At the beginning of a plane flight recently I dutifully watched the airhost go through the safety drill, which is a drill that’s been so drummed into us that most of us don’t even watch it anymore, preferring to sort out the headphones and see what’s on the movie menu. Often I don’t watch the drill either, but I did this time. Except I wasn’t really listening. Because I found myself thinking about the advice that parents must always put their own oxygen-mask on first before assisting children. It just doesn’t seem right. Surely in a moment of terrifying panic we should over-ride any innate selfishness we might have and help the helpless. But, of course, the airline advice is sensible – how can a parent assist a child if the parent can’t breathe? It’s an instance of when thinking about ourselves is logical. And if there’s one part of society that is constantly accused of thinking about themselves it’s our artists.
There is nothing like writing. There’s the heady rush when it’s all coming together: words flowing, characters forming, predicaments becoming drama; when time – real time – is lost and hours pass in the mark of a pen. Or the gut-wrenching frustration when it all falls apart as though it was never meant to be, a wordy nightmare, a mushy mess that should be forgotten as quickly as possible. And then there’s publication, attempts at publication at least, the odds so resolutely stacked against the author – where I live, Australia, it’s estimated that only one in a thousand novel manuscripts are published. But still, despite these realities, millions of us, potentially even billions, are dedicated to some kind of creative practice – the writing of stories, the composition of music, making paintings, taking photographs, building sculptures, and acting and directing and dancing and singing. For many, most perhaps, it’s a hobby, an ‘outlet’. For others, however, it’s a dedicated pursuit, a serious intent, a commitment, a profession, perhaps even an obsession.
But how to organise a life, especially a domestic life, when this commitment, profession, obsession brings in an unreliable income at best, or no income at all, or actually costs money?
Keep reading over at Role/Reboot. Thanks to Meredith Landry.