Say Goodbye to the Starving Artist Mentality

Author:
Publish date:
Image placeholder title

Last week, Robert Brewer was competing for 2010
Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere
.

(Robert is editor of
Writer's Market, Poet's Market, and runs the very popular Poem-a-Day
challenge
in April.)

As the final hours of voting ticked by, he
and another poet were in a dead heat for the win. It's one of those
moments when you wonder if it's appropriate to call grade-school friends
to go and vote.

You might wonder why I cared so much.

Robert is one of the most generous and good-natured people I
know, and he's not only an invaluable contributor to Writer's
Digest, but he's a beacon of inspiration and encouragement to poets in
the online writing community.

So, I wanted to see his efforts
publicly recognized and rewarded.

In those final hours, something
remarkable happened.

The CEO of F+W sent a late-night e-mail to
all employees, asking them to support Robert's run for poet laureate of the blogosphere.

That
last-minute call ultimately put Robert over the top, though the
competition had become so contentious by that point the contest
organizer decided to call a tie
.

It was a bittersweet end.
Robert's affiliation with Writer's Digest had been used as a black mark
against him, since he works for a business. In other words, because there is a
commercial interest supporting him, the company that benefits from
his presence should not support him because that's unfair.

Two thoughts I have on this:

  1. Robert is a passionate poet, and he is passionate about helping other poets. That's a constant no matter who employs him. In the
    U.S., we have a bad habit of assuming people are their titles. (Go read
    THIS post.
    ) Robert is not his title; he is not his employer. He is
    Robert.
  2. There's an implicit judgment that poets (or artists)
    who are "starving" are more authentic and deserving than those who aren't struggling. (Go read Dana Gioia's take on this.)

Christina Katz
and I discussed this phenomenon when we attended AWP a couple years ago:
the persistent myth of the starving artist, or that real writers
eschew commercial concerns and are ill-suited for the workplace.

Christina
responded by pitching a session for 2010 (that was accepted) on The
Prosperous Writer.

It is her mission (as well as mine) to do
battle with this idea that artistry/creativity
cannot be mixed with business.

Here's a post that has an
interesting slant on this: "The corporation strikes back."

And
another interesting interview comes to mind, with the Whole
Foods CEO, which was featured in the New Yorker. Here's a small snippet:

Mackey is
adamant, and not merely unapologetic, that his company—any company—can
and should pursue profits and a higher purpose simultaneously, and that
in fact the pursuit of both enhances the pursuit of each.

Read
more at The New Yorker site.

incite_vs_insight_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Cleland_1:17

Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!

20_most_popular_writing_posts_of_2020_robert_lee_brewer

20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.

Malden_1:16

Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.

writing_mistakes_writers_make_talking_about_the_work_in_progress_robert_lee_brewer

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.

Kelly_1:15

Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.

capital_vs_capitol_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.