A love of biographies is a stable interest of mine. I can trace it back to when I was a kid obsessed with songs and movies.
I always wanted to know…
- Who are these people?
- How did they create this captivating piece of work?
And as I grew older…
- How were they bold enough to try that?
- What obstacles did they have to overcome?
- Where did the money (aka time) to create such a thing come from?
For most kids, "it’s hard to be it if you can’t see it.”
Exploring the bios of artists online and in books gave me enough gumption to spend my early 20s as a singer-songwriter. Now? I still cling to bios out of my love for history and my formal background in bibliotherapy.
Case Studies are Gold
It has been said the best way to study creativity is the formal case study. Diving deep into one person’s life in order to explore the mysteries of innovation may be the only thorough way to go about it.
The proper study of money?
The proper study of history?
In my opinion, it is narrative.
Stories create a nice interstate highway of neurons in the brain, taking in scenes along the way generally sticking around longer than statistics or dates (for most people).
If someone’s story inspires me enough, I usually have enough rocket fuel to figure out annoying gritty details (such as how to actually open an IRA, do my taxes, or learn important dates from the French Revolution).
Creativity in the Back Pocket of the Adult
Creative “capital” is something earned in childhood and prolonged by those who keep in touch with their imagination and their own meandering life story.
When the angst of youth subsided, I wondered if I had lost the elusive creative edge.
The mental sorting inherent in large adult decision-making fell away as I found where I wanted to live, who I wanted to be with, and what I wanted to do.
I didn’t have to journal as much to figure myself out, so I put the journal down.
Chasing Early Interests
Sometimes songs inside a person disappear when they no longer need the intense reflection required of early adulthood. The urgency of the creative process may also stop speaking as adult pressures creep in. Sometimes creativity simply transforms or backs off to help its host survive.
But when ideas with a life of their own don’t stop knocking, it’s time to at least wonder why and make some life changes. (I believe this no matter how timid, in love with stable success, or agreeable you may seem.)
First Creative Dollar Motivation
My own desire to study this topic comes from a feeling of renewal. Maybe it’s the creative juices from post-partum? Maybe it’s seeing the world transformed and unstable due to COVID?
Whatever it is, I feel like starting over on my uncertain jumbled original journey. I was firmly on it ten years ago when it was interrupted by self-doubt and mismanagement of attention.
Selfishly or just intelligently, learning about others runs parallel along the quest to learn about the self.
Quality Time With Unrecognizable Names
As an avid podcast listener, sometimes I find it difficult to put time into a story or person I don’t recognize (unless the heading also includes something to draw from).
I have been pleasantly surprised several times, however, when a good podcast host only interviews quality people or has a quality angle. This exposes me to authors, creators, and even online subjects I am unfamiliar with.
Likewise, if you don’t recognize some of the people I interview from the Midwest, I hope you still consider giving them your attention.
I have learned invaluable lessons so far from the interviews conducted. On the off weeks, I’ve learned a lot while diving into the lives of artists from history. Of course, for every Bob Ross, there are thousands of talented charismatic people we’ve never heard about.
What’s the Ultimate Goal?
Discussing early earnings is a non-threatening congenial conversation starter. It guides a larger vulnerable conversation about the dreadful topic of creativity and money. It’s an unsolicited diamond pipe - digging straight to shaky thoughts about creative people's awkward place in the unfortunate misguided hierarchy of humans.
I hope to collect these stories with focus over the next several years and look for common threads woven throughout diverse creative disciplines. This is my “passion project” - taking place completely on the side in stolen amounts of time. I do it for the kid I was (who would’ve liked to encounter these stories) and for curious creatives of all ages.
I secretly hope it compounds over the years. Then I can eventually put together a book (if people still read books?) from an upper-level deck not built yet. (Wild dreams indeed. I make no promises.)
I would like to clarify to myself and others - I’m not here to “sell the dream.” Mixing personal creativity and money is not for everybody, and I hope the diversity inherent in these stories reflects that. (Here’s a fantastic Unmistakable Creative podcast I listened to this week with an author I didn’t recognize at first - Death of the Artist writer William Deresiewicz).
Always remember, the true value some people bring can’t be measured. It can’t be seen in the amount of money they amass, the house they live in, or how many followers they have. However, the potential to bring value is limitless and found on the confident faces of those who were better off for encountering you or your work.