Creative performers, like writers, artists, musicians, are everywhere. Across the globe our numbers are too vast to fathom, yet, or perhaps as a consequence, the creative arts industry is one of the most difficult to break into. It would have been far less heartbreak, and perhaps more financially rewarding, to become a draftsman for an architectural company, or a manufacturer than to toil in the creative industry*. Construction, engineering, manufacturing and primary industries all offer apprenticeships where novices can get paid to learn the trade. Whole organisations have been set up to match apprentice with professional tradespeople and regardless of the economic climate, there is (usually) work available in these industries – even as some companies are downsizing or shutting down, others are rising to take their place, at least here in Australia. The economy may flounder, but the world still needs irrigation pipe and electrical conduit, timber and tools, canned goods and fresh vegetables, mechanics, plumbers and sheep shearers. I’m not suggesting that life in these industries is easy or completely immune to economic pressure – my husband works in manufacturing and his company is feeling the pinch despite thirty-five years of service to Australia – but there is something to be said for having an industry trade. With the exception of journalism, to the best of my knowledge there are few paid apprenticeships or internships for writers where mentoring is provided as part of the program. Generally writers must find their own way into the industry, paying inordinate amounts of money to learn from “professionals”. Even when there are scholarships and awards, competition is extreme; only a handful will be chosen and even fewer will succeed. The rejection rate for writers doesn’t bare thinking about. You’ve heard the stories of writer’s being rejected over and again – Bryce Courtnay, J K Rowling, Conan Doyle, even James Joyce were all rejected more than a few times. Robert Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected over 100 times. If Prisig had been a carpenter or electrician and received that many job interview rejections he’d have given up his trade and tried something else. Each time you send a piece of work out for publication, you are essentially applying for a job, but unlike the trade industries, interviewing is subjective and sometimes long, work is usually postpaid to the tune of months or years rather than weeks, probabtionary periods are longer and often the writer must contribute financially to his/her own success. Someone once said to me “you’ve picked a hard career, kid – you should have a backup”. I like contingency plans and had no problem following this advice, but for as long as I can remember I’ve felt a great injustice for performance artists of all kinds. The world needs us as much as it needs trade industries, perhaps more so. Human’s can live without cars, but can we live without stories, art and music? Apparently not. According to the Queensland Government website, creative industires is growing faster worldwide than any other economic industry. This makes perfect sense to me. We are a creative species – there is no society or culture on Earth that lives without music, art or story. When times are hard it is creative industry that populations turn to for salvation, like wartime entertainers performers rally the troops and ease dissension. Musicians bring smiles to the disheartened, story-tellers bring laughter and hope, and artists make us wonder at the beauty of the human mind. All of these are forms of story-telling. I’m glad to have chosen to implant myself in the creative industry as a writer, it is an honorable, and very ancient and necessary profession. If you are a story teller, a musician or dancer, an artist or photographer feel proud, for you are in good company and your skill is needed now more than ever.
*By creative industries I mean writing, publishing, all forms of art, including photography, film and television, music and dance