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Putting a Price Tag on Passion

posted Sep 23, 2019, 9:14 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Sep 24, 2019, 5:25 AM ]
What an amazing group of creative minds at The Room to Write’s Writers and Illustrators Meet & Greet at Wahlburgers! Every three months I look forward to knowing I will have the distinct privilege of being in the midst of an eclectic group of creative individuals. The only way I can ensure this happens is by organizing this event myself. So, what have I learned from organizing these types of events? I learned that no matter how tired I am, how little of my latest project I’ve written, how much laundry there is to do or how hard the opportunity to gather with other writers and creative minds is to fit into my schedule—I MUST DO IT!

I need to treat every opportunity to meet up with other writers, illustrators and creative minds like it’s an event I am organizing. I have to imagine I am the one bringing the coffee and sweets—even if I’m not. Perhaps I should volunteer to do so in order to hold myself accountable? I need to conger up the notion that I am the person responsible for greeting people as they arrive and charged with introducing them to others—helping them to feel at home among their people—even if I will do nothing of the sort. Maybe that’s something I could help out with, though? I’ll have to email the organizer and find out if he or she would like me there to serve that role. Why? Because I need to hold myself accountable.

I understand now—after hosting so many of these meet and greet events—how very important it is to force myself out of my comfort zone and get into someone’s physical line of sight, shake their hand and ask them what they write, how they write—why they write. I want to be in the orbit of an illustrator and talk directly to them and know what they enjoy or struggle with, not because I am an illustrator but because we are both artists trying to connect with an audience, trying to evoke a laugh or a tear or a nod of understanding.

I believe that art of any sort is the most vulnerable way that we humans hope to communicate and connect with one another. We want to be heard, be seen, be understood—be part of this human family. Art is another language through which we try to do all those things. It is an off-gassing that seems wholly necessary on a regular basis in order to settle into our environment—until our scent no longer seems out of place or toxic. I guess it’s a fancy way of asking those around us, “Do I stink or do you smell like this too?” Now I worry—does that make sense? Well, that is the worry that every author, every artist, every filmmaker shares. They want to know—in a very basic way—if they stink of if that’s how you smell too.

Creativity is the root of all solutions. People want ingenuity. Companies want problem solvers. Creativity is always present and, in fact—demanded—at the genesis of anything. Yet, where are the opportunities to create? Where is the money? When will we—as a society—value the creative individuals who I know have a passion that burns white hot—the people who will go without a paycheck just for the opportunity to create for and connect with another human being. How can we reconcile art and money? What price can we put on passion? I don’t know—I’m asking. But, I would love an answer—not just another algorhythm.


It continues to blow every writer north of Boston’s mind that The Room to Write does not already exist—fully funded—to serve this region. It’s hard to understand how a community that wants creative problem solving—that values art, education and thinking outside the box isn’t funneling it’s money toward writers and artists who may not yet have been vetted. It’s hard to explain an investment in any artist who is not well known or published or considered worth investing in yet.

We invest in the old, white, male, (mostly of the corpse variety, to put it frankly) artists. Show me the endowments for the female, youth, poor, nontraditional artists who do not have credits to their name or a degree or—in some cases—a paycheck or a home. Not a single writer I meet and talk to understands it either. So many writers of every color, academic level, age and financial profile are all in search of a haven, a home, a place where they can converge and find each other, but for now we writers of no merit only exist in small groups that don’t necessarily know each other and scramble for space to meet in the margins somewhere between Panera and a public park.

We at The Room to Write are doing our best to create a mecca for writers and it seems we have everything: the writers, the passion, the website, the nonprofit status, the critique group, the events—the clear demand. The only one element that is missing is, unfortunately, what the whole thing hinges on: money. We want everybody to have access to workshops and critique groups and people they can consider their peers. We do not believe that writing well is a skillset only reserved for the wealthy or those who are “in the know.” We want to be the resource that every adult and child can rely on to become better writers. So, perhaps you’d like to help us.

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