A Time and a Season
My mom used to quote that scripture about there being a time and a season for everything. Or she could have just been quoting 'the Zombies' - she appreciated both sources of inspiration. In any case, I grew up believing that we aren't meant to have everything in life all at once. We take happiness and fulfilment and sorrow and struggle in turns. And often times you are swimming along like a champ in one area, and sinking like a big old rock in another. Life is never straight up feast or famine. And the seasons overlap.
I went to a group of writers and illustrators on facebook this past week and asked what turned out to be a hot button question. Can creative people, like ourselves, make arrangements with each other to swap work when we don't have the money to buy such services? I scratch your back, you scratch mine, and in this case 'scratching' could be anything from help designing business cards to editing copy. I fill in the gaps where I'm strong and you're weak, and visa versa. It turns out that I am either a perfectly reasonable person...or I am Lord Voldemort. Some people were eager to explore the options in a rapidly transforming industry. Others figured I was sent to ruin the world as we know it...aka the establishment. I apologize for questioning the workings of traditional publishing...to the 0.05% of the writers and illustrators out there who are actually being published.
Gasp! Yes, I said it.
There has always been a huge divide in the past between those who are succeeding and those who are not. You either had it all or you had nothing. And you only had it all if you were somehow discovered and chosen by the creative powers that be - because you, yourself, were powerless.
Just look at the tv industry. Back in the caveman days, when there were only a handful of networks, a show had to attract a hundred million viewers to stay on the air. At any given time, my family had three shows to choose from. Three! Now, when audiences are divided between 500 shows at a time, not to mention what's available to watch online, a program is lucky to get a million viewers. It's the opportunity every 'little guy' has been waiting for because there is technology to create without capital, space to create at will, and a niche for everything and everyone.
So should we still think of each other as competition? Should we be so guarded and isolated that we can't fully utilize our seasons of give and take?
I would HATE to get to a point where some unknown person asks my advice or help and I'm all like "Dude, that's so not worth my time".
I hate to think of the opportunities I would have lost had I been too cautious to jump into creative projects masterminded by friends or family because I was concerned that my work would be undervalued. I have something to give. And I'm not going to let it collect dust while I wait around for a big contract.
So this is the point of my soapbox rant:
Know the value of your work. But don't be afraid to invest your talents in the community and in other individuals. Don't measure 'return' in dollars alone. Take when you have to and give when you can.
And whether you're rising, falling, sinking or swimming,
looking for answers, or pulling solutions out of the air,
...enjoy the season.
Because it will change.