In considering the perils of success, Julia reminds us that creativity is not a business. It certainly has business closely tied to it, as it can generate income and business for us, if that is our desire. But the business model is very often a factory model. We are asked to turn out “product” that is dependable and at a standard quality, based on what was previously purchased.
While our art may absolutely manifest something that is valuable and marketable, Julia warns that we need to be careful of the temptation to “guarantee what we cannot deliver: good work that duplicates the good work that has gone before.”
For instance, James Cameron’s movie “Avatar” has now surpassed his own earlier film, “Titanic,” which was the biggest money-maker of all time. It might have been powerfully tempting to top his previous work with a known formula. And a sequel could very possibly have done it.
Instead, as we all know by now, he risked everything on a radically different kind of film, even inventing revolutionary new technology to manifest his vision. In the process of doing this, he disappeared from the Hollywood scene for many years.
It was a big gamble. But, as he has said in many interviews both before the opening of the movie and since, he was driven by a vision he’d had ever since he first began his film career.
It is that kind of willingness to risk, to decline the easy way, to stay true to the whispers and shouts of our “divine attendant spirits” that keeps us a flowing channel of Creativity. Popularity and wealth are wonderful, and very possible, but when they become the goal, the work will, eventually, suffer.
Julia is quick to reassure us that we need not sacrifice our bottom line. However, she writes, “the many creatives laboring in fiscal settings should remember to commit themselves not only to projects that smack of the sure thing, but also to those riskier projects that call to their creative souls. You don’t need to overturn a successful career in order to find creative fulfillment. But it is necessary to overturn each day’s schedule slightly to allow for those small adjustments in daily trajectory that, over the long haul, alter the course and the satisfaction of our careers…
“Artists can and do responsibly meet the demands of their business partnerships. What is more difficult and more critical is for us as artists to continue to meet the inner demand of our own artistic growth. In short, as success comes to us, we must be vigilant. Any success postulated on a permanent artistic plateau dooms us, and it, to failure.”
Tomorrow, Julia introduces a new and perhaps unexpected turn on this topic of personal autonomy. Stay tuned!