From the Editor’s Perch…

Editor:  Certainly there is a lot more that could be said, but sometimes I just get the urge to whine.

HOmeless1

Why Being Creative May Not Serve You Well

 

In a cartoon by playwright/cartoonist Mark Krause ( http://markrause.com/category/10000p/ ) a practical character asks the ‘creative’ playwright character why they don’t bring all the creativity they use in their playwrighting to advance their life, and to make money?

Indeed!  Why isn’t every poor artist using their superior creativity to better their lot?

Well, with age I’ve learned that there are often, if not ‘good’ reasons for things being as they are, there are at least significant reasons for things as they are.

Usually, the urging to be creative comes from the media gurus and not our workplace.  In fact, it seems the media gurus are pitching their advice as a corrective to the workplace, to fight ‘business as usual’.  Just as the Lord, in driving Jonah onto the boat, prevented fishing as usual.

homeless2

Creative people are seen as a Jonah to practical endeavor – that is, making money.

Why?

Well, gaze across an artist’s life and maybe get an inkling.

The word ‘success’ is derived from root words which mean outcome or result.  Most people are practical and want results.  They seek an outcome.  Artists generally want an epiphany.

I remember watching the Olympics one year and listening to the story of a swimmer who missed being on the past Olympic team by four tenths of a second.  So he trained for another four years shaving off those four tenths of a second and made his Olympic team.  His feat was celebrated world-wide.  This is how practical people are.  This is how they think.  This is what they admire.  A great compliment among practical people is to be called a ‘machine’.  In David Mamet’s play, Glengarry Glenn Ross, Shelly, the Machine, Levine is the top salesman.  Nothing stops his production.  Shelly Levine is successful.  Success is the practical person’s epiphany.

 

For all of the contracts, legalisms and paperwork involved, the basis for nearly all living is trust.

We trust that the sun will come up tomorrow.  We trust that the money we have saved will be there tomorrow.  We trust that our husband/wife will be there tomorrow.  We trust that we will be here tomorrow.  We trust that we’ve learned enough to try what we attempt.  We trust our family.  We trust our friends.  And trust is not established immediately.  Trust is a commodity earned over time through repetitive, consistent behavior.  A good worker earns our trust.  A good dog earns our trust.  A good car earns our trust.  A tried and true method gains our trust. Good artists work repetitively and consistently, but their behavior is anything but.  And whereas they might be honest as the day is long, their behavior and speech and actions are often unpredictable.  Even the quality of their output is unpredictable.  Artists generate distrust.

 

Artists often make the mistake of thinking that once they are successful, they will be respected by their practical relations, friends and acquaintances; as they imagine that success must be the coin of the realm for practical people.  But that’s not quite it.  According to Wikipedia, It takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make our first impression…”  Then, of course it only takes another one-tenth of a second for us to form our second impression, and so forth…   Hence, the birth of the ‘elevator pitch’.  That is, it has been said that in the business world, in order to attract a person’s attention and backing, you must be able to condense who you are and what it is you do (and include direct benefits to them!) into a pitch that you can give your fellow passenger in the time it takes an elevator to travel from the lobby to whatever floor your acquaintance is headed.  Now imagine an artist delivering such a pitch.  Does building security enter the picture?

Even quite successful creative types have harbored this dream of achieving general acceptance and respect and have been dismayed.  Saul Bellow watched his sister sleep through his Nobel speech.  The great American poet Wallace Stevens hid his poet’s identity throughout his career as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Conneticut.  Blind Lemon Jefferson froze to death on the streets of Chicago.  “Douglas Engelbart set the computer world on fire in December 1968.  Standing in a San Francisco conference hall filled with the nation’s top computer experts…  Engelbart demonstrated such innovations as word processing, video conferencing, and desktop windows – 13 years before the debut of the first IBM personal computer.  He also showed how a mouse, which he’d invented four years earlier, could be used to control a computer.  … In one hour, he defined the era of modern computing.” (“The Week” 7.19.13)   “He never became rich or a household name… and in later years struggled to get funding for his research.”

Artists do not reach unknown ends by using trusted routes.  Artists run on faithArtists like trying things.  Practical people like succeeding at things more.  Practical people try things when the method tried has been shown to work.  Artists evade this dictum because where you go determines where you end up, and artists are “epiphany junkies”.  They want to go somewhere new.

The bad news is that success is payment for consistent, bankable results.  So, a livelihood, comraderie and respect are often part of the artist’s elusive dream.  Creativity will probably always have an air of desperation about it.  And people will probably always shun the creative individual.

homeless3

Photos taken  from Google Image

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One Response to “From the Editor’s Perch…”

  1. Fish Clamor Says:

    I missed this somehow! I am working on a reply! My name is
    Something Spanish which i forgot but i am played by mandy patinkin and I am holding a sword in the princess bride! Prepare to die!!!

    –starving fish seeking new epiphanies every second if every day.:)

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