Please Accept This Spider Drawing as Payment

Artists are basically fucked in America. They work their asses off, often all day and all night, spend heaps of money and thought on their craft and at the end of the month, they still have nothing with which to pay their water bills.

So can they flush their toilets? NOOOO!

One of the offspring in our house is leaning toward being talented in art– and now of course EVERYONE (teachers, etc) are like: “Oooh You are awesome! What a great drawing! You are so talented! How creative!”

This is such bullshit. Why? Because it’s a lie! They are all leading her on!

Meanwhile, the little boy she goes to pre-school with, who is a socially moronic weirdo with complete brainiac parents, can hardly talk. We all know where this is heading. He is going to be an outcast who comforts himself with video and computer games. And thus end up being the one who is “successful,” rolling in the dough some day.

I’ve been visiting scoutiegirl.com alot lately, and I love her blog. She’s got real chutzhpa, and her blog on creativity, mindful spending, and the handmade really capture the essence of a vibrant creative life. She is achieving the balance of artist and success-nerd.

Tara (the author) exudes a fearlessness in her career that I find both captivating and somewhat inhuman. Well, maybe what I mean is she seems to have those qualities to maintain business that escape so many artists.

Artists battle with not only their own personal esteem issues (everyday, everyhour, everymoment?) but also with the American cultural esteem issue– that $$$ is God. Consumer culture saves us all.

The “Bottom Line” Is Called that For  a Reason

So when artists — any kind of artist — begin to create, the innate cultural conversation always involves  the back-of-the-head whisper:

Who will want to consume this?

What value does my work have?

Can I sell it?

Will I be able to pay my bills?

And, undoubtedly, that cultural whisper changes the shape of their art.

I’ve Got No Adsense, at All

For all the years that I have written this blog, I have kept it ad-free. I signed up for a Google Adsense account a year ago, but never put ads on the pages. I wanted to, but something held me back.

I know about SEO. I’ve understood that the content of my experiential blog doesn’t suit the specified channel of ad sales.

I know that my few “reviews” on this blog are my best-read content. They are also my least favorite pieces to write.

I knew that if I wanted to watch the Adsense ticker go up, I’d have to change what I was doing here.

You can see I have put an ad space on top of the page, but it is empty.

That’s how I feel about tying ad sales to Letters from a Small State. I feel empty. Even though I know I deserve to be paid for my writing.

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

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  5 comments for “Please Accept This Spider Drawing as Payment

  1. July 15, 2010 at 8:52 am

    elizabeth, it’s such a pleasure getting to know you!

    you DO deserve to get paid for your writing. things that are beautiful & have a use inherently have monetary value. but you are SO right that advertising is not the way to do it. there are many other WAY better ways to make money doing what you love. i hope you find one (or a few!) that works for you 🙂

  2. July 15, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I totally am with you on this. However, I have adsense – but my LIFETIME earnings (almost 5 years!) are just over $37. And you can’t cash in the earnings till you reach $100. At this rate, it will be around 2020 before I get paid anything.

    If you have a lot of followers, you might fare better than I.

    But the basic thing remains – few are willing to pay for art. (Your writings are more art than mine!)

    Some people employ a “tip jar” where people can pay something via PayPal for their enjoyment of a blog. I haven’t gone that route – yet.

  3. July 15, 2010 at 9:50 am

    So you are saying that MY adsense will not make me a millionaire? COME ON SWEETIE! I’ve had 496,000 hits and I DID get my $100 check in the mail!! YEA – it is like free money rolling in every . . . 5 or 6 years!!

    How did I get that $100 so fast? THANK YOU JOHNNY DEPP for coming to my little town!

    I think the way to make major money is begging or holding a certain letter as a hostage.

    For instance – If you do not send me $1 within the next week – I will no longer use the letter “a” in any post. That will get people attention all right.

  4. Marty
    July 16, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    You are “paid” as many of us are: In the knowledge that sometimes sharing thoughts, words, images, creativity, music, experiences, performance, conversation, dreams, hopes and humor… You make the world a better place.
    John & I are living our dream, are poor, but are living very happy lives now. He creates art every day. I help people feel better – every day.
    You do both.
    Thanks!

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