We get obsessed with struggle- especially artists. Struggle feels like part of our identity. We struggle to create- our art, and a living.
When did we equate struggle with effort?
There’s an effort that is joyful, exuberant, easy. Like darling Lesley says in Ted Lasso,
“When you’re with the right person, even the hard times are easy.”
For me, that “person” is my purpose, my passion, my vision for my life, my art, and my world.
I believe I am worthy of a life beyond struggle. But that doesn’t mean all the struggle will disappear.
We get obsessed with success- especially on social media. Success is a peak, but according to algorithms, it’s the only thing worth writing about.
When did we lose reverence for the valleys?
The Danuta Gleed Literary Award exists thanks to a generous donation from the late Danuta’s husband. It was one of the few awards Sluts and Whores was eligible for, and the only one whose deadline I didn’t miss.
An award like this can launch a career.
I didn’t even make the shortlist.
What do we do when our dreams fail us? Or when we feel rejected by a world we so long to be a part of?
We have two choices: give up, or keep going.
Not too long ago, I fell in love with a man, and he helped me fall in love with country music.
This doesn’t embarrass me. (For an explanation, see my other music loves, including but not limited to emo and musicals. My Spotify is a cringe fest!)
I love country because it has a song for every moment: the goods, the bads, the highs, the lows, the maybes, the nos.
The country song for this moment: Doin’ This by Luke Combs.
For those who refuse to click the link (fair enough), I’ll elaborate:
In the song, an interviewer asks the singer,
“What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?”
“I’d still be doing this.”- with or without success.
He goes on to describe a life “feeling on fire on a stage”, no matter its size.
“It ain’t about the fame.
It ain’t about the fortune.”
It’s about following the call of your soul.
Full disclosure: I wrote most of this post well before knowing the results for the Danuta Gleed shortlist. Up til this morning, I was still hoping for that glorious email that said, “Yes.”
As much as this hurts, it doesn’t make a difference. It doesn’t change what I’m here to do.
I’m doing what I love.
That’s the only worthwhile reason to do anything.
If you lead with love, you’ll make mistakes, but do no wrong. You’ll fail, but you’ll thrive. Material success will be revealed for what it is: a bonus.
I do not mean to diminish the financial struggle artists face. I have explored and sometimes suffered some of the “lowest” jobs you could think of. I have literally shovelled shit. I have disinfected menus and toilets. I’ve broken down from a glance at my bank account, panicked at credit card statements, and, as it seems, will continue to do so.
My closest experience to financial stability was via sex work, which both increased and crushed my confidence. Why was that service my sole financial validation? Why didn’t my art hold the same value?
Capitalism is far from a meritocracy. There are too many struggling who supply indescribable value to world- whether through their art, or their presence as human beings. People have to ride the luck of the market to subsist. Artists shouldn’t rely on grants and awards, as grateful as I am for their existence.
Art is not a product. People are not brands. Life cannot be reduced to Likes and trends.
I am proud supporter of UBI, and hope to see it arrive as soon as possible. I’d love to receive universal basic income now, but would be just as happy to see UBI enacted after I’ve achieved financial independence.
For some, $10 000 is a boost; for others, a shopping spree.
For me (and most artists), it would be life-changing.
True happiness is having the power to love life no matter what happens.
To give, no matter what you have.
I promise I will keep giving, because it is all I can do. The world gives us so much: inspiration, beauty, struggle, surrender.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude. For all I have, all I receive, and all I can give.
I only want to receive so that I can live well, and give more.
Keep an eye out for exciting changes soon.
PS Right now, 25% of Sluts and Whores ebook and paperback sales will go to Doctors Without Borders to provide humanitarian aid to the Ukraine. Buy it now!