Other People Shouldn’t Suffer for Your Art

It’s clear to all artists that to make your art, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices. No artist makes enough money to make a living right off the bat, and most artists never make enough money to quit their day job. It’s nice to dream about making a living as an artist, but these days it’s a long shot. Even if you get there and can finally quit your day job, it takes time to get there.

Actor’s find whatever work they can between acting gigs. It’s so normal that we talk about actor’s waiting tables like it’s a joke. Moms and Dads wait until dinner is over and the kids are asleep to spend what time they can on their writing. Painters go without food so they can buy paints. Everyone gives up a certain amount of free time, luxuries,  and social activities so that they can create. It’s expected.

When an artist believes that they are somehow owed the time and space to create–you know, because they’re all fancy and shit–that is when the trouble starts.

The phrase is “starving artist,” it’s not “starving artist’s family.”


This duck is young and doesn’t have a family, so if he wants to starve for his art that’s nobody’s business but his own.

Enter Bob. (Stunt name of course.) Bob had a nice writing gig that paid the bills, but he lost his job a few years ago. He has looked for another job, but he has issues, and troubles, and a sore left toe, and there are just so many lame reasons he can’t get work. Besides, he can’t find another writing job and non-writing jobs are beneath him. He’s an artist, you know, so he shouldn’t have to work some other sort of job. He should be free to create, and his family and friends should respect that. They should support him in his decision.

Support is a fine thing. We all should have supportive people in our lives. However, the minute we expect that support to go from moral to financial, we are being a douche. If we choose to suffer for our art that’s fine, but if we expect others to suffer for it, that makes us a selfish dick.

I feel sorry for Bob’s wife. Her husband has decided for her that she should support him so he doesn’t have to get some crappy non-artistic job. The trouble is that Bob’s wife doesn’t make enough money to support them. Bob’s been off work for a couple of years now, they’ve lost all their savings and Bob has even cashed out his retirement plan. They are running on fumes and the fumes themselves are almost exhausted.


If your dream is to swim this river, then train, and work, and do it.  Don’t expect other people to leap in the water and tow you across.

Bob is very angry at his wife’s family. They call her often, encouraging her to leave Bob. Bob won’t work and he and his wife are out of money. Her family’s phone calls leave her crying, and Bob blames both her and her family. He thinks his wife’s family should do more to support him. He seems to think they should hand him money instead of telling him to get a job. He thinks his wife should tell them to bugger off and stop making his wife cry.

Bob has no idea that she’s crying because of him. She’s crying because he has put her in an impossible situation, and isn’t doing a thing to help her.

My opinion is that Bob’s wife should leave him. She should move in with her caring and supportive family and let Bob wallow in his pride and laziness. Because his wife’s family is being supportive, they’re just supporting their daughter, and that’s the way it should be. Bob himself has pretty much resigned from the family with his selfish attitude. He doesn’t want to be a partner, he wants someone to take care of him so he can wallow in his art. That’s not his wife’s job, and it certainly is not her family’s job.

Bob should swallow his pride and go out and get any damn job he can. Instead of whining about the money running out and refusing to admit it’s his fault, he should stop looking for jobs that don’t exist and get a job anywhere. Amazon is always looking for people, as are all the other warehouses.


He could go work on a riverboat.  I’ve mostly been a costumer, but I’ve worked all kinds of jobs between gigs.  Not a riverboat, at least, not yet.

The real problem is not Bob’s wife or her family. The real problem is Bob. He’s using the fact that there are no jobs in his field as an excuse not to work anywhere. And he types away on his books as his life falls down around him, and then blames everyone else for not being supportive of his art.

Bob should try being supportive of his wife for a change.

Bob’s story is not the first I’ve found of this nature. I have little sympathy for people like Bob. They seem to think all the people who read their tale of woe will rally around them and bad-mouth all those non-supportive people in their lives, and they get confused when other artists tell them to get a job. Most of them have jobs outside their art, after all.

Now, I also know families who have decided together that they will make sacrifices so the artist in the family has time for their art. That is perfectly awesome. If the family can make it work, then the artist is very lucky to be able to do that. I know a woman whose husband makes a good enough living that she can stay home and create, as long as they don’t get too lavish with their lifestyle. My fiancé and I moved into my parent’s house. I’m my mother’s caretaker, I take care of the house and the meals and the shopping, and my sweetie works. I know that this situation may not last forever, but it’s working for now. When I need to, I will totally go get a job at Amazon or the nearest whopperburger if that’s what I need to do.

Families and spouses may chose to make a certain level of sacrifice in order to support a loved one’s dream, but the minute that an artist feels entitled to that, regardless of the feelings of their family or the ability to pay the rent, then the artist is a selfish douche. If the family cannot get by at a reasonable level of comfort without the artist working, then the artist needs to work. Just because one is creative, one is not entitled to a living.

Starve for your art if you must, but don’t expect others to starve with you. That’s no way to treat your loved ones.


My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success, the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

About JulianneQJohnson

I am a writer in Indiana who lives with two cats, two ferrets, and one fiance. I enjoy cheap coffee and expensive chocolate.
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