“Why does trash get so much attention?”

Disclaimer: This article is NOT meant to criticize or insult any particular genre of art, music, etc. or any particular artist; I’m here to relay information about a pattern of opinions that I don’t believe are helpful to building community in the creative world.

Today, I want to open up about the more resentful thoughts that can invade the headspace of other writers, musicians, and other creators. Admittedly, I’ve wrestled with these in my writing and music career, so I wanted to talk about them now.

You may have heard some of these before.

“Why is all the popular music these days just mass-produced, soulless, and a clear abuse of autotune, while smaller musicians with more talent get drowned out by the radio brainwashing?”

“Why is a banana duct-taped to a wall being treated as fine art, while artists who work hard on their skill never get famous?” (I am fully aware this particular case was an act of trolling, but my point still stands. There’s actually a good article on the banana by GQ, which you can find here)

“Why are all these problematic YouTubers getting millions of subscribers, while the wholesome, smaller content creators get steamrolled by the dreaded algorithm?”

“Why are poorly written books with plots as hole-y as Swiss cheese snapped up without question by publishers and fans, while quality works get rejected?”

To boil it all down: why is so-called “trashy” stuff getting so much attention they may not deserve?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of a mythical past of [Insert Creative Industry Here] denying what is Truly Art™ and welcoming in the soulless, corporate-minded mass-produced “trash” that is pushed onto us on repeat. I’m willing to bet smaller artists felt the exact same way about Elvis Presley or Charles Dickens back in their respective time periods. On one hand, it can be frustrating when something like writing or music (something I for one take very seriously and put a lot of my passion into) seems to be oversaturated with people who don’t seem to take it as seriously, and even may be doing for a quick cash grab. I personally wouldn’t even think of publishing a novel without revising, editing—through an editor or otherwise—and enlisting the help of beta and sensitivity readers, so it grinds my gears so badly when some writers don’t seem to do that, and they achieve massive success. On the other hand, the sheer quantity at which these artists are producing allows them to compound their income—also, I have no room to judge because they’re published and I’m not. It’s tempting to resent the artists that we perceive as opportunistic, talentless, and undeserving of fame, and put ourselves on a pedestal that, to put it bluntly, is more than a bit sanctimonious.

Where there is a business system, there will be people who find ways to make the system work for them, even if they’re in it for money and fame rather than passion for their art. It’s a harsh reality that in our world, quantity works better for a lucrative career than quality, and popular and predictable tends to sell. That doesn’t minimize how frustrating it can be if you put hours and hours of skill into your craft and it gets looked over for something that seems slapped together in comparison, but it nonetheless needs to be accepted. If we want to focus on quality rather than quantity, that’s fine, but we also have to accept that comes at a cost (figuratively and literally).

I also need to remind myself of the fact that, as much as I don’t want to hear this, I’m not entitled to success if my art gets published or released. It would be nice, but a successful writing career, for example, is not something I “win” because I was a good little writer and tied up my loose ends, wrote dynamic, round characters, and used the Oxford comma. On a more positive note, however, success for another writer doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of success for me; this can allow for artists to lift each other up, rather than tear each other down. I write and post my YouTube videos because I have nothing to gain if I don’t release them, and it’s something I like to do. Sometimes, I feel what little new and exciting material I do have to offer will get lost in the noise of the Internet, and it’s then that I have to remind myself why I create, and that there is room for all of us.

Have you dealt with this feeling before? How have you handled it? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

 

A Maiden Fair (Poetry)

I linger at the hawthorn tree

and beg you not to follow;

I know who may be waiting

under the enchanted canopy.

I long for their rescue

from this dark, wicked world

and for the whispers in the earth

to beckon me home,

where I will finally belong.

 

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Creativity in the face of COVID-19

These past few months have been chaotic with news of the coronavirus COVID-19, and I hope everyone is staying safe and self-quarantining for their safety and the safety of others around them. So far, I’m okay, I’m self-quarantining, and since one of my day jobs is already online and the second job is going to be remote also, so far, it’s been business as usual. Meanwhile, I’ve seen a lot of posts on my Facebook and Instagram about people making things during their isolation, and honestly, as much as I want (and have tried) to join in, I’ve felt such a creative block during this time.

