Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.
― Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
So, I read a lot of Seth Godin’s writing lately. Admittedly this had more to do with my job rather than my writing. Seth writes extensively about being indispensable in the workplace (yuk, yuk, I know).
But for those of us who still have to make sure to bag a monthly pay cheque as we work tirelessly to generate enough income with our writing to quit our day jobs, understanding how to stand out from a crowd of grey office workers matters quite a lot.
However, I found an unexpected nugget of wisdom around the idea of art as a gift and the notion that a gift must be freely given and freely received to qualify as such.
As soon as I started to think of my writing as art, a slight bout of anxiety whipped through me as the weight of Seth’s words began to sink in. If my writing is art and art is a gift and a gift must be free, then can it also be a product that I market and sell?
Product or gift? Product or gift? Commerce or art? The familiar voices of my demons started whispering in my ear.
Ah yes, the old question: commerce or art?
Luckily, Seth has the answer to this right here on the net – in the form of a blog post. You see, free doesn’t make something a gift.
A gift costs the giver something real. It might be cash (enough that we feel the pinch) but more likely it involves a sacrifice or a risk or an emotional exposure. A true gift is a heartfelt connection, something that changes both the giver and the recipient.
― Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog: Gifts, misunderstood
Suddenly I feel great again. Like many of you indies out there, I work hard. My writing costs me plenty of blood, sweat, and tears – mainly sweat and tears with the occasional nosebleed.
Thinking about all the emotional stuff I go through – the self-doubts the negative self-talk, the stress, the despair when I hit writer’s block – I smile. Commerce AND art it is.