The writer writes because he/she is compelled to. Just as the painter is compelled to paint, the sculptor to sculpt, the actor to act. The fact is most artists, with the exception of a few—Hirst, JKR, Liam Neeson, find it difficult to make ends meet. We don’t begrudge the high earners their success—they too will have suffered and made sacrifices, we are inspired by it, but the fact remains, creating art does not provide a steady income. Most artists, be they writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, actors, have to work day jobs to subsidise their income, or simply go without…holidays, clothes, new cars… Actors, who we might applaud in the theatre or recognise in the odd TV drama, whilst “resting” in between roles are often to be found working at not very glamorous jobs in order to be able to make themselves available when a part becomes available.
It is the artist’s choice then, some would say. They are choosing to “suffer for their art”. Some might say an artist has to suffer to in order to create great art, that suffering enhances creativity, take the work of Van Cough, the seemingly tortured paintings of Goya, the music of Ella Fitzgerald.
Going without is not so much an option, of course, for the artist who has family/children dependent on them, which leads me to my topic. Peel back the layers and look at most “creative” individuals trying to promote themselves via the media or social forums on the Internet and you will find…a person! If you get to know that person a little better, read between the lines, if you will, you will begin to realise that the person has suffered in some way, grown from that suffering, very probably, finding in themselves exceptional qualities to cope, perhaps with loss, poverty, depravation, oppression, bullying. Often calling on hidden strengths and giving of unremitting love and dedication to support ailing parents, spouses, special children.
As human beings we cannot fail to feel for the casualties of the terrible dual tragedy in Japan, the oppressed people of Libya, the victims of the floods in India…so many world tragedies. Compassion unites us as people, or it should. We have to support those so tragically less fortunate than ourselves. And, for the most part, we do. Our generosity of spirit as a Nation is overwhelming when we are called upon by those who need us.
Knowing we are capable of such compassion then, take time to look a little harder at the people we interact with on a daily basis, whether it be face-to-face or via some other communication forum (as fellow Brit Writers’ Awards author Sinead Gillespie pointed out in her blog Sinead: An author with an Aspie). Take a look. Read Sinead’s other blogs, while you are there. Find out about the person. Likewise, take a moment to look at Claire Kinton’s recent blog Living with Dyslexia. Both blogs will strike chords for many people. As authors, we share this information precisely for that reason, to help other people and, importantly, hopefully, to inspire.
We all, whoever we are, have most likely suffered life’s psychological and emotional dramas. It’s part of being human. Kindness and understanding is something we can offer others to ease that suffering sometimes…and it costs nothing. We can give that freely. We could even have a “be kind to people” Internet philosophy. It’s a thought. A lot of people get hurt by unkind comment via internet forums, occasionally with catastrophic consequences.
I have someone “special” in my life. I can’t share more, for his sake. This I will say though. Yesterday, after his hospital appointment and while I was standing petrified, literally frozen with shock to the spot, that person took the initiative that others couldn’t and whisked a toddler—a rosy-cheeked, smiling toddler—from the path of an oncoming bus. There were several other buses behind it, coming at speed along a city centre bus lane. Beside herself, the little girl’s mum burst into tears. My heart stopped. My special person shrugged—as if he did that kind of thing twice a day and marched on.
A very special person indeed.
Life can be kind. Equally, it can be terribly cruel. We all suffer. Let’s be a little kinder to each other.