Pennies for Passion
On the age old question of money vs. art
by Calista Lynne
When people ask me what I’m studying, I tell them that I took the two most useless majors and combined them into an even more useless major. My mother doesn’t appreciate this self deprecating humor, but I’d rather make fun of myself for being an English and Drama major before the other person begins rolling their eyes. My prospects from this degree actually aren’t bad; I’ve already had positions in magazine publishing houses and major London theatres, but sometimes it’s okay to step back and realize I chose the programme that most closely resembles a glorified book club. With the addition of clown class. Doing what I love doesn’t mean I made a stupid decision, just one I’ll have to work harder at.
In regard to my novel, when people ask about that I get to tell them that I wrote about two female asexuals in a same sex relationship. It’s called We Awaken and is young adult magical realism.
Obviously money isn’t what drives most of the decisions I make in life.
There wasn’t a great market for novels with asexual protagonists because there wasn’t a market for that in general. It is so rare to find a character in the media that doesn’t experience sexual attraction, let alone one who is openly ace. My goal was simple: to write the novel I wish I had growing up. Something that would prove to young aces that they weren’t broken and explain the sexuality a bit better to those who don’t understand it. It’s not even their fault. The amount of ace discourse available is so minimal that I can accept people not knowing much about the sexuality.
Regardless of all this, I wrote the novel not knowing if it would ever even have an audience.
And then I sold it.
I see nothing wrong with being a sellout. People need money to survive and I applaud them for getting it however they need to. But I believe that by doing what you’re passionate about for long enough, you will eventually become so adept at it that it can turn a profit. Combat the stereotype of the starving artist by pouring your soul into all that art because eventually others will see that. Your art will start serving you. Audiences like honesty.
Because we live in a universe that plays by the law of survival of the fittest, money is the priority. Money is food and shelter and that is survival. No matter how much we may try, no one can sustain themselves on listening to slam poetry. But if you can use art to make money, then that is the ideal. If you are passionate enough about whatever it is you are creating, it will get made no matter what other jobs you are doing at the same time. When I was writing this novel, I worked as a boardwalk barker. Every day I’d shout out this same spiel of Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows over and over in front of a wheel game. Some of my greatest inspiration came from watching the world from my stand and being so near the beach. The world is out there and it wants your art.
So if you don’t see representation in literature, write it. Even if it’s a lesser known sexuality or another marginalized group. Being passionate about others hearing your message will make it that much more enticing to those who will be willing to help you along. And then you’ll never have to choose pennies over passion.
And if my novel of ladies loving ladies in a fantastical setting sounds of interest to you, here’s the synopsis:
Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.
But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.