted to do.

  7. Wayne Blackburn

    To paraphrase Whitey the Wino from The Warlock Wandering (because I’m not going to go look it up right now):

    “I confess. I confess to writing great literature, and even Deathless Prose on occasion. But when i do, I do it by myself, with a split of vin ordinaire for company. Because then I’m writing for me, and only me. If someone else likes it, that’s fine, but that’s not what it’s for. ‘Art for art’s sake’ is really ‘Art for the Artist’s sake’… ” …and that’s all I can remember of it. But it illustrates the “Follow your dream” notion. If you follow your dream to the exclusion of all else, then you’re probably (NOT always) going to have to be supported by someone else, because the fraction of people the products of whose dreams are marketable is incredibly low.

    On the other hand, if you want to follow your dream outside the time you normally devote to working for pay, more power to you. Likewise, if it just so happens that your dream coincides with what others will pay for, go for it.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Ok, so I hit a particular spot in the original post and jumped down here before finishing, thereby paraphrasing what Sarah said after the point where I skipped. Blah.

    • Was Warlock Wandering one of the Stasheff books? I really liked those and have wondered that he seems to have killed off Rod Gallowglass with what seems to be his book. I guess the dancing with publishers got to be too much.

      If I am wrong about the book reference, ignore all this. Even if I rightly recognized the book, if any here what aren’t Stasheff fans should also ignore this.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Yes, it was. It was when Rod and Gwen got hijacked into the past.

        I don’t remember from the descriptions if he killed off Rod, but he did kill off Gwen, causing Rod to retire, but he continued the series with the children. I have only read the first of the stories of the children, with Magnus going off to find his own way in the world.

        • Sigh. I dislike being bearer of sad tidings. The Warlock’s Last Ride(2004) concludes the histories of Rod Gallowglass. A quick check of his Wikipedia entry does not reveal any publication date later than that, nor, as I recall, did his official webpage — http://christopher.stasheff.com/, although I admit my browsing there was cursory.

          I have read several of the stories about Brom O’Berin’s grandchildren but at some point lost track of which books I had awaiting reading and which I had yet to purchase, thus put the subsidiary series aside for more leisurely days. Along with the Gar Pike series (Magnus) I recall at least two other of the kids featured in their own books.

          The only item I can find for him with a publication date after 2004 is what appears to be an introduction (2007) to a republication of the marvelous Enchanter stories of Pratt & de Camp. There seem to be fresh introductions for e-book republications and sporadic blog posts at his site.

          • Minor correction: he appears to have some new fiction copyrighted (in one instance) 2010 at the site: Stealing Time: Doc Angus & Yorick recruit agents and funding for a fledgling G.R.I.P.E.
            http://christopher.stasheff.com/fiction/DDT/gripe-stealing_time_chpt_01.htm

            Apologies to blog mistress for not asking permission for link to other writers; requesting forgiveness instead. Inquiring whether blog mistress has read Stasheff?

            • RES – He’s been one of my favorites since I first picked up The Warlock in Spite of Himself a couple plus decades ago. He did, indeed, finish off the Rod Gallowglass series with the Warlock’s Last Ride. That one also ties the Rogue Wizard and the other kids’ stories into a neat “The End”.

              He has also written a couple others – Starship Troupers (where Charles T. Barman – under the name Charles Publius – is found with a company of actors on his way to eventually land at Wolmar presumptively and it is in the same vein as the Rogue Wizard, Warlock series) as well as a two novel The Star Stone (reading next) besides his Wizard in Rhyme series (which I never really got into). I recommend him for anyone who wishes to delve into ‘revolution’ and Chaos/ Democracy/ Totalitarianism as well as history in many areas. He doesn’t go into great depth but is able to compare/contrast quite nicely. The Rogue Wizard and three Starship Troupers novels are rather formulaic, unfortunately, but still entertaining, IMHO.

              I add my apologies for touting another author on our mistress’ site 😉

              • The working out of political philosophy in the books was one of the pleasures. It would be interesting to see what someone (Sarah? Short on book ideas? Want to mine yet another author’s lode?) might do with a few novels from the perspective of Gwen Gallowglass, a woman who could have been created by Heinlein: a powerful self-sufficient woman happy to stay home and raise babes. According to his blog, the Warlock arose out of Stasheff’s own efforts to work out the political themes agitating the Sixties and Seventies.

                I have a number of his books, such as the Starship Troupers series, in the boxes somewhere and may eventually get them unpacked and read.

                I suppose after the ritual flogging of LKH and S Meyer a little praise flog does no harm.

