I remember watching Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova pick up the Oscar for Best Original Song for the movie ‘Once’, and the thing that struck me most about his acceptance speech was his parting comment; Make art.
Over the past few months, I’ve been reading a lot about the rise of self-publishing in relation to market share, sales and the huge royalties to be gained by authors. The truth of the matter is, most indie authors earn an average of about $1,000 per year (according to a recent survey in The Guardian). So why do we do it? Because writing novels is an easy, breezy past-time that turns you into an A-list celeb overnight? No?? Well if it’s not for the money, or the fame, what is it that makes us write? For me, it’s because I want to make something. I want to make something beautiful and magical and special. But in order to make something beautiful and magical and special, your motivation needs to come from somewhere deep and honest, your desire to create.
If your main motivation is to become famous or wealthy, I’m afraid that writing (and the arts for that matter), is not the right path for you. Don’t get me wrong – I hope that with time, dedication and hard work, I will be able to make a living out of writing. This will mean I will have reached a wider readership and built up something of a back catalogue. But my ultimate wish is that I will produce beautiful stories that will touch and entertain people and hopefully, take on a life of their own.
Similarly, I paint to create something of myself. I don’t make much money out of that either (yet!) but I can’t imagine my life without art. It’s about something more – it’s self-expression and the importance of having that outlet. I stick at it because I want to keep growing, keep honing my skills and with any luck, find an audience who are willing to invest in what I have to say.
There are so many self-published authors out there today and I think it’s fantastic that we have all these platforms at our fingertips, so we can realise our dreams without having to impress the gatekeepers. But lets not lose sight of why we’re doing this when the number-crunchers start boiling everything down to pounds and pence. As Glen Hansard said, first and foremost, make art!
And here’s that beautiful song, Falling Slowly, to brighten up your day 🙂