Starving Artist Syndrome

Last week, I found myself at an office in Chaguanas doing embroidery on polo shirts for food. I had a rehearsal for a play in the evening, and a poetry show to organize for next month. I still have two articles to send in for an online magazine (that I haven’t even started yet, mind you), and an idea for a mixtape, a play, a webseries and a short film juggling in my head.

But I’m in an office doing embroidery for food.

I am not at all saying that all artists have this concern. I mean, musicians have good money in my opinion, and some actors have a pretty easy time or team up with friends to work as a group. But me, as a Spoken Word poet and quite the struggling writer, just don’t find the kind of breaks that those guys have. Not to mention I’m trying the acting thing as well, in a place where there aren’t a great deal of opportunities flying around the place.

And we all know what that means – hush yuh mout’ and hold a 9 to 5 like a human being. All that artsy stuff could wait for weekends, right? What’s important is that you have the stability to make a life and eventually achieve what you want, as long as you manage to get what’s important.

Most guys think that this is depressing for an artist to have to sit on the thing that they want to do. But now, I don’t see a problem with it.

I see the value in being able to better invest in yourself. The miraculous Job of Destiny isn’t something that falls in your lap. It’s something that you work for, and more importantly you create an atmosphere in your life that can sustain that sort of existence in it. I am actually excited to get a real job (if ever I actually do), because that means I have a greater control over what I can do, get and place myself in order to get the greater things that I desire.

More importantly, there are so many experiences that creative types rob themselves of when they remove themselves from the life of regular human beings. The real stories come from a frantic weekend night in an internet cafe with a bunch of grown men playing World of Warcraft, or in the morning commute, or with a friend in the dead of night drinking Coke to stay awake just to embroid the next 50 jerseys…twice. Sometimes the commonplace is the extraordinary, when you ask yourself how a normal man can do this every day, and push yourself to understand how you can do it today.

And I can’t truly complain at any rate. I got food. At the end of the day, just like I want my art to live, I wanna live to. And we make sacrifices for both of those things to happen in the ways we want them to. My art lives with me, whenever I perform at an open mic, write on paper, get asked to perform spontaneously or sometimes just sharing work and ideas with friends. And I need to ensure that I still have the ability to feed those parts of me. Getting a job that fulfills me in other ways but is still something that I can imagine myself doing can only be a help to me. And I’m looking for that just as much as I’m looking for a chance to  perform.

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