The artist's life is not "The Artist's Life"

Venice, Italy

Venice is a labyrinthine landscape — narrow stone walkways twisting alongside jade green canals. On both the occasions in which I was fortunate enough to travel in Venice, I've felt a deep calm settle over me.

"I could live here," I told my friend while we wound our way through the city recently. How easy it was to imagine a different kind of life while wandering around getting comfortably lost and spending my afternoons drinking Aperol Spritz and consuming copious amounts of pasta — a life in which I could spend my mornings writing in a apartment overlooking the water and my afternoons wandering the streets with a sketchbook, looking for some secret nook of the city to discover. 

There is a romantic ideal of The Artist's Life, the idea that writers, painters, or other creators live with more passion than other people. They may be housed in some grand dilapidated studio, creating their art simply for art's sake — never mind money or the need for food or what anyone else things about it. Some of this comes from the stories we tell about creators. Van Gogh painting what would later be recognized as master pieces while impoverished and struggling with mental illness. Fitzgerald and Hemingway romping it up in Paris, drinking and partying while shaping their classic novels. 

Even learning stories about the lives of modern writers can fill me with a sense of longing. When I listened to an interview in which Neil Gaiman described writing all his novels and stories out in notebooks with fountain pens, I couldn't help thinking about how lovely that sounded. Maybe, I thought, I just need to buy some new notebooks and new pens. Maybe this will help me be a Writer.

The Artist's Life is an ideal that's hard to live up to and sometimes it can feel like you're not a "real" artist — especially if you're working a full time job and can barely scrape any time together to find time to write in between family, friendship, and the plain need to rest. Any life, whether in Venice or Paris or San Francisco, can quickly loose its romance under the obligations of daily life. 

At the end of the day, there's no one right way to be a writer, and every artist has to forge their own path through their life. Some writer's methodically put words down on the page every day. Some write more sporadically. Some use pen and ink, some stick to the computer screen.

The roads are many and varied. What's yours? 


I recorded a new podcast for New Books in Poetry, in which I speak with Sara Tantlinger about her book, The Devil's Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes. We have a great discussion about horror poetry, serial killers and people's fascination with them. 

In addition, my co-host Athena Dixon also had a great discussion with Frances Donovan about her poetry collection, Mad Quick Hand of the Seashore

Good Stuff Out There

My sister and I checked out the premier of The Devil's Road: A Baja Adventure. The entertaining documentary presents a family adventure, travelog, and history of Baja California. Check out the trailer here

I've started hanging out on Twitch (a live streaming service mostly for gaming) and have grown fascinated with the Quieter Side of Twitch, where artists, crafters, and cooks connect and create community with fellow creators. 

After reading Charlie Jane Anders' fantastic novel The City in the Middle of the Night, it was fascinating to read about the Hidden Layers of Every Novel, in which Meg Elison discusses all the pages of research and notes that will not (and probably never should) be seen by readers. 

Welcome to the delightfully strange world of Werwolf Art from the Middle Ages. 

Nonbinary Review is currently for submissions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and art in relation to The Odyssey (deadline July 4th). 

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