Making Art, not widgets...

I had a great conversation with an amazing writer friend this morning and we were talking about how to balance the writing with the joe jobbing. Joe jobbing, I just learned is a Canadian term my friends who are artists and I use, to describe the type of job that one does in between their gigs and big paydays. It comes from the term, "ordinary Joe", like a real person, with a real job. But I realized in explaining it today that it really isn't accurate, as writing, painting, dancing, acting, working as an artist...these are all jobs too. Real jobs, done by real people, with very real expectations of making a living doing them.

Art is a huge part of our lives and it needs to be valued and supported and it can't be if we keep thinking of it as a luxury that gets to be done in between, or on the side, like some kind of hobby. My friend and I agreed that nothing infuriates us more than telling someone what we do, only to have them say, "I would love to write a book too, if only I had the time", as if time was the only thing required. It's just time, not hard work or skill, or patience, or years and years spent crafting one's skills through trial and error. I know actors get this too, and painters often here, "oh, I could've painted that!"...which is so infuriating. I would never assume that I could just do what someone else does for a living!

I remember hearing that a man came up to the famous Canadian writer Margaret Atwood at a party and asked her what she did, and when she told him he said, "oh, when I retire from surgery, I am gonna write a book," to which she replied..."oh, when I retire from writing, I am gonna operate on people." This still makes me laugh. Sometimes all the juggling gets frustrating. And I know this is now more true for so many people regardless of what they do for a living.

I got this painting from my neighbor David Friedman...it is titled..."Warning! You are entering an Art Zone!" I have put it in the hallway that leads to my office, and this other smaller one of his, inside my office, so that on days like today, when I am feeling spread too thin and wondering what the hell it is I am doing...I can look up and be reminded, I am not making widgets.


lynn said...

what a great painting!
before our food blog venture, christy and i hosted a podcast called "actors off," about what actors do when they're not working. i think there's a stigma that our "off time" is not considered work, when really every little thing we do is work, isn't it - from what we read and put in our bodies....

Gina Sorell said...


I here ya...so true.

I gotta say those picture you take on your blog are art! They make me drool :)

Caroline said...

OH my God, I have so much to say. First, where'd you get that wonderful hat one posting down? I want one. Second, I know and feel your pain. I just wrote about this, too. You are right, art does need to be respected and valued, and I am so tired of people thinking we have it so easy because we do not have "real jobs." I always wonder why they do not see the 16 drafts, the having to work on top of our work to stay afloat, the persistence and focus required to stay on one project sometimes for four or five or six years. There is an American Idol mentality--people think they can whip out a draft ad become famous. Sigh and alas! Thanks for writing about this. it is so, so important.

Anna said...

Hey Gina
How true your comments are, people do not take art seriously! Keep on doing what you do best! I know how hard you guys work and I know how talented you are. Love Margaret Atwood's comments. I know what it is like when everyone thinks they can do what you do! Like working at what you do for 20+ years means nothing!
Big hugs from Toronto
ps I love the hat as well!!
Anna & Chris

Gina Sorell said...

Thanks Caroline!!

I know, that you know this conversation all too well. You are such a warrior for all of us writers!
Notice how there is no American Idol for Authors??? That show would take years!!!

And Anna and Chris- Thank you!!
You must get it all the time...the "oh I can do your job" thing. Ugh. Thanks for being so supportive. Big hugs right back at ya.


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