To be fair, there are people saying that there’s no pressure to be productive, and I’ve heard and appreciated those voices. It’s not surprising to me that some people are having a lot of anxiety about this, and it’s important to validate those feelings; I’ve never seen a global health crisis like this in my lifetime, so I understand fear of the unknown is a thing. On top of that, spring is always a chaotic time for my headspace (I’m convinced that if I were a member of the Faerie Courts, I’d be one of the Autumn or Winter Court because spring and summer are a nightmare for me), and creating while running on nervous energy doesn’t allow for results that I’m satisfied with. Even though I personally want to keep making things so I can have some structure to my schedule, I don’t want to pressure myself into being creative when anxiety is taking up my mental bandwidth.

In case you need to hear it, regardless of whether you want to create or don’t want to create, it’s okay. This is a trying time for all of us, and it’s okay to need a break from creating. Stay safe, stay informed, stay calm, and until next time, stay magical, everyone.

The Entertainer (Poetry)

The numbers are cold,

The musical notes still warm

With the sensuous scarlet

That also decorates the dotted line

Of the contract I just signed

In my own blood—

I sold my soul

So I could let others

Commune with their own.

 

 

What Happened at the Antique Shop (Poetry)

The heaviness of the piece

Is more than its weight,

Memories in my hands

Flashing in my mind

In veiled shards of

What history it had witnessed,

The feelings welling up in my heart

And taking form into pictures

As familiar as words

I may have heard in a dream

Until I wonder if these memories

Are actually my own,

Since forgotten

Until now

 

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Ice Cream (Poetry)

Sweet nostalgia

Now forgotten,

Melted with

The burning suns

Of time—

What happened

To those days

Where the price for a wish

Was a dandelion seed,

And we were encouraged

To believe

In fairytales?

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Firepower (Poetry)

Held in

For so long

A roiling spiral

Until the emotions

No longer have a name

Nor have a fuse left

Merely the tiniest spark

And then—

 

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The Monster I Fear (Poetry)

I fear no monster

Of fang and claw,

Wings of bat and fur of wolf;

Of scales and fins,

Spines or gills;

 

I fear no monster

That lurks unseen,

Spectral hands and haunting voice;

Of heaven and hell,

Sunlight or sulfur;

 

It is the monster

Of empty smiles and lofty promises—

Predator, trickster,

Opportunist, scavenger—

That I fear the most.

 

Morrigan Harker

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Hobby or Hustle: A Response to Molly Conway

Disclaimer: All magic has a price, so this article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, so if you make a purchase with my link, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Well met, everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today, I want to introduce my point with a bit of a story. Earlier this month, I opened my new tarot deck (Amazon) and did a spread to allow the deck to introduce itself (I’m aware of how woo-woo that sounds when I write it out, but humor me please). The first card I drew with the deck was the reversed Ace of Pentacles, which I interpreted as “be careful about new business opportunities”. I had done some Oracle card readings before, and I admittedly wanted to start doing Tarot and psychic readings as a “side hustle” particularly with this deck, so I took this card as a warning that it possibly wouldn’t go as well as I hope (or at all). I also had to think about why I thought it would be necessary for me to make money from Tarot readings—why not just do it because I enjoy it?

Fast forward to yesterday, when I read an article by Molly Conway called “The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles”. Conway explains her opinions on how our generation is pressured to be busy all the time and how we’re encouraged to monetize our hobbies as part of our “hustle culture”. I caught myself saying “yassss” whenever I agreed with something Conway says, and I thought back to when I pulled the reversed Ace of Pentacles, and how we don’t have to turn all of our hobbies into a side job.

In particular, the story that Conway tells about a fellow wedding guest being repeatedly asked if she has an Etsy shop for her handmade clothes resonated with me quite a bit. As an aspiring musician as well as a writer, I’ve often been told things along the lines of, “You’re so good at singing—you should perform at open mics!” or “Your songwriting is so good! You should release an album!” When I hear people say that, I imagine a lot of them mean that as a form of encouragement—more like “if you wanted to become a famous musician, I’d support it” rather than “if you don’t become a famous musician, it’d be such a waste of talent that could make you really, really successful”. Regardless, our cultural mentality of “rise and grind” and “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” allows for a mindset of “if I’m not making money from this, then it’s not worth doing it”. Don’t even get me started on how many people have asked me, “Have you ever thought of selling your knitting on Etsy?”

