My girlfriend and I are both multi-platform artists.
She’s an actor, comedy writer, playwright, solo performer and oh, so much more. I’m a journalist, editor, writer and publicist. She’s in a film that will soon be screening at a major film festival. I’ve been working on a memoir for quite a while. We both have half a dozen other projects we are juggling, and half a dozen more we want to put into action. Meanwhile we are also just trying to make a living.
I’m totally excited about the film. It means my gal will have the chance to hob-nob with some big shots in the film industry. Also, she can just have some fun with her 15 minute of fame (instead of shame:) She’s been working really hard for the past two decades on her plays, performance pieces and many other artistic endeavors. She is much more disciplined than I, and much more, not committed, but better at actualizing a project than I am. I’m good at execution, but bringing a project to its conclusion is something else altogether.
In any case, we are both at a sort of crossroads. Her academic job ends in a few weeks, I have an independent publicity gig that will last only a short run. It seems we are always looking for work—paying work, that is, because so many people in the arts are more than willing to ask for—and take—talent for free. I find it is especially prevalent among editors and others who want content. Write for free and you’ll get a byline, your writing will by seen by millions, you’ll come away with fabulous clips, etc. Well, Mister No Payment for Services, I’ve already got a byline, I’ve got a popular blog, I don’t need your unpaid writing gig, my words are not free. It takes talent to put words together to create a compelling story, writing is a craft and an art, not something every Tom, Dick and Harry, or Samantha, Michelle and Mary can do. At least not do well.
And not everyone can act. I can’t, I wouldn’t even dare trying. In fact, most people cannot even do a good job of telling a white lie. Which may be a good or a bad thing, I’m not judging—except about acting abilities.
So, back to the crossroads. We’ve been living together, my girl and I, for four months. We’ve made the rent every month thus far. We’ve got it covered for January, but we’re not yet certain where February rent is coming from. We will make it I am sure, but as I sit here at my desk here in mid-December so many things are uncertain and unsettled. I kind of like it that way, being free and unfettered, surprised by the next big—or small—thing to happen. However, my gal likes more structure and more certainty.
It’s hard working in the arts, being creative for not a lot of pay, but together we are making it work. I only dated professional women in the past and it never turned out well. They didn’t like to allow me the time I need to write, my penchant for cooking up “crazy” schemes or my unfettered lifestyle.
This is actually the bone of contention my biological family has with me, too. Oh they don’t have any issues with me being a dyke, that’s all good, everyone is great with the queer part. It’s the itinerant writer without a steady income, lack of health insurance and only sometimes having a day job that makes them nervous and disapproving. I think they are stability junkies who think about too many death, doom and destruction scenarios.
But we’re here together to support each other, me and my girl. It’s not the easiest life that we’ve chosen. Or rather this life that has chosen us, because we cannot be any other way or doing anything else. We want to live our artistic dreams and not stifle them for lack of funds or put our life plans on hold just because sometimes we don’t know where our next dime is coming from.
Mostly I want to say that because of the love, kindness and support we give and get from each other, the hard part is a helluva lot easier.