V is for Vigilance


by Lillian Csernica on April 25, 2013

Many people do not understand those of us who choose to make our living through some form of art. Such people measure our success by how much money we do or do not make. They’ve got it backward. Sure, monetary success is great, but those of us who have suffered through the creative process and really understand the toll it takes know how to see things the right way around.

We don’t get paid for our art. We pay for the privilege of creating it.

Dancers sweat. Actors may start out as part of the stage crew while they work their way up to starring roles. Sculptors and potters and people who work in “found art” do exactly that: physical labor, over and over again, until what they’re creating matches the vision in their minds.

What about writers? We pay attention. Think about that. John Philpot Curran said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” I say eternal vigilance is also the price of inspiration. Writers keep their eyes and ears open and their notebooks handy. We write down whatever image, scrap of conversation, or burst of intuitive plotting that pops into mind. Then we begin the complex process of growing a complete story or novel from those little seeds.

People talk about the writer’s Muse. She demands payment in attention, observation, vigilance. The Muse doesn’t just drop an idea on our desks all gift-wrapped and pretty. She often points the way toward someone or something that could be useful to us. She’s like a consultant, and consultants don’t come cheap.

Keep alert for all the beauties and dangers and oddities and funny moments and sorrows of the world. Paying attention is the start of how we writers pay our dues.

Be vigilant!

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8 Comments

Filed under Blog challenges, Fiction, Writing

8 responses to “V is for Vigilance

  1. I need to share this with my husband. He doesn’t quite understand why I want to write (for no pay, as of right now) rather than work as a Paralegal for an actual paycheck. I just can’t help it. I need to write.

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  2. Great post, really appreciate it. I find myself keeping odd scraps of paper and jotting things all the time, exasperated if I couldn’t write down that line I overheard in time. A friend said that if you judge an artist’s success by the money he/she makes, then Van Gogh would have been a failure as an artist.

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  3. I have just restarted the habit of jotting down notes, you are right it’s not about the money

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  4. Good post, Lillian. I never quite thought about it that way, but it makes perfect sense. 🙂

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