Creative friends

concert photography

I nearly titled this “artist friends”, but if someone described me as that I’d insist I’m rather low-brow for the title. It wasn’t too long ago that I insisted I was a writer, but not an author, because there’s no reason for the quasi-elite connotations of the latter; I buckled eventually, it stopped feeling like a remark worth making.

To paraphrase a┬ásinger I know, “It’s great hanging out with musicians, with artistic types. You never know if you’re sitting in on history.”

The first reason you hang out with anybody, of course, is because you feel interested in hanging out with them. We can flesh out the reasons for why you feel that way, but in my personal experience, this friendship may have low mileage if it’s only established for an ulterior motive. No, you like a person and you like spending time with them, or it may not matter what else they have to offer you. If you’re being paid to spend time with them, on the other hand, then it sounds like the vague makings of a job. We all tend to need a job some time.

I once had a job for a guy who said, “Who you are with is who you become”. Maybe there’s a bit of that hope when we hang out with creative friends, that inspiration will touch us too. That’s probably not the exact mechanism of inspiration, but if you don’t know how else it works and you describe it that way, most people know what you mean.

I prefer to have a group that leaves room for people to find their own craft. If the group is stifling by nature, then the accomplishments of its individual members don’t matter; you don’t need that. You don’t need to fit someone else’s idea of what a writer should be. You need exposure to ideas that might not otherwise occur to you, or you may even need time and space to try the handful of things you heard first because you could get option paralysis if you’re flooded with too many ideas at once. The individual gets along with the group and the group enables the individual, and there is no relevant conflict.

I like a group where we can have honest discussions, but there needs to be caring as a foundation. There are workshops, critique groups, and then just groups of creative friends, and the lattermost is where caring for others must happen. Workshops and critique groups are where you go specifically to get something you want, and likewise other people show up to get what they want, and some form of trade happens. With a good group of creative friends, accounting happens at mutually agreed upon times; who pays how much when splitting a bill, certainly, but not such a strict accounting of, “I gave you X, you’ll definitely owe me one” unless the situation calls for it.

I have a few groups of creative friends. In most of them, I’m an appreciator on the periphery, or I have a peripheral contribution level to the art in question; I may photographically document it without really doing it, or I’m in the chat room with the web comic artists but everyone knows I can’t even draw stick figures as well as XKCD. That’s the role I’m used to, so I don’t tend to vie for leadership even in the rare case when others may consider me a more central figure.

Is there one group you have that you’d like to discuss?

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