Selfish

Quality vs. QuantityWe, artists, make art for ourselves just as much as we do to please someone. Or everyone. And we also make art because we can, because we feel like it, because we’re bored or tired or we just want o make something beautiful. We make art for a million different reasons.

Sadly, I don’t write for you, whoever you may be. And even sadder, I don’t really give a damn what you think about my stories or essays or even blog posts. That’s how things go. I write for myself, I write because it’s the one thing that makes me happy, no matter how cold it is outside.

Let me tell you one thing. If you keep wondering whether people will like your art, if you believe that others have to validate you as an artists, you’ll never be free to do what you want. As an artist, of course.

It’s quite simple. Art for art’s sake, like they say. Art because it matters to you, not because you hope it would matter to someone else.

And yes, it’s never as simple as that, and I’m sure there are at least a dozen posts on this blog about the importance of finding an audience, of finding true fans, and all that. I remember writing that you can’t call yourself a writer unless you’re being read, I remember writing that we write hoping for our words to matter to someone other than ourselves, but in the end, we shouldn’t care and it shouldn’t be a requirement for one to be an artist.

“There is no part of me that feels that I represented myself as your children’s babysitter or their teacher. I was always, I think, completely honest. I’m a writer, and I will write what I want to write.” J.K. Rowling

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27 comments on “Selfish

  1. Thanks so much for this post. Your words matter and I agree with you!

  2. scanlonfeed says:

    The hope that others validate your hobbies would be vanity as much as doing things for yourself may be selfish. No?

    In the same vein, writing off *everyones’ opinions would be a folly as well. Just a thought.

    I do it for myself first moreso because if I worried about validation I’d probably give up quickly. With this attitude it’s not so serious a hobby.

  3. Lovely expose of our inner dialogue… thank you!
    Self-ish or Self-ull
    inward or outward
    words become art
    art becomes words
    each compelling
    the other to become
    manifest

  4. So true. Writing, is increasingly being transformed into a ‘business’, rather than practised as a form of art.

  5. That is what makes you an artist. Not the fact that you’re selfish, but that you are brave enough to get your point of view out there, without caring if it offends anyone or anyone else’s approval.

  6. Mo says:

    Find art in yourself rather than finding yourself in art

  7. melirose3 says:

    I like this =) It’s good to be reminded. Thanks

  8. I agree with your piece completely. I don’t care if anyone reads, let alone likes what I write. I write only for me, I am a selfish man that way. I don’t write for money. I write for the craft of writing. The idea of building a fan base is the farthest thing from my mind.

    Because I am this way, I feel my writing has improved and has grown for now I am writing what I want to write and not what I thought someone might like.

    Excellent article!

  9. Vidhya says:

    This is not selfishness, it is Self-ness.

  10. Creativity is like mushrooms or mold – it’ll ooze out of you if you leave it alone for too long.

  11. annaethain says:

    I have just printed this out, read it to a group of students and put it up on my classroom wall. So true.

  12. wizki says:

    Christian, I agree with you for the most part–you certainly cannot/should not be a writer if you don’t love it through and through, and if you don’t do it for yourself! On the non-professional level, where somebody is just giving his or her stories out to friends (me, for example), it’s fine not to give a damn what others think. But professional writers have to. As much as J.K. Rowling might say “I write for myself,” she has become a huge force in the market and publishers, understandably, won’t let her leave HP alone. Given how prolific and passionate you are, I assume you know that! “Art for art’s sake” is a great idea(l), but won’t move any mountains professionally. ;-) You believe in yourself and want to showcase your craft, so much so that you have a website devoted to your writing and reflections where you sell your stuff. So, for your sake, I do hope you give a damn. Just my two cents!

  13. 2anonymous4u says:

    Right to the point and on point. Nice!

  14. Totally agree with this post. A great encouragement to me.

  15. Shepherdess of Stars Amy says:

    Art is self-expression, and also, art should uplift souls, not degrade them…an oft-ignored true function of art. Thanks for the apt reminders in your post.

  16. I love your post! Very interesting!

  17. What a great reminder. I am a feedback junkie, and have recently come to the realization that although it is always great to hear other people’s opinions, I need to be very careful that they don’t seep over into my original artistic impulses. Thanks for the perfectly timed post!

  18. jan says:

    well, what can i say? everything you said here is spot on!

    thank you for sharing.

  19. simplyroger says:

    I needed to read that. Thank you.

  20. That reminds me of Master Shakespeare who wrote not for the world, but for himself. Little was he appreciated in his time, but did that affect his writing? NO.
    You see, the light cannot be hidden for long. Such was his work that unveiled itself from beneath the dark covers to brighten many of our souls.

  21. Michael says:

    I write because I have to. To NOT write makes me miserable because I am suppressing a gift that requires expression. I do it not so much to be happy (although that is a vital corollary) but to prevent sadness and pain, which is what makes it a corollary. Happiness is just a byproduct of “not sad.” When I write and others find it worthwhile, then I like that too because I feel that I may have added something to someone’s life — if only for a moment. I certainly don’t publish it online just for myself. That would be too much like narcissism for me. I keep a journal for purely private expressions.

    I am making this article a topic for an article in my own blog which will feature my response here. You will be linked and credited by the article itself and your blog in general.

  22. I enjoy your writing and admire your goals, strengths, and perseverance. I like to write for myself too, but before graduation last Dec., I did not have one professor who encouraged us to write for ourselves. All emphasized that we write for–the reader first and foremost, since he or she is the buyer of our work. For me, I just write as I choose, but I always remember to write for the reader too. It’s really a process of storytelling. Good luck in your writing endeavors..

  23. Vonnie says:

    Good for you Cristian! Go J.K.! love the quote

  24. Brilliantly said. I agree. I write & paint for the way it makes me feel. If someone likes what I offer, that is a bonus. Thanks for the great read.

  25. This reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s prelude to The Picture of Dorian Gray!

    ‘Art for arts sake’ and ‘all art is quite useless’!

    I am focusing my dissertation on Art and homosexuality and your post was thought-provoking. Thanks

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