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Money is a concretized form of support

Dear X,

Your letter accuses me of having my head in the clouds or someplace else I won't mention. You don't want "support," you tell me. You want "money." I was already talking about money. Money is a concretized form of support.

When we talk about needing money, what we are usually after is access. We want money to rent equipment, for example, but what we really want is use of the equipment. We want money to buy CDs, but what we really want is to listen to music. Money buys that and guarantees us one form of access, but access comes in many forms. Once we begin looking for the universe to support our creative dreams, the universe is very inventive and even humorous in how it provides support.

Decide you need "more space" and get asked to house-sit a loft. Decide you need more or better supplies and land a day job at an art supply shop that gives a whopping employee discount. Decide you need more visibility as a writer and get asked to participate in an open mike. Sign up to participate in an open mike and learn about a newly started alternative press that is interested in having you submit to it. Opportunities abound. It is our openness to them that varies. Money comes in many forms, sometimes as barter. A month's dog walking may give you access to an avid editing bank. The walks themselves may give you a wonderful flow of new ideas. Ideas—do I need to remind you?—are yet another source of money. In fact, as artists, ideas are our major source of money.

You say that you are "broke," but to my eye you look independently wealthy. All artists are. We possess an inner store-house that no one can take away from us. We have direct access to an inner river of creative energy that converts into money. True, you may need a day job, but no job is a dead-end job if it is a life-support system for our art. Then, too, there is the possibility that you could ask for guidance as to the "right" day job. When we ask for guidance, we are led, although our sign may not be a burning bush or the instant parting of the financial Red Sea. Sometimes, all we are shown is our next step. That next step is always the only step we need to take.

Excerpted from Letters to a Young Artist – pg 63-4