I watched a graduate university speech by Neil Gaiman last week. He was talking to the arts grads of 2012 , giving them advice on the real world. He told his stories of hardship and success. Above all he said ‘Make good art’.
Making good art is not enough in our day and age. Back when he was a newbie, out in the real world, it was. Things were newer, talent was fewer and like Gaiman you didn’t need a degree to do it. Because art is art and skill came naturally if you had an artistic bent.
But like everything in education these days it’s measured not by talent but by statistics, league tables and the subjective opinion of academics wielding final grade certificates.
And it’s all bullshit. Very few creatives make enough money doing what they love no matter how you percieve their level of ability. Making good art – doing what you do best – may be your one and only love. But if you make it your job and if people don’t buy it or the market is just wrong, you may never be recognised for your talent or escape poverty. If your skill becomes a second place hobby in your life because you had to get a ‘real job’ where does that joy end, and the noose of creativity begin?
I wish I hadn’t been creative. I wish I had been happy to tow the line, content that a regular job paid enough to cover my bills, a social life and perhaps a holiday each year. Better still I wish I had been academic like my dad. I wish I hadn’t wanted different things to most people.
Maybe I’d make things for personal enjoyment or freelance on the side as I used to. Turning creativity into a product in our hand to mouth pound shop society turns it into a monster and makes you question that you ever had talent in the first place.
And that’s more damaging than not realising the potential of your skill. Because if you are creative and you can’t use your talent, what are you resigned to? And in that case what happens to the dream?
Any Government that sets up a system to be abused (in the legal sense) deserves all the backlash it gets. The student loan system is one of those genius ideas which has set everyone (apart from the students) up for certain failure.
In the two years since I left Uni I have accrued just over £400 worth of interest on about £17,000 worth of handouts. I know this because I think this is the first time in about 18 months I’ve remembered to check my online statement.
Going from studentdom to sole proprieter not much has changed income wise. Whilst my gross income is survivable, by the time I’ve claimed my business expenses and mileage costs I’m profiting less than half of what I need to hit the tax bracket. I know I’m not alone and it doesn’t bother me that I’m enjoying a relatively tax free haven.
Not that I think I’m owed anything by the system of course. Since I first went out to work at 18 I have only claimed job seekers for 6 months and have for the most of it enjoyed a comfortable income employed full time doing useful things. Except for my 3 years at Uni.
I would be overjoyed if I was in a financial position which allowed me to pay it off but I don’t. And I have more important things to worry about than handing back my hard earned cash to the Government so that someone else can take advantage of our system thanks to their terrible decisions.
Here’s How Entrepreneurs Really Fund Their Businesses | Inc.com – http://www.inc.com/paul-brown/here-8217-s-how-entrepreneurs-really-fund-their-businesses.html?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews
Hmmmm! I’ve been faffing around with an idea to start a business, to be honest I can get the basic marketing done for less than £100, I’ve spent £50 setting up the website, domain and email. I’ve got a target list of 100 companies, I’ve written 50 letters so far, but haven’t done the critical thing of having the cards and flyers printed for the mail shot.
I’ve procrastinated for seven weeks, seven weeks of lost opportunity.
Staying motivated and moving forward when you don’t have all the trappings of ‘normal life’ patterns can be tricky. Because if you fuck it up, you have noone but yourself to blame. If you go off tangent or lose your way you don’t have the excuses so many other people have – kids, mortgages, job commitments. These are all things that shouldn’t hold you back if you’ve chosen not to make them part of your life. I mean, you can do whatever you like right?
Unfortunately I lose enthusiasm and the older I’ve got the harder I’ve found it to bounce back when things go off kilter. I feel like I’ve lost my way and I’m having to go back and start from first base to remind myself what I was mean’t to be doing and how I used to feel.
By 40 I had moved countless times since I first left home at 18. It was a family joke – the list building up in my mum’s address book. But the joke has worn very thin. Each move now pushes me psychologically just a little closer to breaking point.
I’ve been married and divorced, tried some of my passions and had one career in the city. Now I am running my own business – doing the thing I have wanted so badly since I was 12 years old. It shows signs of being successful, but its failure will ultimately be up to me and my own motivation.
Currently it’s strangled by its location and that is my fault and noone elses. Because no matter how much we want to break out of the norm, sometimes you have to go with the crowd. And for me that looks like heading back to London.
I have frittered away a lot of my life sticking with things (mostly people) I shouldn’t have. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. I never put myself first in relationships, which, for someone who never wanted to settle down, is an odd concept. And it’s been very damaging because I am a bad judge of character and have in the past landed myself with the most inappropriate people.
I should have worked harder at being single, my own boss, and more selfish in my pursuits. But I didn’t. And I have now reached an age where if I don’t make some drastic changes I am going to fritter away whatever is left of the life I have. And that scares the crap out of me because my aim was always to ‘be somebody’.
I’ve made a plan because I am now in the enviable position of having nothing to stop me from doing exactly what I want. Firstly I am doing the unthinkable and moving back home to my family roots to regroup (my key phrase this season) and decide what I am going to do next. It is not supposed to be a long term option but it will give me breathing space without pressure or financial constraints. It comes with no strings attached, even though it is not my ideal solution.
And once I’ve had time to get my shit together, I am going to start on a new road. I don’t quite know where it’s going to take me or if uprooting my business for pastures new is going to be its saving grace. But I won’t know unless I try and I can’t see a better option.
My move has a build up. I have 5 months left on my current rental contract and that gives me time to finish up my commitments here, do my research and make new contacts so that when I move I don’t have time to sit back, mope and waste more valuable time.
I have relocated like this before, this is not an extreme in any sense, but I’ve never done it just for me. And that’s what feels strange. Because I am actually putting myself first. I don’t have a problem with it, it’s just a new experience.
I am back in the city. And that means my bicycle has come out of storage. But us cyclists face a myriad of problems.
It’s an offence to cycle on the pavement. Not many people seem to realise this, but it’s true. In Lincoln there are a lot of bikes and some cycle lanes. Except they are full of parked cars and pedestrians. Is it an offence to walk on the cycle lane?
Cycling on the road is the preferred method, but it irritates the hell out of some drivers and others are simply oblivious of our existence. And it’s not just the moving vehicles you need to watch for. Parked cars with doors that suddenly open as you’re riding past are a real danger. At best you get to stop in time, at worst you are flung under the wheels of a passing car. Not good. And then there is the shocking condition of our roads which sometimes feels like riding across a minefield.
Additionally pedestrians don’t see you either. They walk out into roads in front of you and suddenly appear from between parked cars. I’ve heard all sorts of abuse hurled at cyclists for using pavements, roads and cycle lanes. it’s a no win situation.
The best I can do is wear a cycle helmet, obey traffic lights, leave the headphones at home, and be incredibly alert and try to predict what others are doing on the road.