I can understand why so many artists and writers throughout history have been alcoholics, drug addicts or mentally ill in some way or another. It seems that artistic temperament is important for the creative muse but it’s also very destructive for the soul.
I was pondering this the other day as I received my first cheque and first payment through PayPal from editors since coming back to the UK. I was giddy with excitement, quite honestly! The amounts weren’t much – for one short article and short story – but they made it real that I’m writing in the UK and not just in Bangladesh any longer. I couldn’t have been any more pleased if the cheque had been a million pound advance from a publisher! I went around
boring telling people about it all day.
Furthermore, out of the blue I received several requests for work from editors which was nice and one of them, on receipt of a short story, said it was ‘fantastic’. Well – I can live with comments like that!
There is the flip-side however. When you’re waiting for that email from an editor after a pitch you really want to write. When the article you crafted so carefully just doesn’t ‘cut muster’ and needs completely re-writing again. Or when, as just has happened to me, your short story doesn’t get short-listed in a competition with over 300 entries – you know that statistically the odds were against you and it was nothing personal, but you just can’t help but feel deflated.
All these things, no matter that they are part of the warp and woof of the writer’s life, are still crushing. No wonder so many writers never get that first novel finished (he says, knowing he’s still editing his own) or never make a living from writing because they dare not send the pitch to an editor. If you receive rejection after rejection, it’s got to hurt.
So far, in my fledgling career, I’ve been well blessed in that the ratio of acceptances to rejections have been in favour of the former and I’ve now officially lost track of how many times I’ve had an article, guest blog post or short story published. I keep forgetting which countries I’ve been published in too!
All good stuff and it bodes well for this coming year in terms of making a full-time wage to accompany the (more than) full-time hours I’m putting in.
But I’m still miffed that short story didn’t get through. Damn it.
After drafting this, one of my editors wrote and told me a she’d finished editing a story of mine and it had 18 errors in it! I was horrified and wrote back apologising for my inexcusable lapse in professionalism. He wrote back and said “Only kidding – it was great!” before adding he was now going back to ‘completely re-writing’ some of the other pieces he’d received for the same magazine. -_-
3 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of an Artistic Temperament”
You’re not COMPLETELY writing against that quote I posted… your post is more about the struggles of a writer. You’re truly an inspiration Ken. Reading about your progress shows that life as a writer is difficult but not at all impossible.
Thanks Norah – yes the quote you refer to was rather anti the idea of artistic temperament at all whereas I think I was just musing on the fact so many writers seem to have it anyway and understanding why that might be!
I’m certainly someone who takes unfair criticism personally and that’s not the best thing to have as a writer! But you have to develop the thick skin and just be prepared that rejection is part of life.
I’m glad you find my progress inspiring Norah – that encourages me too! I can honestly say that I don’t regret going full-time and can recommend it to anyone of at least ‘reasonably’ sane mind… 🙂
That’s the dream for many of us of course… someday hopefully!