Art is not competition. Art is community.

If you've never experienced white-hot envy, I urge you to attend a writing conference. I went to my first, AWP (the big one), in Chicago in 2005ish. I'd just completed my first novel as a serious grown-up writer, Popular, and thought I was pretty hot shit. I wasn't. I was the only attendee (seemingly) who wasn't in grad school for writing, or teaching grad school for writing. I was quickly put in my place, and that tangible humility has never left me. Fast forward six or seven years to a young adult fiction conference at The Loft in the Twin Cities. Again, I felt like the only one there who wasn't somehow connected to grad school. But something had changed. I was published (which my best friend didn't mind telling everyone), and this time those envious glares were directed toward me. I've been on both sides of it, and neither is very comfortable.

Creativity shouldn't have boundaries. When we limit our artistic influence, we limit our artistic capacity. Inspiration is all around us if we're but willing to open our eyes and see it.

I wouldn't be the the artist I am today without the influence of Conor Oberst, David Bazan, Annie Dillard, Stephen King, Scott Westerfeld, Shirley Jackson and Andy Warhol. I wouldn't see the world through the same eyes. I wouldn't feel creativity in the same capacity. I don't merely appreciate passion, I feed off of it. I require it, and I'm not inclined to settle.

Doesn't life seem a hell of a lot easier knowing someone else feels the same way?



Conor Oberst
Double Life

Michelle BredesonComment