Go Get A Job (You Bum)

Go Get A Job


“My eyes would say: thank you, I see you.”
“And their eyes would say: nobody ever sees me, thank you.”
~Amanda Palmer

The deepest human need is one of connection ~ feeling like we belong, not only in our environment but also with other people. The same atoms (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc.) that form the earth can also be found in us. So you see, even at the most basic level, we really are all connected.

In her excellent TED video (below), musician Amanda Palmer beautifully articulates that powerful human need for connection while at the same time validating the role of the artist as fostering that deep connection with their audience.

What I loved about this video, too, was how she talked about feeling shameful when she was offering her art and personal connection on a sidewalk in exchange for money. Someone driving past (& not part of the exchange) yelled, “Get a job!” That, Palmer said, made her feel ashamed of what she was offering to people and it made her fear that what she was doing wasn’t job-like.

I say all that to say this: I often think that too, that I should go get a “real” job, one that actually pays me a steady salary. I think it more often than I’d like to admit. Because writing fiction, for me at least, pays very little (yet!) if you just look at the financial numbers. And that’s what people like that guy driving past look at, that’s what’s important to people like them. Sadly, that’s what’s important to a lot of people.

What they don’t see is the connection that’s happening between the artist and the receiver of that art, the connection that says “I see you,” the connection that makes us a little bit closer and a little less lonely. As a writer, I show you how I see the world; as a reader you encourage me to keep going. And even if I never meet you or know your name, now we’re connected at least a little bit. We’ve both fostered the humanity between us.

It’s important work that we’re doing, creating art, and learning to trust people with the little parts of ourselves that we infuse into our work. Palmer argues that when we actually see each other, we want to help each other. I believe that’s true.

As human beings, we are already connected. It’s the artist’s job to remind all of us of that, remind us deep down in our souls where it matters most.

Do you believe in the connecting power of art?

16 thoughts on “Go Get A Job (You Bum)”

  1. Alice Huskisson

    A great post Shelli! Speaking as one who was made redundant after 28 years of service, turned to writing to keep my mind positively focussed whilst I searched for work, and still out of work 2 years later, I found your post somewhat eased the guilt I feel every day. I do feel an extra heavy burden of guilt during dry periods where my book THE MAN IN A HAYSTACK doesn’t sell. This has happened recently (Feb/March). Times like this make me question why I’m bothering pouring my heart and soul in to my work, but a lovely review, some good private feedback, random appreciative tweets from strangers, a sale here and there, connecting with new like-minded people (yourself for instance), reminds me why I chose this path and gives me the buzz and ooomph to persevere.

    1. Hi Alice! *waves*

      I’m so sorry you lost you’re job & still don’t have another. I’m so glad though that this post eased your guilt. That’s what watching Amanda’s video did for me, made me feel better about being an artist. I’ve finally come to the conclusion (recently & sometimes I still have to remind myself) that I’m pouring my heart & soul into my work for me; that way it doesn’t matter if it sells or if it doesn’t, I’m still happy. 🙂 I’m glad we’ve connected so we can give each other support to persevere. Cheers, darlin.

  2. I do believe in the connecting power of art. I studied art in school, I write now and I’m the parent of inspiring musicians and artists. Amanda is amazing and I really enjoyed her story.

    1. Hi Gail!

      I’m so happy to meet another writer! Yay! And it’s fabulous that your children are artists too (& they have a mom who understands & supports them). 🙂

  3. Thanks for confirming the contributions of artists and the need for interaction between them and those who value their work!
    As always, a great post 😀

  4. Thanks for the insight. I definitely know that we are all connected and art is such a wonderful expression that reminds us of this.

  5. Shelli,
    First, love the TED talks, view them regularly, second yes, I do believe people can, and do connect through art. Without it, our world would be a joyless, gray palette.

    When something speaks to you, when you love it, you want to share it. I’ve recommended Small as a Mustard Seed, to everyone I know, it resonated with me. Keep up the excellent work, you make a difference – we all do. [hugs always].

    1. Hi lovely Sandy!

      It’s so true that our world would be a joyless, gray place without art. And thank you so much for the fab compliment & for recommending my book, it does my heart good to hear it. 🙂 It’s so true that we all make a difference & that’s going to be a post sometime in the future because too many people think they don’t matter. *hugs* back & *heart*

  6. That is absolutely my favorite TED talk. Amanda Palmer is one of the bravest persons I know.

    Art connects many ways. There is a connection between artists and the ones who see the art, but also between people who are listening music, reading books or seeing actors. ..art helps me to connect with myself. It raises feelings and thoughts. .. and I think important part of art is to kick us and make us think.

    1. Hi Rami!

      I’ve seen a few TED talks & this one was my favorite too. Amanda is absolutely fierce & I loved her for that. Thank you for bringing up that art helps connect you with yourself because I didn’t really mention that, but it’s absolutely true. I’m a believer that art can save your life, make you change your mind, set you on a new path. Thanks so much for your insight! 🙂

  7. Really touching post, Shelli. You are right, we are connected to artist in some small way though our appreciation of their work. TED talks are awesome. Listen to them while working. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Carlana!

      Thanks so much for the fab compliment. Made me smile this afternoon. 🙂 I love TED talks, too. I always learn something or get inspired by them. Cheers!

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