Struggling Artists Unite!

So I’m about to rant.  I know…you’re saying to yourself, “Oscar, you always rant.”  But this is going to be a special kind of rant.  I’m going to unburden myself with all the reasons why artists need to be supported. In every way, emotionally and financially.  We don’t live in an age of benefactors!  If artists are going to be the voice for the under-heard and disadvantaged, then we need fuel for the fire, we need people surrounding us and giving us the energy to keep fighting.

So first off, if you want me to give you a freebee then come at me with a genuine curiosity about my literature. I’m happy to share under those circumstances and have emailed free copies of my stories to many of my followers on this blog.  Because many of my followers are artists themselves and understand where I’m coming from.  I support them as much as they support me.  It’s called reciprocity.  But don’t come at me like a privileged little shit and expect me to give you a freebee because you’re an over righteous douche bag.  Don’t approach me like I’ve violated you because I’ve attached a meager 99 cent price tag on a short story.  I’m sorry you have to walk all the way to your car in the driveway and dig out 99 cents from your console.

Alebrijes in Oaxaca, MexicoSecond, I went to college for six years to obtain the degrees I hang on my walls, to write provocative stories that are meant to help you grow as a human being as much as entertain you with my tribal culture.  I’m not an ethnographer.  I’m an artist.  I’m not here to get rich, but it’d be nice to eat more than just ramen noodle soup sometimes.  I’m sure my kids would appreciate that as well.  I’m not working out of a multi-millionaire’s purse.  I don’t have a benefactor paying my bills.  I work fulltime.  I’m a fulltime, single father.  And I write fiction.  My drive to realize the benevolence of this literary profession is the reason I write.  I believe in the literary field’s ability to transform people to better understand each other, like I believe in America’s will to give people the freedom to figure out how to live cohesively.  All of that faith and effort takes time and energy.

Lastly, if there is any spirit left in this mass consumption society, we, the artists, possess it, and remind you with every word and every painting and every sculpture that you too have spirit and you need to go seek it out and find it.  There is a reason people are drawn toward literature, paintings, sculptures, music, etc., etc.  When you hear that song, when the words in a story make you pause, when a painting makes your mind quickly move from confusion to problem solving it’s complexity, you are remembering your own spirit and connecting to your own spirit.  Once you have that feeling you want to find it again.  We, the artists, give you opportunity to engage with your own spirit.

So please don’t come at me like I’m a brutish millionaire sucking the pennies from your pocket.  I’ve somehow, through symbolism, packaged a piece of my spirit for you to consume.

The End

Posted by

Oscar Hokeah is a regionalist Native American writer of literary fiction, interested in capturing intertribal and multicultural aspects within two tribally specific communities: Tahlequah and Lawton, Oklahoma. He was raised inside these tribal circles and continues to reside there today–half Native American (Kiowa/Cherokee) and half Hispanic. He earned an M.A. in English from the University of Oklahoma, and a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a recipient of the Truman Capote Scholarship Award and the Native Writer Award. He has short stories published in South Dakota Review, American Short Fiction, Yellow Medicine Review, Surreal South ’09, and Red Ink Magazine

39 thoughts on “Struggling Artists Unite!

  1. 👏👏👏
    People really need to spend more time, heart AND money on supporting artists.
    Often they do not even grasp the “work” aspect of writing. It is not like we take words and string them like beads, it takes a lot of time, nerve, and often we mine so deep into our own souls it is lucky that we survive, literally. I would love to live off writing poetry, but I’m also not delusional so I got a day-job in childcare.

    Just stumbled across your blog via a like you gave a recent poem of mine, and I guess I’ll start exploring. Funnily enough I wrote a poem about paying poets just a few days ago: https://lunarpoet.com/2018/06/04/293-payn/

