Reader Sven commented:
“Like any other insignificant person in an audience, I can’t influence the outcome of an artist’s Success vs. Failure death match, but I do wonder what success means beyond satisfying the obvious quartet of human-dignity negatives (not be homeless/not go to bed hungry/not be afraid to walk in my own neighborhood/not have to work for a shithead). Is the overarching goal simply access to more people who really don’t get it? A bigger rack of antlers? More money to finance a more comfortable level of moping?”
FIRST OF ALL: What a G*R*E*A*T Writer you are Sven!! That is just A HELL OF A SENTENCE! I wish I wrote sentences that pithy and exact!
I feel moved to answer, just so that you don’t think I was aiming for a bigger set of antlers: Yeah, that quartet of human dignity negatives, THAT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS AIMING FOR, and THAT IS WHAT I CALL SUCCESS. I may have gone into this here before, but maybe not, but my “success” goals were as follows:
A 2 bedroom house is South Austin (this is a modest goal for my place and time)
To earn enough money to stay alive (Also, modest. I lived on @$7000 a year most of my adulthood.)
To live as an artist, making art. Not to have to waste my energy in menial labor, which is what I did. I bussed tables for 20 years, then waited tables for ten more.
I also hoped to earn enough money to be able to have a child. That did not materialize. Of course that would have been EXTRA! But It was part of my unrealized life “plan”, and I always thought of that as part of my SUCCESS!
It is funny, the kind of success I have pretty much ALWAYS enjoyed, CRITICAL SUCCESS, I tend to ignore, because, I already had it! But I do appreciate that I had it. I DO! I think, at the TIME, I thought, “Talk (Good reviews) is cheap! Money talks and bullshit walks! PAY ME!!!!! SOMEBODY PLEASE PAY ME SOME MONEY SO I CAN STOP DOING MENIAL LABOR!!!! AND SEE THE DOCTOR WHEN I NEED TO!!”
Because your name is Sven, I IMAGINE that you live in a civilized country in Scandinavia where artists are allowed to be artists on small government stipends and EVERYONE is allowed to see a doctor when they are sick. It is not like that in Texas. No one is allowed to live as an artist unless they make MONEY (or inherit it) and you can only see a doctor if you have money. So $MONEY$ becomes a big part of the “success” equation, even if you aren’t interested in money for it’s own sake at all. I was never interested in keeping score with money or living a decadent lifestyle.
And of course, all artists want to have enough money to KEEP MAKING ART. Especially with recording artists in the eighties and nineties, when you needed to pay for recording in studios (there weren’t computers at home like now), you needed to have enough money to KEEP MAKING RECORDS.
That is pretty much where every penny of money GLass EYE made playing shows etc went: to keep going. We never ever paid ourselves, EVER. We saved all the money for recording, and financing touring (which was on a shoestring.)
BUT the good news is, I am having success at REDEFINING my SUCCESS!! SOMEONE sent me a check TODAY for a CD. YAY!! How is this for a success thought:
I AM WELL THOUGHT OF BY THOSE WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH MY WORK.
Here is an even better one:
I HAVE BEEN CALLED A GENIUS BY CRITICS IN MY FIELD.