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Tiah Beautement

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Write Life Part 3: Liked vs Loved

This is a short series on trying to find the Write Life: click to read Part 1 or Part 2.

I read Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, recently. In it, she talks about an artist who was getting a ton of likes on YouTube. Loads. The artist’s work was popular, people were watching, glad to have that work in their lives. That is, until the artist tried to crowdsource for funding in order to turn the art into something more tangible than a YouTube video. I believe the artist raised around 45US dollars. People liked the artist’s work, but it was not loved. It takes a certain love before people will pay. I read that scene in Palmer’s book and thought: Bingo, my problem in a nutshell.

Love is not always necessary. There are things I do because they are part of who I am, regardless if I have a flair for it. Writing, for example. Yes, I prefer it when publishers want to publish me. Yes, I prefer it when people read my work and enjoy it. But if these chronic conditions have taught me anything in life, it is that I write for me, first. I have, in the past, tried to peruse more lucrative writing gigs and taken a stab at writing for that elusive market. The only things I achieved with those stunts was a pile of rejections, braces and permanent damage to one of my wrists. But when the days came to stop living life as I once had, giving up most of what I used to do, I discovered that writing was a part of me, even if it hurt. I can’t even say writing is something I love or enjoy. But I know I’m not me without it and I am willing to risk a lot to keep doing it, even if nobody is reading.

Dedication sometimes requires a bit of love, however. There is an activity has eaten a ton of my time, cost me money and earned a lot of like. People were delighted with what I was doing, as long as it was on par with that artist on YouTube: free. Yes, I had my 45dollars of love, from a few souls. But overall, there was like and no love from the greater world. Which wasn’t a big deal, at first. Again, not everything I do needs to be loved or appreciated by others. That is, until:

  • I was getting too tired.
  • Some people said that if I ever found to time to do this other idea they’d pay me. Even better, this other idea wouldn’t take up quite as much of my time.

 

Putting it that way, it would seem the decision would have been no-brainer. But life is rarely so simple as two bullet points. In addition to a number of other factors, I’d invested a lot of my energy into a something that had touched lives. It is hard to call such a project off, even when exhausted, fed up and news that my latest funding idea had fallen through. Liked is still something and that something had felt good. Also, I was cautious about the enthusiasm of this other idea. I’ve learned over the years that just because people say they’ll pay for something, doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily pony up once the goods are produced.

The process of reaching the final decision was gradual and involved a number of events. One of which was being able to drive myself to Cape Town and back, for the first time in four frustrating years. That felt good. I love the freedom. Independence. But I know from my past, that I am running on borrowed time. If I keep working at the intensity I have been, all my hard work to regain my life – hold car keys without dropping them, cut up my own food, drive 5 hours and back – will start slipping away, all over again. As it is, I still can’t consistently walk my dogs or jog, surfing is totally gone, my time at the piano is a joke and I considered it an amazing week if I’ve managed to knit a row or two at a scarf that, after four months, might finally be long enough to wrap around the neck of a Smurf.

I’d rather try to stay as healthy as is possible while living my life. I’d rather look into things that might pay. I’d rather have a bit more time for writing. So I made the change. There is guilt. Overall, however, I know the change is necessary if I’m ever going to find the Write Life.

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