19 August 2009

Embracing That Damn Cake

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

I was thinking about that oft-confusing adage recently while perusing the Emmy award nominees list, which got me thinking about all awards, which got me thinking about publishing...and here I am.

How did I connect the two? Well, it was a very complicated train of thought, but here's the gist:

We all want to win awards and become famous and find fortune, but we want to achieve all that while doing whatever we want. I believe we call it "expressing ourselves."

But, there are certain genres, certain styles, certain concepts that are award-winning material (or have mass appeal, or make tons of money), and those that aren't (and never will). For the Oscars it's gain-thirty-pounds-and-sob-on-camera performances and make-the-audience-think-while-depressing-them-to-the-point-of-needing-a-therapist storylines, mostly. And no matter how beloved the "Ocean's" movies and Brad Pitt's Rusty were, they were never going to win Oscars.

Does that mean Soderbergh should have turned the projects down? That Angie should have threatened to leave Brad if he reprised his role for the nth time? Yeah, right.

My point is: why do authors (and creative types of all kinds) so often feel the urge to complain when their "thing" isn't given its due credit? Like short story authors who complain that they're just under-appreciated, or YA authors who bemoan the negative stereotypes that accompany the genre.

To those authors, and to comedians and indie rock bands, I say this: you can either do what you love and roll with it. Or you can do what is loved and be awarded.

Have your cake, or eat it, people. You can't do both. There's no sense in arguing with physics, and I really don't want to hear you try.

PS - Yes, I fully intend to ignore the fact that my last post was almost three months ago. Except for this post script, which is acknowledging it...


Kat said...

I almost agreed with this - almost. But some people do manage it. Neil Gaiman comes to mind, J. K. Rowling, even -- and I'm gagging here -- Stephenie Meyer.

Hold on, killing myself.

Okay. Back.

For some people, what is loved just happens to be what they love, or they're good enough at what they love to make it appeal to other people too. I know they're not the point of this entry -- the point is being comfortable doing what you love even if you don't think/already know you won't get praise for it. But I'm of the firm, uncharacteristically optimistic belief that if you want something badly enough, and are willing to work hard enough to get it, you can.

Or if you write a really horrible vampire novel with public appeal.

And we're back to killing ourselves now.

E. Van Lowe said...

Welcome back, Sam.

I know it's tough, but I think we have to be happy with being creative. That's the cake AND the meal. I'm not a big fan of awards. I've been close to winning a few really big awards. I think awards are nice, but it's way better to have the satisfaction of creating something that YOU like, and that finds an audience--no matter how small. For a long, long time I wanted to make my living as a writer. I wanted it really badly. Now I do. I try to be happy with that. If you do what you love, isn't that having your cake AND eating it?

Samantha Elliott said...

Kat said it when she said, "...the point is being comfortable doing what you love even if you don't think will/already know you won't get praise for it."

I think there are a few exceptions who make it big doing what they love, and I couldn't be happier for (or more jealous of) them. But, I've been seeing a lot of chatter lately about certain genres being pigeon-holed, or certain styles being ignored. While that may be the case, if those are the genres and styles you love, who cares? Do your best and try to be happy with that; the rest may follow, or may not, but at least you'll be happy!