I also want to elaborate on a similar experience. I’ve noticed a pattern that if ones likes a hobby or activity, one is expected to be really good at it, and I’ve experienced a lot of anxiety from that in my hobbies, even when I don’t have any intentions of making them into a career. For example, I love and appreciate historical costuming and handmade textile goods. I love to sit with my computer and a cup of Russian Caravan tea (Amazon), and binge watch Bernadette Banner’s YouTube videos. However, in case you haven’t seen my Instagram and Twitter when I have an inevitable meltdown in front of my sewing machine, I myself am not very good at sewing, and the pressure to be better at it gets to me in the moment (and that’s not even taking comparing oneself to others into consideration). Similarly, I love drawing and appreciate great art, but I have to choose to be okay with my stick-figure drawing because I don’t need my hobbies to add to my anxiety and my feelings of “not being good enough”. (Before anyone says “just practice and you’ll get better”, that’s not the point here. While it’s true there’s no way around practicing if you want to get better at anything, I also feel appreciating your progress and not putting yourself down for your present skill level needs to be emphasized just as much.) Just like it’s valid to be merely a casual fan of something like Star Wars or The Elder Scrolls, I also feel like doing what you love, even if you’re not that good at it, is also valid.

People talk a lot about self-care on Pinterest and Facebook, and I feel like we need hobbies that let us just do, with no expectation of success in some way, to let us decompress as a form of self-care. Hustling all the time can lead to burnout, and that makes self-care even harder. Have you experienced this mentality before? Let’s keep talking about it, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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Excerpt: THE HOLLOW BONES

Lina then saw Mr. von Essen sitting by the mill pond as he read from a small book. When she smiled, raising a hand in greeting, he tipped his hat and stood up from the grass.

“Miss Evangeline,” he greeted her.

“Our new schoolmaster, Mr. von Essen,” she gave a small curtsy in reply as she turned to introduce the two gentlemen to each other, “This is Mr. Irving, one of my friends from New York City.”

The schoolmaster held out his hand, “How do you do, Mr. Irving,”

“How do you do,” Mr. Irving smiled as he shook his hand, “Miss Lina, I believe I ought to see what my brother is up to.”

“Very well,” Lina smiled, and she saw Mr. Irving walk away before she turned to Mr. von Essen, “Do you not have classes today?”

“We just finished,” he held up the small book he was reading, “I found myself wanting to read my favorites again.”

She strained to read the cover of his book. “Shakespeare?” Her face lit up, “Which one is your favorite of his works?”

He smiled, “It’s quite tragic, but I feel quite partial to Hamlet.”

Her brow furrowed with recognition of the name, “That’s the one with ‘to be or not to be’, isn’t it?”

“That’s it,” he nodded, “Are you familiar with it?”

“I merely perused it,” she admitted, “I prefer ones like Romeo and Juliet, but my favorite is A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

He smiled with an arched brow, “‘I see Queen Mab hath been with you’,” The reference to Mercutio was not lost on Lina, and a giggle escaped. “Is it the fairies that intrigue you?”

She nodded as they sat back down on the grass. “They are both whimsical and dangerous, but they don’t seem to mean harm to people. Compared to those like Hamlet or Macbeth, it seems much more diverting. I always see a warning in Macbeth.” She cut herself short at that. How silly she was to prattle on and on!

Mr. von Essen, however, didn’t seem to be bothered with her brief monologue, and prompted, “How so?”

She shrugged, “The witches’ spell—‘something wicked this way comes’. You probably have heard of the haunted legends in the town by now.”

“Enough of them,” he hedged.

She suspected he was merely being gentle with his words, but she granted a small pardon for that time. “Well, it feels like something wicked may come to Sleepy Hollow, if it hasn’t already. The rumors of the village being cursed have been around even before I was born.”

He nodded, “The hauntings here may even predate the arrival of Europeans to this area. What about Hamlet?”

“When I read it, the idea of ghosts scared me. Maybe reading it now would not discomfit me, but it’s hard to make out the meaning of the Middle English.”

He smiled, “I might be able to help you. Mrs. Van Ripper suggested you were interested in tutoring. Perhaps I could tutor you in Shakespeare’s works as well as psalmody.”

It was Lina’s turn to grin broadly, “That would be quite lovely!”

 

I hope you enjoyed this bit from The Hollow Bones! Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!

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