The Value of Independent Art

A few weeks ago, an artist I know declared, via social media, that they were thinking of giving up art for public consumption. They felt tired, drained and that they were giving too much into the world without it being a fair exchange. Their comment section became a flood of comments such as “don’t give up,” “hang in there,” and my all-time favorite, “keep working; you’ll make it someday!” I’m sure the comments from family, friends and associates of the artist were meant to be encouraging. I didn’t say anything. Although I think the artist’s work is good, I hadn’t been invested in it enough to warrant leaving a response. Besides, I’m okay with artists taking a break from art for public consumption; I’ve been in that place before.

Each time I stepped away from publicly display of my writing, it was because I wasn’t seeing it being valued by the consuming public. Did I swear off writing entirely? Nope. Vow to never pick up a pen or open a word processing program for the rest of my life? Not even close. I continued to write (for reasons I list in this post), I’d just choose not to share it online or for the masses. This time away I use to recharge myself, do some soul searching, engage in other activities that I enjoy but haven’t been able to devote time to before. And then I come back. Most artists that I’ve met come back.

But it’s okay if they don’t come back. I don’t believe artists should force themselves to share their work if they feel like it isn’t being valued (by whatever measurements the artist chooses for themselves). If the public doesn’t value it, then the public doesn’t deserve it. Artists shouldn’t bludgeon themselves against a brick wall because of the pressure from a society that doesn’t even value your craft to “put your work out.”

I was thinking of that when I posted this tweet:

People love to offer empty words of general encouragement. They may come from a good place. These words don’t matter when an artist is hurting because they put their work out and no one seems to cares about the art or devalues it or steals it. Verbal support needs to be backed up with action. There are times I believe no one values my work.  This leads to artistic depression; I question if writing is even worth it. I question if I’m good enough to be paid. Saying “keep writing” when I’ve been writing doesn’t do anything for my morale.

I’m a giving person by nature, and freely posting my content fit my personality (there was a point in time that I gave away all my eBooks for free). But I also felt empty and drained, because I didn’t receive what I believed would happen — I was trying to generate buzz and go viral, as I’ve seen other writers do. I became aware that this was an antithesis to my nature. I just want to write, and share my writing with the people who value it; the size of the audience is not as important as their respect for my art. I had to find a healthy compromise.

I believe I have. I relaunched my Patreon account to post new poems, stories and audio. I decided to keep the writing I’ve already posted on my blog and uploaded older collections as free eBooks onto Issuu. And I made the vow of no more free content; all new poems and stories will appear on Patreon.

I had to set this boundary for myself. To prevent me from feeling fatigued with creating art. I set this boundary for my sanity.

I sincerely thank all my patrons — current and future ones — for their support. Thank you for valuing this independent artist.

*This post first appeared on my Patreon here.