My parents drilled a mantra into me:
First things first.
It tells the important difference between essential and precedential.
“You may have a snack, after your bed is made.” Eating is essential but it’s not precedential. “You may play outside, after you finish your homework.” Plodding up and down the neighborhood ‘ditch’ was crux to my day, but it wasn’t a first thing.
This repeated mentality shaped me as I grew, rehabilitating an instant gratification mindset that rules many because of technology, individualism America, and entitlement culture that has grown. It also raises awareness of a subtlety that puts the spheres of life in their proper orbit.
What precedential task needs to be done, so that you can create, do, be what is essential? While I readily support having a “drop out of college for this” moment, I am strung to a belief in education and career’s merit in today’s world. These become linked to a creative’s journey.
There are three options for an artist needing to serve his credit alongside his art:
- Get a second job
- Find a patron supporter
- Monetize your work
Commercializing my art has never appealed to me, so I’m left with side hustles and supportive households. These become precedential to our essential work. Logs that stoke the fire. It’s a balancing act, trying to do work to fuel your work..
Money is the means for making art, but it must never become the master.Jeff Goins in his guidebook, Real Artists Don’t Starve.
Our art is so essential to our being. But at the same time, every artist must fight for the margin (just enough) to create. Finding the middle ground is where long-term, fulfilled artistry thrives.