Monday, October 20, 2008

The Art (Of Writing) For Art's Sake?

On last week's Cult of Gracie, part of the discussion returned to the issue of the value of writing, especially of adult writing on human sexuality. The lovely Rebecca sent a follow-up email about the talk:
Thanks for having me on the show last night and letting me stay and chat. That was so awesome. Pete listened to it as well, and here are some of our thoughts on writing for creativity vs writing to eat.

In no way am I a writer, so lets get that's straight. But I do consider myself an artist, and I live with an artist, so that's the perspective I am coming from.

Writing is an art form itself and is a creative field. And like most artistic ventures, the people that can support themselves strictly on their artistic vision is .5%. That means that 99.5% of people in that field make no money or not enough money to support themselves.

I think it has more to do with this, than it does the fact that it is the sex industry. Even in mainstream, the majority of writers, poets and painters cannot survive on their vision. And of the .5% that do, most of those people are financially able to carry themselves, but are in no way wealthy.

There are many people that tackle this by writing for commission, and leaving free time to write their passion. For those people, it can work great. Taking the financial stress off the table then allows them to write with clarity, not having to worry about paying the bills and having that interfere with their vision. They may not love the commission work, but it gets them by and relieves the pressure.

For those that choose the road of creating just their vision find that it is easier said than done. Sooner or later, life creeps in, and you find yourself creating for the market and losing the vision you originally set out to explore. How can this not happen? The artist who paints still lifes finds his still lifes with cats are a big hit. Being excited that people respond, he/she creates more paintings with cats. How soon until he loses site of his still lifes and finds himself just painting cats? The odd thing is that once he goes down that road, the cat paintings stop selling. He began to create for the marketplace, and his work lost the honesty and feeling behind it that people were connecting with.

This happens more often when financial milsetones are the road you are following. Money has a great way of pushing our heads in a different direction. To stay on the "honest" path, the milestones can't be financial, but "Is my message being heard?". You then have to trust that
financial gain will follow.

Remember too, that most great works of art were commissions, created within the confines of someone else. Michealangelo did not want to paint the Sistine Chapel. It wasn't his vision, but he needed to create it in order to get the jobs that were to come after. Within the confines of the commission, he was still able to use his talents and create a masterpiece. That I think is the realistic balance. Creating a masterpiece wherever you may be.

And the struggle itself is beautiful and is what I think keeps you honest. Without the struggle, you lose your passion.

I do think that much of the work I see from writers such as yourselves, as well as some erotic photographers is beginning to create new genres of intelligent erotica, intelligent porn and smarter content. I know people have been talking about it and working towards it, and I think it is beginning to grab hold.

Will it happen soon enough for everyone to capitalize on it? Maybe not, but that's the chance (and reward) you take when you attempt to break new ground. At the very least, instead of walking the beaten path, you are walking where there is no path, and leaving a trail.

Rebecca & Pete
I think there are more than a few solid gold points in here about supply & demand, art, and purpose. Add this to my talk about the value of writing (especially on the Internet) and then hit us with your thoughts!


Shon Richards said...

What she said :)

C.M. Bailey said...

I have to think that "instead of walking the beaten path, you are walking where there is no path, and leaving a trail" is the very best chance one has of receiving financial rewards for artistic work.

I must thank Rebecca & Pete for making the point so eloquently.