There's so much rejection in the path to pursuing the life of an artistic professional although, what I've learned is that it's important to not dwell on that fact. Although, when your left wondering why do I do this, why do I willingly lock myself in a room and pour my heart out to a notebook or a computer in words over and over again and willingly be at the mercy of some stranger's opinion of what's "good" and what's "bad" writing there's nothing that's more of a refreshing beacon of light than George Orwell's opinion essay"Why I write" (1946). Orwell's essay illuminates a perspective of someone who has something important to say and is driven by political things he wants to draw attention to, a common message of all his novels yet, is unafraid to admit that there's a part of him that selfishly wants to just make his voice heard.
I re-read it recently at a time when I was considering some serious questions about where my life is going and kind of wondered what kept me on a path where the rejection rate was high and endless that ensured a lifetime of instability. I knew that my heart was in it but certain incidents made me not just blindly pursue but also question "why". Then I remembered something I said that had a great deal of honesty to it that I said in the Soulpepper Academy interview process: I'm drawn to the pursuit of changing perspectives on, celebrating, and shining light on anything that classifies as an abnormality because it's a very real part of my existence that I'm both terrified of and drawn to. I also found a great deal of value in being a participant in taking one idea and incorporating the ideas, strengths, and weaknesses of multiple people for one larger creative product. Other than the compensation of financial instability I've began to realize that there's a reason many creative people who make art in any medium professionally are not just artists but teachers too. There's this common motivation and love of mentoring other people and using the medium you know to bring about discussion and change in others.
Recently in the arts in Canada there's been a lot of financial cuts because it was argued that these things were somehow 'elitist' or 'not essential'. If you pay close attention to the common traits of the people who live their lives as artistic professionals who aren't celebrities or famous authors they are hard working individuals pursuing a life that, on the outside looks glamourous and effortless but in all honesty is brutal and involves hard work and plenty of training. It's a profession that's harsh where the rejection rate is high and the success of your work is at the mercy of the taste of multiple individuals with a wide variety of values, interests, backgrounds,occupations,and opinions that have a strong impact on what they see as 'good' and 'bad'. Did I mention that it's much harsher than other occupations and you constantly shift from a state of employed to unemployed and back again with no certainty whatsoever of your future? Hardly the traits of a glamourous, elitist, profession. These are people who are willing to make sacrifices and be metaphorically naked in front of others and work often for not a lot of money just so that they can do what they love.
Yeah, sure I've taken off the rose coloured glasses of some false and common sense of glamour but,what's the value? We as people need entertainment and have this obsession with escapism and like engaging in discussion and challenging perspectives on things and love being lead by the hand through a fictional world where we can see things differently and apply this to our own lives somehow. It reflects who we are as human beings and draws attention to things.We need it because it provides faith and brings together communities and that is why I keep on trying and the arts are essential.