At Least I’m Not a Dancer

October 22, 2008

I feel lately like I’ve been hitting the wall with my “writing” “career,” and from what I’ve seen of the seemy underbelly of the publishing industry lately even the thought of writing, much less trying to get published, makes me ill.  Writing is fine but “being a writer” is sort of like being a whore but for less money.  And everybody thinks they’re a better whore than you, and they’re probably right.

This is not a solicitation for “oh noes don’t stop writing” comments but a serious issue, here: is it possible in 2008 for a person working in a creative field to NOT specialize?  I am wondering this because my full tear through several arts fields (music, theater, writing, art) has left me going in all sorts of directions at once.  I used to be proud that I wasn’t a specialist but now I’m in my thirties and mostly I want to take naps and make (visual) art and that’s it.  Two exchanges also stick in my mind:

1994: My high school chemistry teacher asked me what creative field I was going to pursue and when I said “all of them” he advised me that I was setting myself up for disappointment.

2006: A friend from CalArts posed the question: “If you had to stop either writing or taking photographs, which would you stop?” and I said, without hesitating, “writing.  I would stop writing.”  My friend seemed shocked by this; she also does both but had the opposite answer.   To her mind, writing was/is more intimate and expressive, but maybe that’s why my decision was unblinking in the first place.

But I’m thinking that taking a break from writing now means what little window of opportunity I might have will evaporate completely.  Though that window is closing a little faster every day, while I still feel like I can be a photographer and not make work for a six month stretch (heh) and pick it up again.

On the other hand, I still think my 1994 self has the right idea (I wish I had his energy). 



4 Responses to “At Least I’m Not a Dancer”

  1. Being a dancer doesn’t seem like a bad prospect at this point. It’s a smaller art pond, and I would probably get laid with less effort.

    Writing to me has always seemed like a athletics, in that you constantly have to work at it to be any good. Art (especially CalArts art) isn’t so reliant on skill, so if I set it aside for a while (like I did in the past) it seemed fairly easy to make something relevant when you jump back in.

    I too feel confounded by the multiple possibilities, and stuck.

    I like that writing can be broken off in little bits, and eventually it amounts to something, without the expense of art supplies.

  2. Will Says:

    I remember your 1994 self, and I wouldn’t take Mr. H too literally.

    I’ve had the same problem with wanting to read and learn about
    everything, and I still have that desire. Lately it’s more about
    enjoying the process instead of aiming for some benchmark,
    because once you achieve that benchmark you just set a new one.

    As a fellow nap enthusiast, I think the only
    important thing is to care about what you’re doing at the time,
    without worrying too much about the outcome/impact/”opportunity”.

    On the other hand, a mixed-media show grouping similar
    statements in different formats would be really interesting.
    Just do what’s livable for you. “The most important relationship
    you can build in life is the relationship that you build with your
    gut, with your intuition.” -Saul Williams, my personal source
    of inspiration/guilt at not writing more.

  3. Hmm. Well, Nick, if I hadn’t known you in the 90’s, I would just say that you’re having a midlife crisis. But in that case you’d be dead with 40…

    But the fact of the matter is that there are sometimes things that are simply not photographable just as there are things that aren’t danceable. Remember Carolee Schneemann’s “Body Scrolls”? The first part of the text that she read was “I am not a dancer.”

    Anyway, maybe the best thing for you to do is to take a vacation. Come visit me in Germany next spring or in France this January – I have a spare room…


  4. Another thing: Dancers get funded.

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