How To Be A Broke Artist During The Holidays
It being Black Friday, I just wanted to talk a bit about money and the writer’s life. One of the things I try to remind the writers I work with as a coach is that they are artists. And artists do things differently because they see the world differently, and are uniquely sensitive. On top of that, artists have no financial security. Zip. Zero. None. So we can’t keep up with the Joneses. We can’t participate as much as we might want to in the materialism and gross consumerism that runs rampant in our society (mixed blessing!). We experience feast and famine more than the average Josephine. We get a sizable check from a publisher and think RETAIL THERAPY and then it’s gone and there are no more checks for possibly years. So we have to find ways to thrive despite our roller coaster bank accounts.
I wrote an epic four-part blog post about art and money in September, which basically gets into what it means to be an artist and have to, you know, buy food. You can find it here.
This post for today is specifically about being an artist during the holidays. In my experience as an adult, the holidays are a mindfuck for almost everyone. Top of the list is either family stress or money stress. Usually everyone experiences both at some point. As an artist, the holidays have become uniquely stressful because now I write full time. Which means I have become the stereotypical shoestring-budget artist in New York City.
On Facebook I talked a bit about how I’m participating in #buynothingday and #optoutside this year. No judgement for those of you that are shopping, by the way. I’m just trying to mindful about how and why I spend money, keep the corporations from hijacking my holiday, and push back against my natural inclination to WANT WANT WANT. Shopping stresses me out to the max and I just want to avoid that “grasping” inclination I have.
Here’s something I’m mentioning just here, though, and perhaps for the first time: I think the holidays trigger a lot of shame in people. SO much of it is wrapped up (no pun intended, but ha!) in money–buying gifts, traveling, getting party clothes, decorating, sending out cards etc. I think the shame comes in all kinds of ways, but I experience it most in terms of buying gifts and sending cards (which costs me well over $100). As a full-time writer, I just don’t have the scratch this year. And I can’t afford to buy people good gifts, anyway, so will a $5 or $10 Starbucks card make the difference? Then I just feel like it becomes an obligation and with no thought put into it, the value of the gift pretty much disappears. Why isn’t it okay for us to say, I love you but I’m broke? Oftentimes, we probably can say that and friends and family would totally get it. But then they’d still buy us gifts and that would trigger shame, yes?
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