It is a late hour, or, rather, an early one. But then it’s possible that the hour I am writing this post matters very little to you. Nevertheless, I announce my temporal bearings not to recuse myself, but to put this post into some kind of perspective. I am now pondering a future without the delightful band, Blah Blah Blah, who recently announced on their MySpace page that they had given up. I’m saddened by this news. I am now very worried about all the other artists out there who are now considering giving it all up. I am concerned about a world in which anyone who beats their drum just a tad too fast or plucks their guitar just a tad too originally for the marketing people to understand throws in the towel.
Well, I am urging you not to give it up. Yes, times are tough for all of us. But it is very important for you to go on. To work in some form. Even without compensation, if that’s all there is for a time. Even if you only half understand what it is you’re all about. Even if you’re not quite sure what your work amounts to. Even if nobody gives a good goddam about how hard you’ve toiled over your sentences, or how difficult it was for you to insert that subtle chord change in that song you uploaded somewhere that only five of your friends listened to. All this is work. It’s supposed to be difficult. But it becomes even more difficult once you realize you’re living in a society hostile to nearly anybody who decides to live this kind of life.
Being an “overnight success” is a myth. The ones who made it did so because they were stubborn, hopelessly devoted to what they could offer the world. They carried on and became better at their craft. Some of them didn’t even know it. Most of them were misunderstood.
Understand that I am not advocating mediocrity. I am merely telling the truth. The market is not interested in taking chances on anyone who deviates from the formula. The market is hedging bets with the veterans, no matter if they are washed up. There are a few coins to be loosened from the sofa, but it takes some skill to survive on those coins. The true artists will find a way to carry on, because that is what they are and that is what they’ve been reduced to. This is the unwavering itching at the bottom of the artistic soul. Scratch it at your own peril. You’ll know if you can’t stop scratching. And if you have even a scant success, you’ll certainly appreciate it more than the dilettantes.
And some of us give up because we finally recognise how little our work actually amounts to.