Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Importance of Being... Perseverant

While working on this week’s posts, I was ever again reminded of how important it is for an artist to persevere. Success rarely falls into our laps at once. On the contrary, it uses to be the fruit of much thought paired with hard work. The Commitments needed to find their niche – soul music. George Bernard Shaw needed to find his medium – stage plays. James Joyce needed to find his style – stream of consciousness. The editors and contributors of The Bohemyth are defining their writing selves on the internet. And I? I’m forging this blog into shape with every post that I share.

Every musician, writer, designer, painter, photographer, sculptor, director, actor, comedian can tell you one or two things about the struggles that their choice of career implies. Life is no bed of roses, even less for an artist! Rejection and polemics pave our ways every day. As long as the public ignores us, we’re nothing but would-be or hobby artists for the rest of the world. We’re expected to earn our livings with something useful like everybody else and to squeeze our vocation into our scarce free time. Some can deal with the situation, while others go to pieces under the pressure.

Our materialistic society appreciates creativity only in so far as it observes the rules of economy and supports the system. Market indicators decide about the future of young artists. Sex and crime sell? Writers take care to include sex and crime into your novels! This is not the way how you are writing? Sex and crime are not your themes? Too bad. Maybe you have a fantasy novel about witches or vampires on store? No? And how about some chick lit? This isn’t your genre either. Then you’re hopeless. It’s your own fault, if you remain an unpublished author.

Unfortunately, most publishers really shrink back from writers who dare swimming against the current. Their priority definitely is to sell books, not to discover literary genius. They are seldom willing to take more risk than is inevitable in the business and prefer to concentrate on mainstream. George Bernard Shaw and James Joyce were lucky. They met the right people who believed in their creative work. Who knows if either of them would ever have become so famous, if he hadn’t found a person farsighted enough to give him a chance and to support him?

Let’s hope that there are still some people of the kind of Jack Grein and Harriet Shaw Weaver on this planet to discover us.


  1. The online environment now offers a democratic alternative to traditional media, although online and self publishing options have their own perils and there is much to be said for the art of good, professional editing.
    I just wish that the popular market, what is percieved as selling well was not the only factor in determining what is actually published.

  2. It's true, Arabella, that self-publishing and books on demand can be a good alternative to usual publishing, the trouble is - at least here in the German-speaking world - that one such book makes it almost impossible to convince the well-known publishers to accept you as an author later on. It ruins your reputation.
    I agree with you that it would be nice to see more publishers taking the risk of bringing out books that don't serve the popular market. They might be surprised by the demand.


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