Look, we all know the statistics, right? We know that the chances are we will never make it, we most likely will not ever be the breakout. The success stories are the exception, not the rule. Sometimes this is written as a cautionary message; manage your expectations, don’t get your hopes up, believe in success, prepare for failure. Don’t, in other words, quit your day job. This is sometimes presented as a reason to not even pursue a dream; you can’t make money in music, in art, in writing; you can’t earn a living as a comedian or an actor. Being on stage is cute when you’re a kid, but make sure to finish your MBA while you’re doing it. You can’t just play make-believe for the rest of your life.
This is true. You might not make money, you may never be able to quit your terrible job, you may find yourself on the wrong side of forty with some scars and some tattoos and eighteen dollars in the bank hoping that the rent check doesn’t get cashed until Friday when you get your paycheck. You might find yourself at a desk with a nagging ganglion cyst in your wrist, a failing back and a gross pudgy dadbod. You catch a look in the mirror as you get out of the shower and understand why your significant other just doesn’t seem to be as into you as he or she used to be. You walk out into the living room and you say look I get it, I wouldn’t be taking this decrepit piece of meat for a ride either. God bless you for not just cutting your losses, you champion, you saint. I get it believe me.
This can happen, and has happened to people more talented more driven more disciplined. It might be that the people that you hold in such esteem, the example of modest artistic success feel the exact same way, while you enjoy the work, they consider themselves failures, believe themselves to be losers and wastes. This is especially true in the indie DIY world, that of freelancers and punks, and micropresses and underground heroes. What does it mean to be a successful punk? You didn’t die? What does it mean to be a successful indie novelist? Someone that isn’t related to you actually bought a book? What does it mean to be successful at all?
The smart money is in software development, in engineering. Smart people get into finance or business or automation. But I was never smart, never listened, bit every hand that tried to feed me. Maybe, since we know that it is nearly impossible, we shouldn’t try at all.
There exists in all of us a voice, a nagging little bastard of a voice that whispers to us, whispers terrible lies, that makes us feel like we are nothing, less than nothing, that makes us feel isolated, that tells us that we are alone. My words, even these ones, always suck, are never good enough for people to read, my book is trash, nobody wants my stuff. Your songs are stupid, your art is ugly, and you will die unnoticed and alone. That voice tells us all of our fears pushes all our buttons, peels off every scab. It knows everything, every scar, every open sore, because it is us, too.
Ill tell you this:
Art exists for itself. My book exists because I made it exist, with help from people who share my delusion, through will and talent and occasional bouts of discipline and focus. Your songs exist because you made them exist, and they will remain. This world is circling the drain, it is only a matter of time until someone blasts us all to hell, it is only a matter of time until the people in charge decide that we are surplus to needs, that they don’t need us to clean their toilets or pump their gas or grow their food, and they let us all die from starvation or exposure or plague. We are clinging to a dying world and everything you do to make someone feel less alone is worth it, even if you have carpal tunnel, and it hurts, physically hurts, to make art, even if you think that nothing you have done matters, it does. It matters, and it is worth it, even if you can’t see it, it matters.
So tell your creators. Tweet at them, tell them that the new album is rad as hell, tell them that the thing they wrote years ago means a lot to you, tell them that the stuff they made got you through a tough spot, that what they did matters.
Because it does matter, it always has.
You can tell ME, if you feel so inclined. Comment here or tweet at me @RDPullins, or on Facebook, I suppose. Email me if you feel compelled to dissent.within@gmaildotcom Thanks for reading this trash, even though I suck. 😉