I used to really dislike the song, “Santa Baby,” in its many variations. But after hearing the original Eartha Kitt version and reading the lyrics, I’ve turned it around in my head. It’s a grossly materialistic plea, for sure, but it’s also a cute bit of fun, if you don’t take it too seriously.
And, of course, that’s not a bad lesson for life, and for your art. We cringe a little at artists who are really earnest about the value of their own work. Meh. Artists with a sense of humor, and perspective, make me want more of their stuff. It’s a more enjoyable way to experience life and art, both.
Change is all around us. It’s baked into the nature of the universe. Maintaining a little openness to change gives you some flexibility in other areas of life, not to mention your work. It’s the cross-cultural principle that appears in The Talmud, Aesop’s Fables, the Tao Te Ching, and others: be flexible like a reed or a willow, not hard and unbending like a dead branch or a hardwood.
Information wants to be free. I’m a sucker for contemporary takes on free-exchange-of-ideas or gift economy idealism or similar openness, despite my suspicion and wariness of hippies and Boomer free love types. I apologize if such stereotypes offend you. My biases should be open, too.
The ability of anyone and everyone to start and maintain an online creative presence is simultaneously its triumph and its downfall. When I was making a comic book in the mid-90s, I used to say (with a smirk I’d like to slap off my own face, looking back at it), “the best thing about comics is that anyone can do it. The worst thing about comics is that ANYone can do it.” But there was then, as now, always room for good work, stuff that was crafted with care and heart, work that was dedicated and sincere.
It’d be nice to be able to make at least a partial living on our creation. Hey, I’m working on that side of things, too. But, as Cory Doctorow is fond of saying, the biggest impediment to creators isn’t piracy—nor the huddled masses yearning to download for free—it’s obscurity. And there’s a big picture reason to get your work out there into the mix.
We thrive on stories, songs, and spectacle. Creations need to be shared. We all benefit from a large pool of human-made soup, sweet sour or salty as it may be. Ideas come from other ideas, all of it laid on the bricks of the past, from time immemorial, when the first beat was drummed, the first song sung, the first dance grooved, the first story told, the first drawings scratched onto rock. Sharing is imperative. And it’s utterly human.
Keeping work to yourself is spinning your wheels, so sooner is better than later. Habit is good, but if it all stays at home, we lose out on your part of the recipe.