Part-time realities

Why was I even thinking of making art in an empty studio-type apartment with just a typewriter and all the novelties of writers my age (that Brooklyn flat, that printer-scanner-camera combo)? Well, Le Tigre / MEN band member J.D. Samson's confessional proved us wrong. "I am so lucky that I have been able to create art and music and fulfill my passions through my job," she begins. "But I'm stupid enough to have put all my eggs in one basket."

I wish I had practical skills. The part where she said she doesn't know anything about Excel, or waiting tables, made me feel miserable: beyond capitals of the world and book titles, I know nothing. I should have been street-smart, but I still feel nervous about bank transactions, and many other things like interest rates, credit cards, insurance. I should have waited tables to learn how to value money. Right now I'd gladly accept a summer job at Wendy's. (Honestly, too, I just like the idea of working at Wendy's because of free burgers!)

There's passion for what you're doing--yes, that's important. But these days, one needs time and an open space; these two which costs exorbitant amounts, if not, in the case of a haciendero or an iridero, easily inherited. (Read Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, which, if I may wrap it up in a sentence, says something about the necessity for a writer to have a room of his/her own.)

To become an artist in the Philippines is probably worse, really: the job is underappreciated, frowned upon. There are few museums, fewer art programs, and a lack of publishing companies for writers and poets. Though this is the gist of independent publishing and counter-culture measures (say, cheaper venues: house party-cum-art gallery, sidewalk exhibits, small-scale fairs dependent on charity and goodwill), these measures are not meant to stay. Rather, it acquaints us with the harsh realities of artists as something more or less in the poverty line.

This issue seemed very important since the entire thing has been brewing in me as days pass, and the need for a job becomes more pressing. I've been trying to read more essays than stories, since essays, I think, have more practical leanings. Now I know that to become an artist, whatever that means these days, is to know that you couldn't be a full-pledged one, except, maybe, Gertrude Stein.