The Spreading Devaluation of Creativity

Yeah, you know I don't have much in my life worth blogging about when you read a title like that. My life got boring, so I'd like to bring up a little something that's been bugging me for a while.

Ever since computers came into play in evaluating education, the "soft" fields of study, the ones where appreciation is subjective, started getting eroded. Why? Computers could only crunch definite numbers. Therefore, only the definitely quantifiable achievements ever got notice. And funding.

And of course the trope of the starving artist began sometime after the invention of photography, when getting a portrait was no longer a true status item and realism became passé.

It shouldn't have to work the way it does.

With the amount of art, in various forms, that we all consume, you'd think that artists are valued. Nope. Try telling someone you make art, sometime. The inevitable response, unless you happen to be a Name in the field, is something along the lines of, "And what do you do to earn money?"

Sometimes, they ask: "What's your real job?"

And it drives me slightly bonkers because I can bet all the money I have [currently around $5 cash] that these people have never created anything by themselves since about pre-school.

People who read books but have never tried to write one have no idea about the research and time that goes into a novel. I must admit that I don't, either. I conduct research by osmosis, for the most part. I pick up interesting factoids like sticky surfaces collect grit and random hairy objects.

Things stick with me, like the true meaning of "iota" or "tittle". [They are, respectively, the dot above a lowercase I and the crossbar of a lowercase T] Which I read about in a dictionary long about 1982. And I'm eager to find out about new and interesting things. Which kind of puts me in the statistical outlier area of Douglas Adams' theory about new things1. But I digress.

People who stare at a painting or own one have little idea about the time or effort that went into it. Or about the artist's anguish about wanting to fix what nobody else sees as wrong. People who listen to music have little idea about the number of takes involved, the years of working on a number, or the sheer amount of effort it takes to get that feeling into a song2. People who watch a television show often don't know how many hours it takes to get that half-hour of entertainment together.

I think the mundane assumption is that if something takes minutes to enjoy, it must also take minutes to make.

Hahahaha nice try.

Nobody in the world has ever sat down at or with an instrument of choice and just pooped out a magnum opus inside of mere minutes. I'm willing to bet that the intense autiste 'savants' have spent every waking minute with their medium of choice before the rest of the world noticed their "talent". It takes years of work. Day after day. Sometimes, all day.

I have days in which the words fight me. I have moments where, after writing an entire paragraph in whatever I'm working on at the time, I realise that I'm going in completely the wrong direction and I have to trash that to try another angle.

Conversely, there are also days when the words flow like a river and I have to stop myself before I hurt my wrists again. Those days are both wonderful and potentially excruciating.

And there are days when, like in this entry, I am drilling myself to learn something new. My next book, five weeks away from commencing, will be written in Markdown. That's the code used to create entries like this one, and all the Instants you read every day on this blog. I will be using both educational and humorous footnotes3 because they're fun to do, and learning all about them and how they work takes some significant practice.

The next time you're prone to assume that an artwork must have been "easy", or that your kid could do the same thing... Try actually making something like it. Or take a peek behind the curtain and watch an artist at work. Or ask one what their process is.

Trust me. Artsy fartsy types just love rabbiting on about their work. Make sure you have some hours to spare, though. And maybe a packed lunch.

  1. The theory goes something like: Anything that exists while you are a child is normal. Anything that comes into existence while you are growing up is interesting. Anything that is invented after you turn Forty is intimidating by its very existence. Since this humble author is 44, I must be the dot outside the curve.

  2. But not me! I saw some of that effort in a livestream, thanks to my immense nerditry concerning all things Steam Powered Giraffe.

  3. Of course, I can't use this footnote system until next years' Year of Instants because editing is a stress I'd rather not have some ninety stories in. But I will be using it in my diary entries, and the aforementioned next book.