                • Well, heck. I knew I’d gafiated a tad, but I had NO CLUE that Stasheff had ended his series. How long was this book on the shelf? Two weeks?

                  PS. If anybody’s going to Millennicon in Cincinnati next weekend, Stasheff will be there (along w Drake, Flint, and several other folks of note).

    • You and Sarah both have a point, Wayne. As in many things in this group, I’m an outlier (an Odd Odd). I began writing because I’d run out of GOOD books to read (I.E., books by my then favorite writers), so I decided to write books I’d like to read. My writing is, and always has been, mostly to help me manage my chronic pain problem, not to get rich (or even to pay the bills — my income is sufficient for MOST of it (Timmy is proving I need more!). I’m glad — ecstatic even — when someone else reads them and likes them, but that’s not the primary reason I write them.

      I’ve found several more “favorite authors” since I came here, including our esteemed hostess.

  8. OT but there’s a Pajamalanche on the way. Might be an Instalanche, too.

  9. In regards to a)

    Some people might buy your beginning works. Maybe I’m an exception. Maybe I picked the right genre at the right time and muddled through meeting some people along the way that helped get the word out.

    Don’t think I think I’m anything special, mind you. I’m certainly not, nor do I think I am. (my first book, which is my best seller, kind of makes me cringe looking back – and I’ve only been writing about a year. It literally was the first time I ever tried writing) I either got lucky, or was blessed.

    Don’t go into it assuming you won’t have some success in the beginning. You probably won’t, but you might.

    : )

  10. Has everyone forgot the old maxim: “Don’t quit your day job!” showing the requirement of having a day job?

  11. My passion had nothing to do with art. It was solving puzzles. So for nearly 50 years (yes, computers existed before the Internet), I made a very good living solving puzzles by writing computer programs. Follow your passion does work for some, just not everyone.

  12. Dorothy Grant

    If you have twenty minutes to spare, Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs) has an excellent talk about the war on work, the dangers of following your passion, classical thought… oh, and some on lamb castration.

    It dovetails very nicely with your own thoughts.

    • She was thinking about castration? I’m glad this conversation is happening over the internet instead of in person.

  13. I’m trying to picture my naive self at twenty years of age . . . having any life experiences to base writing upon. Umm, no. Probably would have been good for a laugh, though. So many misconceptions, about so many things!

  14. “The Dream is damned and Dreamer too if Dreaming’s all that Dreamers do.” – Rory Miller

    It’s easer to do with out, than put forth real effort to achieve your dream or passion.

  15. And whenever I hear that song, I overlay the lyrics to “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parody “Theme from _Rocky XIII_”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGBP55BHagA — because the fact is: That’s how the sort of people who go for glory end up. “Remember, thou art mortal.”

  16. What is the difference between an artist and a craftsmen?

    • Wayne Blackburn

      If you’re looking for a more serious answer, I’ll give it a shot, and other people will undoubtedly tell me I’m full of it (I am, it’s true. So much that my eyes are brown 🙂 ).

      First of all, a person can be both, and in fact, a true artist should be a craftsman as well. The craftsman is one who has learned how to apply teachable techniques to produce something which is within a fairly narrow range of something else that has been done before. The artist, while it behooves him to learn the techniques in order to make his art more polished and even, perhaps, easier for him to complete, does something more. The artist either creates new things, or adds something to the working of something that is not new, which makes it have more depth or greater impact than the craftsman who is not also an artist.

      Thus, a craftsman can create a copy of the Mona Lisa, and do a very good job, but it took an artist to create it in the first place. A craftsman can write, but their work will be derivative of other work, unless they have the spark of the artist.

      • I asked the question to get people to think about the difference.

        I’ll give my answer now.

        Any one can call themselves an Artist, but a craftsmen must earn his title.

      • While I think I know what you are trying to say, Wayne, since you’ve turned “craftsman” into a dimunitive of artist, I am going to reject your definition.

    • But if you want a one word serious answer: utility

  17. I’d just like to add that finding a job in which you can exercise your passion will be the acid test of whether or not you have an actual vocation. Can you write poetry all night when you’ve been copywritng all day? Turned out I could, but this doesn’t apply to many people, apparently.

    • Copywriting, while not as close to writing poetry as, say, teaching poetry writing, still is awfully close.

      Some writers have managed to have word-related jobs and not found it a problem. Gene Wolfe worked for a magazine about manufacturing plants as a contributing editor. But on the whole, most writers are probably best off seeking employment in a field with as little wordsmithing as possible, so they can save it for the writing time.

  18. Ran accross this quote:

      “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

    ― Thomas A. Edison