My last post talked essentially about the importance of selling out, slightly tongue in cheek, but still solid advice. This time I’m gonna throw all that out the window.
I recently picked up the must-read book If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland. I recommend it to anyone who works creatively. The main theme of the book is “everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” Which I completely agree with. Interestingly she says the ones without anything to say are the ones to whom writing comes easily. Because they just blurt out without investing anything into it. Remember – if it’s hard, you’re probably doing it right!
Ueland says it better than I do, so lets jump right into her words:
“It is our nasty twentieth-century materialism that makes us feel: what is the use of writing, painting, etc., unless one has an audience or gets cash for it? Socrates and the men of the Renaissance did so much because the rewards were intrinsic, i.e., the enlargement of the soul.”
“Yes we are all thoroughly materialistic about such things. ‘What’s the use?’ we say, of doing anything unless you make money or get applause? for when a man is dead, he is dead.’ Socrates and the Greeks decided that a man’s life should be devoted to ‘the tendance of the Soul’ (Soul included intelligence, imagination, spirit, understanding, personality) for the soul lived eternally, in all probability.”
“I think it is all right to work for money, to work to have things enjoyed by people, even very limited ones; but the mistake is to feel that the work, the effort, the search is not the important and the exciting thing. One cannot strive to write a cheap, popular story without learning moe about cheapness.”
During his life, van Gough made a total of 109 dollars from all his paintings, yet his art transcends time because this is a man that believed “The world only concerns me in so far as I feel a certain debt and duty towards it and out of gratitude want to leave some souvenir in the shape of drawings or pictures – not made to please a certain tendency in art, but to express sincere human feeling.”
Ueland goes on to say that if you write with “real love and imagination and intelligence” you may very well become famous and make a ton of money, BUT “if nothing is ever published at all and you never make a cent, just the same it will be good that you have worked.”
The reason I made this a part two is that I love the contradiction of working in Hollywood, where everything is about money and fame, while trying to make honest, transparent art that reveals beauty. I believe the two CAN co-exist (though they rarely do) and this is my goal.