Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Write-Camp Presentation Idea #1 : Sustainable Artistry

A lot of writers and artists struggle with the question of whether they should quit and go full time with pursuits that they are passionate about. Understandably, that is a challenge in Singapore because inevitably, you will find yourself discouraged by your well-meaning friends and family.

A very tempting option would be to simply ask the artist the question to live his dreams. An artist should follow his passions and somehow things will just itself out. This can make the guru a lot of money, just come up with books like The Secret or The Alchemist and you can live live happily ever after. Your victims will be your readers who actually buy into your ideas.

The logical flaw in such books is that it indulges in the fantasy and fallacy of wishful thinking. That the environment will change just because you engage in positive thinking.

But for the folks attending Write-Camp,there's yet another problem, we live in Singapore. Where artists seldom even get paid by the folks who commission their work. Asian societies are different from Western societies because we're built to be more interdependent.

When you embark on an artistic lifestyle, you are expecting someone else to take up the slack in looking your family. So it's not just about living a non-conformist lifestyle. It's no surprise many artists wind up looking like self-indulgent, narcissistic dicks who can't live up to society's expectations.

I think too often we're stuck in bipolar thinking. Either be an artist, and live a life where you can't even afford to pay for plate of duck rice, or spend the rest of your life working for the Man and being a conformist corporate robot.

The first part of my speech is about the third option :

a) You do the bare minimum to sustain yourself. Perhaps holding a job part-time or working harder to generate passive income. You do just enough by being frugal and fed.
b) Once you can sustain yourself and can look normal to the rest of society, you start building an artistic platform where you can FAIL FAST AND FAIL OFTEN.
c) Keep trying until you succeed.

Artistic endeavours is a challenge in Singapore. It's easier to simply assume that you will fail but success can come to the person who fails the most often and picks himself up to try again.

In the worse case, you can always come back and be a robot.

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