Let’s face facts, not everyone can make a living out of their “dreams” – most have to settle for something a little less stellar.
Not everyone can be a successful writer, singer, actor, artist, whatever. Even if you have the talent, the breaks don’t always exist, opportunity doesn’t always knock, and sometimes, even when it does knock, you don’t answer – maybe you’re afraid of taking the leap, maybe the sacrifices would be too great, maybe a lot of things.
Some are idealistic (and they’re usually either very young, very inexperienced, or have no interest in anything other than “concrete” sciences and occupations). To these idealistic souls, it’s a cut and dry thing: If you have talent, then you can get the jobs and fulfill your dream. Fail to do so and it means you don’t have talent.
I’ve known plenty of incredibly talented individuals who were not “living their dreams” and the reasons had nothing to do with lack of talent.
Similarly, the cries of “selling out” are bandied anytime some reasonably talented person opts to leverage their talent into a more lucrative, but perhaps less artistically pure, occupation.
Folks gotta eat. The rent’s gotta get paid.
So the incredible musician who opts to do nameless, uncredited studio work is accused of selling out, just as are his brethren who choose to make a commercial recording, appealing to the many instead of the few.
The writer who pays the bills by writing ad copy is pimping herself; so is the author who elects to write a trashy best-seller rather than a more serious piece.
So, let me get this straight – According to these folks, unless you are suffering for your talent, using your talent in a non-commercial way, or at least, if you are using it commercially, you’re apologetic about it and make sure it’s social conscious, morally responsible, and critically acclaimed, but not widely received otherwise, you’re “selling out.” And these same folks will say that unless you are able to achieve that success, you haven’t the talent to begin with.
Wait a minute. That seems awfully contradictory now, doesn’t it?
Of course it does!
And such is the nature of art.
Many genuine artists in their craft simply can’t afford to take the risk- they can’t give up the regular paycheck in order to devote more time to their craft, and rely on the sometimes (often) irregular pay of freelance work.
Most workers know from whence and when their next paycheck comes. They usually even have a good idea of how much it will be. No such luxury exists for the freelancer in any genre. Who knows when the next gig, assignment, etc will come? Unless you’re talented, lucky and ambitious enough to be earning royalties on some work (oh wait, royalties would mean a commercial work, that’s selling out remember?) you just don’t know how much is coming in and when.
Of course, the artistic type could always simply give up, since they haven’t gotten the breaks, they obviously haven’t the “right stuff” and should “not give up their day jobs.” Or they could do what many do – they take a commercially lucrative job in a related field and pursue their passion as a “hobby.”
Selling out? I don’t think so! It’s called “surviving.”