Art and Happiness

You have a choice between giving your work you best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot–and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy.

That’s from Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. Part of the reason I like it so much is that it talks about happiness and art. How often does that happen? People are always talking about suffering for their art, and the suffering, poverty-stricken, drug- or alcohol-addicted artist cliche is everywhere.

And check out this post by Alex Bledsoe, The Rare Ingredient: Joy, where he talks about writers’ joy in the act of writing showing through and argues against:

…the idea of the Tortured Artist, a cliche so insidious and romantic that many beginning writers assume that if they’re not miserable, they’re doing it wrong.

I’ve had the thought that I’m not suffering enough in my life right now to have material worth writing. Of course, when there is true suffering in my life, it’s damn hard to write anything at all.

I’d like to see/read a lot more books and articles about joy and happiness in the pursuit of art to try to counteract the believe in the connection between pain and art.

For a while, I was so grimly determined to finish the project I was working on that it wasn’t fun. Now “What is the FUN thing to do?” is the question guiding my current project.

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