    Kind regards from Germany
    Matthias

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m glad we crossed each other’s paths. Artists in general get exploited grotesquely. Writers seem to get the short end of the stick often. We give people insight into the human condition. Avenues for reflection which can show people how their lives have meaning. And with such a large task we get paid little to nothing. I hope more people can see how beneficial our work is. I’ll check out your post. Nice to have a kindred spirit stop by. Thank you. I look forward to having more discussions with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The problem for me is that I’m depending on other people to spread “the word”. It is not that I’m not convinced in the quality of my work. As much as I like the idea of “l’art pours l’art” if I want to self-publish (which to me seems the only reasonable option) I need enough people to see and receive it, otherwise it would be like shouting into a enormous cave, waiting for the echo to be swallowed. I’m finally at a point where I think publishing would make sense, economically. Also glad about crossing paths with you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I need to explore the fact of economic class hindering or helping an artist’s career. Very interesting. I’m looking at three writers from educated but poor families. They didn’t go into manual labor. But they had such a hard time becoming professional writers since they needed to help support their families RIGHT AWAY.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an uphill battle for certain. There are many single parents out there who have made it so I keep my head up and just keep plugging away. This blog and social media are the only consistent forms of public access I have. Going to a conference is nearly impossible. Not just the financial part of it but juggling my daughters schedules as well. I can’t leave them for a week at a time to attend a conference. Even the ones in the area can be hard to get to if I have conflict in scheduling. But I’ll keep putting myself out there. Even if it’s only through social media. Thank you Laura. I’m pleased you’ve come back to my site.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Valid post. I believe artists in Ireland are exempt from paying tax – hearsay only. So much good talent doesn’t get to see the light of day due to financial constraints. The art world has it’s own problems though. Here in South Africa it’s hardly a supportive environment.

    Artistic endeavour, in any of the disciplines, is Work. It’s very difficult work. For someone to complain about a price being put on the final artistic product is just plain crazy. I suggest you put the price up, 99c is way too little!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Petrujviljoen. The journey is long and arduous. I figure a small amount might give people more willingness to engage my writing. Once I complete the novel, I’ll higher the rate. What I have on Amazon are short stories. I’m hoping the novel gets picked up by a publisher and then I’ll have help promoting my work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Apparently having an agent is important. I’m currently battling getting a 300-word story penned for a competition I plan on entering (Bath Flash Fiction if you want to know – heck the more the merrier), let alone a full length novel so I’ve no idea of the trials and tribulations awaiting one on the journey. I’ll investigate the site where your stories are at – promise! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. It helps artists. If art is going to be free then other items in the market need to be free first. Like free energy and free food. Basics of human survival. Then we can ask those crawling on the bottom to offer up some free items.

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      1. Thank you Laura. I do as well. There needs to be more scholarships available for artists with children. How about all expenses paid to a conference for yourself and your children. Then we’d get some diverse voices out there. Until then it’ll be the same voices of the affluent in every book.

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  4. ” I believe in the literary field’s ability to transform people to better understand each other, like I believe in America’s will to give people the freedom to figure out how to live cohesively.”

    I think you are very probably right. The more I think about it , the more I feel the same way. Let’s face it thousands of years of religion have provided us with some beautiful thought and many myths but little else. That may just be because religion asks us to seek help outside ourselves rather than solve our own problems.

    And yet it is all there – the Sermon on The Mount, the Eightfold Path and so on. I have often wondered why so few have listened to the actual message.

    Perhaps you are right – I have been thinking myself recently that putting one’s thoughts out there are a way to spread messages of benefit.

    Money and material survival: it’s such a miserable topic. I have been terrified of poverty since I was a small child but have been lucky enough to date not to suffer from it.

    It seems so curious to me that in a universe with infinite riches we end up with such unacceptable polarisation. From Elon Musk down to the slums of Calcutta.

    It is sometimes all too tempting to shake one’s fist at the universe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I have been thinking myself recently that putting one’s thoughts out there are a way to spread messages of benefit.”

      You’re right about a continued dialogue. There is something in finding people we can bounce ideas off of and contemplate on all these issues that make up identities. I also wonder where the analysis is on psychology and psychosocial dynamics–how people form culture and groups. What are the mechanisms that bind us? Safety? If so, does “feeling safe” become a leash for those in power to control? Psychologically I think many of us are very weak and I include myself in that number. I like to think I have free will, but then jeopardize my children’s safety and I’m a puppet. It’s terrible. I wish it wasn’t so. We can’t disregard that if there are people on the human spectrum who are beyond generous, then there are people on the human spectrum who greedy and controlling. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because we don’t let others be accountable for themselves. We enable and compensate for the shortcomings of our loved ones and people in the community. Many of the world religions give us the language to justify doing so. Not that we should completely let people flounder. That’s not what I’m saying, but religions can charge followers to bring others into the fold by dependence. “I’ll feed you if you conform to my religion” is the modality of its coercion. So why the evangelicalism? Why do we need to save others? Why not save ourselves and lead by example? I do believe in generosity, and when someone in my family is helping themselves by staying proactive then I help them more so than someone who continues to be destructive. Maybe I’m wrong. But I try to step away from the evangelicalism as much as possible. I don’t have all the answers, and on most days I barely know how to save myself so why would I try to save someone else.

      I’m rambling, but some thoughts that run through my head as I drink my coffee. I’m never fixed in my identity. I allow it to be malleable. Makes sense to me. So what I believe now might change tomorrow. But these are some thoughts running through my head this morning.

      Like

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