Marielle Woods on set – one of the many creatives I admire and encourage you to support
Last week I wrote about the value of partnerships in writing, from the partnership between a writer and a reader, to partnerships with editors, collaborators, and co-writers. This week I want to look at a similar topic: supporting the arts, which in itself is another type of partnership – a network of supporters partnering with a creative to help spread awareness for, and enable, their creative endeavors.
While I address this network from the perspective of a writer I would argue that is equally applicable to any type of artist be he or she a musician, a painter, an illustrator, a writer, a director, a photographer… the list goes on. That being said, for ease I will primarily reference this type of network in so much as it supports writing since that is the perspective from which I have derived my experience with it. No offense to other creatives is intended.
Often as a writer I find that I want to buckle down and write that next manuscript and push everything else to the periphery. That next work of fiction, that next story, dominates all else. The thought of investing my limited time to supporting others, diverting it from that primary focus of creation, can be easily cast aside as a luxury for another day. It is not that I do not want to support my peers so much as it is that I want to write and it is easy to forget all else while in that drive, especially when I also hold another full time job, am raising a young daughter, and, like everyone else, am simply juggling the typical responsibilities of everyday life.
Currently, even with that drive to create, and multiple original stories battling for my attention, the majority of my writing time pours into blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, and other brand strategy documentation (a necessity to be discussed later). In other words, at the moment my writing is dominated by the business side of writing – building an audience, planning, proofing contracts, and prepping pitches and cover letters in attempts to be read. It is disheartening when so much valuable and often meager writing time is invested in the these necessities of what it is to be a modern writer instead of working on that latest work of fiction that is pounding at my skull demanding to burst forth and be heard. I imagine that many, if not all creatives, struggle with this balance.
To cut to the chase (since I’ve already spent way too long in the build up), writers and other artists can easily get lost in the struggle for time and neglect supporting their peers.
To my fellow artists and creatives, I urge you, don’t do this.
Just as you might be struggling to get your work read, your music heard, or your film financed, so are your peers. We are all in this battle together and without our mutual support of each other the world will be robbed of many deserving voices fighting to be heard. We must support each other.
This is easy advice to give, and likely to hear. It is much harder to live by it. Admittedly I have neglected this responsibility for many years, providing some support, but rarely with the fervor it deserves. Yet there is good reason to try to curb that tendency, to reach out, to network, and to prop each other up.
Maybe that is simple to see, but I’ll sketch out a few of my quick, if verbose, thoughts on why we should make this effort.
1) Firstly, it comes back to last week’s discussion on the value of partnerships. As John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” We do not operate, nor benefit from the delusion that we operate, in isolation. We are better for the whole of our networks, our peers, our partners. These relationships challenge us, improve us, and make our work better. Our writing has little, if any, meaning, devoid of partnerships, of readers with whom we share our ideas. If we don’t support our peers, if we don’t build and encourage those connections, then we deprive ourselves of the benefit of those partnerships.
2) Secondly, pure and simple, we all need support and need to provide that support. Partnerships improve our work and that network brings in the value of being part of a larger whole, but even aside from being a part of that network, we can’t just act parasitically upon that relationship. For one, that type of behavior will be quickly noticed and the network will fall apart, but two, if we want our own creative work to reach an audience, we need to support the work of our peers, become a part of the larger network, and in so doing not only will we help our peers, but we open ourselves up to them, encouraging that support back. We become a part of the larger, we expand our audience, our reach, and we strengthen our relationships. With that strength support will come.
3) Again, along the lines of avoiding using your network parasitically, supporting that network also must come from a place beyond our own desire to feed off of it and benefit from it. I live by the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I don’t come to this from a religious place, it just is the heart of how I believe people and society should act. It is a moral commitment. If you appreciate the support of others to your own work, if you desire that support, how can you ask for it, or even deserve it, if you’re not being that positive change in the world and providing that support yourself without the expectation of it in return. Find people whose work you value and support it just as you would wish others would do for you.
4) My personal odd morality aside, it just feels good to help. Sometimes we can forget that. Perhaps you get bogged down in your work, you isolate yourself, and you forget to help your fellow creatives. It happens to all of us, but even just sharing a friend’s work, buying something they’ve written, or supporting their crowd-funding campaign, at least for me, invariably brings about a good feeling, a joy in the knowledge that you tried to help in whatever small way that you can.
5) As an added bonus, as you help more, as you give more without expecting, ironically enough you might just find yourself building future collaborations. That is the byproduct of a strong network, and those collaborations can lead to many exciting journeys. But if you don’t try, if you don’t immerse yourself amongst your peers, if you try to hide in your writer’s cave, you’ll miss out on all of those opportunities.
So, anyway, hopefully I’ve made some sense amidst this rambling. Now get out there and support your peers. Maybe some karmic return will come your way, maybe it won’t, but at least you can feel good for trying.
And on that note, it would be silly to discuss support networks without offering out some support of my own. So, here are some of my friends and colleagues whose work I admire greatly, that I encourage you to check out (legally (no torrents) – a matter that deserves its own blog at a later date), and hope that you enjoy.
Let’s go show some support for others trying to bring the world quality entertainment.
An amazing writer whom I had the pleasure of meeting many years ago in college, Collin Kelly writes with Jackson Lanzing, and together they created and contributed to numerous quality comic properties over the past few years. Please check out their work including:
Hactivist Vol. 1 & Vol 2.
And work on various DC properties including Batman & Robin Eternal and Grayson.
Like their work? Please follow Collin, Jackson, and their frequent collaborator, the excellent artist, Marcus To on Twitter: @cpkelly, @jacksonlanzing, @marcusto
JC is a comic artist with whom I have the pleasure of collaborating. I am ecstatic to have his support as an artist, and am constantly thrilled with his work.
The Gates of Dawn
Writer, Actress, Comedian, Documentarian, she is powerhouse talent, whose sharp wit and candor is always appreciated. If you can catch her stand-up, please do. Otherwise, follow her at the links below.
Marielle is a talented producer and director, with whom I worked many jobs ago back in my reality television days. She is currently working on fund-raising for a short film, Do No Harm, examining the dilemmas of a combat medic attempting to hold onto his humanity while facing the dilemmas of war.
Michael Shaw Fisher
Michael Shaw Fisher and I attended the same writing program at USC, sharing many classes together. His writing has always proven to be brilliant, and he has since gone on to prove himself an amazing playwright and actor, whose productions have won awards year after year in the Hollywood Fringe Festival. If you ever have the chance to witness his work on stage, take it! His current production is SKULLDUGGERY: The Musical Prequel to Hamlet, which will run in Los Angeles September 30 – November 5, with previews September 23rd and 24th.
Orgasmico Theatre Company
Michael and I became nemeses, and close friends, working on numerous marketing projects together between 2010 and 2013. He has a passion for his music and visual art that cannot be rivaled, and is the lead singer, songwriter, and frontman for Socionic. They are currenty finishing their Orenda Rises tour and will be playing again in Los Angeles at The Whiskey A Go Go on Saturday, October 15th.
Nadjib and I attended the same undergraduate program at North Carolina State University where I was lucky enough to witness some of his early work on his passion project, Legends of Onile. Working in both comics and sculpture he is crafting a beautiful tale worth your support.
Legends of Onile
Nate and I attended college together at the University of Southern California. He is a talented writer and director and I am always thankful to have him as a reader. He is currently in pre-production to direct a short horror film, Trust Me: A Witness Account of the Goatman. Learn more at:
Trust Me: A Witness Account of the Goatman
Happy Writing, All!