How to Be an Artist

Keith S. Wilson
June 15, 2017
Comments 1

“Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for plays, paintings, pageants, and scholarly journals, regardless of the works’ attraction or merit. In the words of Citizens Against Government Waste, “actors, artists, and academics are no more deserving of subsidies than their counterparts in other fields; the federal government should refrain from funding all of them.” – “Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017” by the Heritage Foundation

  1. Don’t have kids.
  2. Don’t have preexisting conditions.
    1. That’s not a pain in your side. Not for years. Not in your side.
  3. Don’t have hobbies that are unrelated to writing.
  4. Be an introvert.
    1. Get a cat.
      1. Face it: you’re going to miss a lot of time with your loved ones.
    2. Move to the cheapest apartment possible. A tiny studio might work for a few years, but getting as many roommates as you can get is cheaper.
    3. Take a customer service job. If you have an MFA, it qualifies you to teach, but to make a living as a teacher, you’ll have to teach multiple courses. You’ll never have any time to write.
      1. At work, make a list of everything you need to do when you’re not at work—what you’ll write, good lines if they come to you.
    4. Make sure one of your jobs is third shift at a grocery store.
      1. Third shift is when expired food gets thrown out.
      2. If a teaching gig or poetry reading comes up, you don’t need to call off or find someone to trade; skip sleep.
        1. Never turn down anything that pays. Ever.
      3. Nobody wants third shift: guaranteed hours.
        1. You will make just enough that you don’t qualify for food stamps. The woman behind the desk might run the numbers twice and apologize. Be prepared for her to ask you if you’re okay.
          1. You’re okay.
        2. When closing up the store and walking home at night, listen to podcasts; this may be your reading for the day.
          1. There are apps that will read the text from PDFs and Word docs to you; this is another way to catch up on reading.
        3. Agonize over whether or not to buy a bike to save thirty minutes a day lost in transit (you can use this time to write). Bikes cost money.
        4. Freelance.
          1. Buy a foot pedal. Do transcription work.
          2. Do deliveries for businesses.
          3. Volunteer for cleaning shifts. Any shift other people don’t want to do.
          4. Write freelance articles.
          5. Convince readings to pay you.
        5. Start drinking coffee.
          1. Upgrade to cold brew, which you can make in huge batches and store in the fridge to save time and money.
            1. Slowly wean yourself off cream; it costs too much.
          2. Eat on a budget. Two dollars or less a day is possible with ramen and free food (see above).
          3. You may have issues with your teeth.
            1. You have issues with your teeth. Go to the dentist.
              1. Your dentist will see you for the first time and stress that you should be calm.
                1. You are calm.
              2. Some of them are lost causes.
  • You will get used to texting your dentist about exposed bone or missing stitches or excessive bleeding or what crown lengthening is (you should not look it up) or why there need to be pins in your teeth (do not look it up) or how much a dental implant is (never look it up).
  • Even if you think that your teeth are part of your body, medical insurance doesn’t cover your teeth.
  • If you want to keep most of your teeth, all the money you make will go to this; start over at 1.
  1. Write.

 

Note from the artist: If you watched any show, listened to any music, bought any product, listened to any speech, enjoyed the skyline or the layout of a park, went to any restaurant, played any video game, read any magazine, wore any jewelry or makeup or clothing, you consumed a product an artist touched. Even assuming you paid for the service, only some of those artists got enough money to put food on their table. To fix their teeth.

 

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