Art is not a commodity to be capitalized, as DWYL might suggest, but a life that has to be lived.

via Should You Really Make Your Passion Your Job? – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society.

I can see both sides of this debate. Artists should be acknowledged as professionals with a valuable talent and compensated for their contribution to society just like anyone else. Because art is valuable to society.

However, I don’t personally feel that my “success” as a playwright, for example, should be determined by much money I’ve made because that’s not what motivates my work. I get it – there’s not a big market for new original scripts. But I am going to continue to construct plays because that is who I am. I am a person who processes my life’s experience in the form of theatre. The fact that I’ve chosen a life in Scranton may ultimately make my writing more unique, more universal, or at least less compromised. Don’t I want to share it with as many people as possible? Well yeah, but it’s not all about numbers. I don’t need a stamp of approval from someone with an opinion who other people have decided must be important.

Had it not been for my children, I probably would have focused my career more sharply on making plays. But fortunately I was given the opportunity to raise children and resort to a more reliable income in order to support them. This has given me a broader experience of life and its diverse struggles and complications than had I been able to isolate myself in the academic and artistic hierarchies that support playwriting as a profession. (Of course most of those writers are working in film and television to support their theatre habits, so perhaps there is no purity.)

What I do want is to keep getting better. To not give up no matter how impossible it seems to get my work staged the way I see it in my mind. I want to keep writing until I’m so old and impaired someone has to help me. And I want to keep believing that even if my contribution matters or makes a difference to only one person that it will have played its part and been worth it.

-ag

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