It happened again:
Today at a school a 5th grader asked-
"When all is said and done, what's more important to you- getting money or being creativity."
I'll tell you what I said to him in a moment.
But first I want you to know that I have a purpose in presenting the issue of artists and writers acquiring income when talking to kids. It's my belief that there is a real disconnect in our culture regarding those who choose a creative vocation and many of those who choose something else. For many reasons, we as a society seem to insist that our creatives remain "pure" and not concern ourselves with worries of money. If a creative should discuss money, we tend to lump her/him into a slimy category of all those others who give up their their virtue for gold- such as drug dealers and money-launderers. The crazy part of this is that, if we, as creatives, actually buy into this societal "money-versus-creativity" trap (e.g. starving artist is good, thriving artist is false) why is it that we don't demand that our culture support us? I mean, somebody's got to foot the bill for all the wonderfulness we bring into the world, right? For instance, we could demand that society give all creatives tax abatements, free housing, free chocolate, free lunch meats even, etc.? If things were managed this way then creatives could be über-creative (maybe) and yet never have to sully our pristine selves with dirty dollars. Still a crappy situation but at least we'd get free chocolate and lunch meats. Until we accept that being creative is as natural a vocation as any other (requiring hard work, sensibility, discipline and, dare I say it, a desire to pay the rent on time), then we shouldn't complain when we get paid a pittance and find ourselves stuffed into a cramped box.
And that's why I talk about how I make money to kids. Because it's good for them to know that working as an artist is a job like any other.
So, my answer to the 5th grader?
The 3rd graders up front didn't like my response.
"That's not an answer!" they hollered.
I smiled and did another drawing for them, then gave the sketch to one of the kids.
I also smiled and thanked the media specialist when I was handed my honorarium check.