Friday, June 11, 2010

Apes and Art

I’ve been blogging long enough now that I’ve watched some friends, followers, and acquaintances blink in and out of activity. Watching that made me think about how hard it often is to stay on projects with no monetary compensation. (Um… writing, for instance?) Most of us aren’t paid for our writing. And those of us that are, it’s likely not as much as we thought it would be starting out.

But is fame or fortune—or any other reward for that matter—really a reason to create? And what’s more, does it create the best possible art?
Picture found here.In his book, The Biology of Art, Desmond Morris tells of chimpanzees who were first taught to paint. Once the quality was deemed good by their handlers, the handlers began to reward them with peanuts. The chimps rapidly figured out that for every picture they painted, they would get peanuts. How did this change them? You guessed it—they began creating sloppy paintings in hopes of getting a reward faster
. This is not to say that every author who cranks out books and sends them to their publisher is creating sloppy work, but instead I’m asking why each of us really creates art.

Why do you? What are your motives to writing, blogging, or anything else you create?
Here’s my answer: If I’m honest, I certainly want to be published. More than once. If I’m honest, I started this blog to develop an online platform (though it’s turned into more than that). And if I’m honest, I want to be paid for writing, enough to meet my needs and NOT in peanuts. But I also want to create for creation’s sake. I can’t stop writing. It has stuck to my soul and I cannot stop even if I wanted to. Even more than that, I wish to make a career out of it. Hopefully. Wishfully. Truthfully. These are my goals.
So... what are your truthful answers?


  1. I'm with you, I can't stop writing. It would be a dream come true to be able to do something I'm so passionate about and be able to make a living out of it.

    Would I stop writing if I couldn't make a decent living? No. Would I hammer out crap faster if I got paid for it? No. I couldn't change my creative process to make money and my future agent will know that because I'm planning on being extremely verbal about it. I will probably write more which in turn, will seem like they're being written faster but if you have 12 hours a day to write, seven days a'll just happen.

  2. It's a means of escape. I love to travel in new worlds and explore characters and their motivations.

    And yes, I'd like to get my book at Barnes and Noble!

  3. I want people to read my books (and posts)! And I want people to like them. Yes, I need the affirmation!

    But apart from that rather pathetic admission, I love to lose myself in different worlds.

  4. I want people to read my work and enjoy it. I want to feel like I'm good at something. I don't think I could stop writing either. I finished my novel a week ago and I'm all itchy to start something new. I'm still trying to get the novel typed up, though.

  5. I wrote for many years with plenty of rejection, but I kept writing. I couldn't stop (the words would just pour out), and my goal was to be published.

    I hope to give as much pleasure to readers as other writers gave to me.

  6. I write because I love it and because my friends like reading my stories. Being published was great and certianly something I am very happy about but it wasn't my firt goal for my writing. I just wanted to create a great story that could be enjoyed. Now that I am published, I would like to get another book published but my first focus is still on just writing a story that my friends will like.

  7. I love that pic of that monkey!

    Anyway! I think I'm at the stage in my writing life where all I want is some kind of validation from an established source. If I could just win this competition or have a story accepted in that mag...!!

    And why did I start blogging? Honest answer? I was looking after my poor cat who was dying and I was lonely. Seriously. I didn't know who would understand this pain I was going through. And I've commented on blogs before I started my own so when I was at my lowest, I started mine to vent my fear of losing my cat. It just kind of grew from there really.

    Writing just sort of latched on to the blog - the blog was a distraction and a hobby. The writing was me attending courses and joining critiquing groups.

    I'm still learning to get the best out of my writing - so I guess until I get this validation I'm craving, I continue to learn and polish up my feeble writing skills!

    and I continue to run my blog as a fun and happy thing for me to do and to "meet" a whole variety of bloggers too.

    Good luck with your writing!!! Take care

  8. I'm with you too. I've always written - it's only in the last year or so I've thought of trying to publish something. (Boy, I've learned a lot since then!)

    I'll always write, but I'd love to be published, love to see my books on the bookstore shelf :)

  9. Truthfully, I can stop writing, but I don't want to. Writing makes me happy, and while it is my dream to get published, I will still write if I never do. :)

  10. I feel exactly the same way. Even when I get depressed because things aren't happening fast enough or I think I'll never get published, I can't stop writing. It's a sickness really... :)

  11. This goes back to my point about purpose. I believe that everything should have a purpose, and not a mercinary purpose either but a noble one. Otherwise it's a wasted effort that means nothing and will last only as long as the last royalty check.

    I try to always always have a purpose to my writing.


  12. I love writing. That I've managed to become published amazes me. I'm very grateful and humbled at any success I have had.

    Would I stop? I have no idea what I'd do if I couldn't write, so no.

  13. Jackee--I have an award for you over at my blog...I truly appreciate all of your encouragement. Thank you! Have a lovely weekend!!!

  14. My goals, I want people to read and enjoy my writing. To find it entertaining. Of course for that to happen I would have to be published, right? Yes of course I want to be published and like you more than once. I would love to make a living at it. I started my blog to get the courage to let others read my writing. Chicken liver here!!!

  15. I'd give the exact same answers you gave. I went many years without writing, but now that I've devoted myself to it, I'd be miserable if I tried to stop. And then I think, what if I get to the end of my life and realize I never went after my life's dream? How would that feel? Pretty awful. For now, I'm not published, but I'm giving it all I've got, which is much better than the alternative.

  16. I write for myself and I want people to like it. :) I would love to be paid for it, but I doubt that will happen. I began blogging as a resolution and for myself, to reach out and find other writers. That it's become so much more for me is thrilling.

  17. Good analogy of the artist monkey and the peanuts! What separates a monkey craving peanuts & a writer craving readers?

    Free will.

    That monkey was in a cage & had nothing better to do. You couldn't get that far w/ a wild monkey.

    Writers have a choice. They can sit on their rear ends & watch TV & get entertained. Or they can sit in front of their computers & be the entertainers.

    Again, free will.

    I write because I read. I've always loved to read & began imitating what I saw on the printed page. I now am working on a special blog about my Mom. I'm motivated to write this story because that's what happens when an idea is there for me. I keep writing until the story is finished.

  18. I've been wrestling with this question lately too. I recently met a newly published author who was completely MISERABLE because his sales were less than stellar. It was a real eye-opener to me that publication is not fulfilling like I have envisioned it to be, (and there are probably a lot of other careers that will make you more money with less emotional investment). With four small kids myself, I've to the conclusion lately that this isn't a good time in my life to have live by the one new book a year that most agents/publishers want to see.

    At the same time, I'm more on fire with my writing than ever. It's almost as if the realization publishing is not for me (at this time) has freed me to get creative again. ????

  19. Thanks for the post. for the most part you would love to people to read what you wrote and love it or what you created and love it. but generally we are just happy to create.

  20. I can't stop writing either. And since nobody's paying me (not even in peanuts), I must love it for writing's sake. Like Aubrie, there's an escapism element to it for me.

    My blog began so I didn't jump off the bridge with the though of a year of subbing ahead of me. It's kept me from falling so far.

  21. What a great post Jackee! I am glad that you continue to write and to create, so many of us benefot from your thoughts and creativity!

  22. In all honesty I love writing, but yes, I'd like to be paid (more than once). Getting paid would give me a sense of validation. I know I sound horrible...but I'm being honest.