white roses

About a Circle

We all know that in order to succeed at writing we need to persist. But the truth is that sometimes the going gets pretty tough. There are no longer “Patrons of the Arts” to support us creative folk while we slave away, which means our financial situations (especially if we’re devoting a lot of time to our art) are often precarious. On days when the rent is due, or the electricity bill, or the school fees, the nagging doubts –  about whether we’re doing the right thing, whether we’d be better off just chucking in the towel and getting a Real Job – are deafening.

What keep us writing then?

Strength. Strength of will and mind,which enables us to keep on going even though the promise of reward may still be far in the distance. Strength to endure rejections and losses and go back for more. The strength to see it through, to give it one more year, one more month, one more day. To write one more word, even when we don’t feel like it.

Courage. You have to be either brave or foolish to take on writing, or any other art form for that matter, and try to make a living from it. It takes guts. The courage of the fool, stepping blithely off the precipice trusting she’ll be  caught.

Faith. Faith in yourself. Faith in your work. Faith that one day, some day, hopefully sooner rather than later, all the work you’ve been doing will be rewarded (and by that I mean paid for – with money!) You have to believe that being called to pursue art seriously was not just the whim of the Gods, but an offer. Trust that your dreams will come true.

My friend Stephen Nothling, who currently has an exhibition showing at Eva Breuer Galleries in Sydney, is a great example of these three qualities. When I first met him in the mid-eighties he was living rough in his studio in the Metro Arts Building in Brisbane, painting every day and holding shows regularly. One of his early murals still decorates the ceiling of the foyer. These days he lives with his partner, Dierdre, and their two lovely children just around the corner and he’s still painting. Six days a week. He’s had years of success and acclaim and others that were lean and mean. But still, every day, he gets up, goes to his studio and paints something beautiful. And they are beautiful as you can see from the picture above. Click on his name at the Gallery site for more and you’ll see what I mean.

If that isn’t strength, courage and faith enough for you then factor into the equation his visual impairment. Stephen can hardly see and paints his massive canvasses with tiny brushes, his nose millimetres from the cloth. He is an inspiration. He once told me that the world needs artists, just as much as it does butchers and bankers. And I agree. Without art, in all its forms, we forget how precious and beautiful life is.

Thank you Stephen and all those artists who never give up.

Sending you all the strength, courage and faith you need.




  1. you have to back yourself so hard – be your own cheer squad and just keep on going on the path your have been strong enough to carve out for yourself. Artists are brave! AND my hat goes off to all of us!
    Hooray !

  2. ps – a quote that often gets me through the tough days..

    Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

    From the war or art by Steven Pressfield.

  3. Good post, Edwina. The creative life is a tough one, that’s for sure. But it also takes real guts to say ‘that’s it, no more’ and walk away after investing x amount of years in it. I think when the distress outweighs the rewards it can be time to move on, but see it as a triumph rather than giving up – because clear assessments of one’s own potential and fortitude, the state of the current market, and the support of those close to you, are not easy to make and I’ve seen people drift on for years, doing nothing but hiding behind a label when the reality is very different. You’ve got to want to do the work, not BE the artist/writer…if you know what i mean.

    • Argh! That scares me Phillipa. But I know you’re right too. But what if all those people who gave up were just one more ms or show away from making it? What if they gave up and became bitter and twisted. Okay, bitter and twisted – with money. I hope they still keep doing their art for themselves, or else it’s too sad. Forgot to put in my post; the main reason why we can’t stop is because the thought of not doing our art is like choosing not to live. I suppose if it’s not like that for those people who quit then they’re lucky.
      Hope the rewrite is going well,

  4. What a great quote Fave! Love it. I used to think being an artist/writer/ nun/monk was aselfish choice till I realised. My god we need them! WE need people who sit in quiet and think and create and pray.
    ANy news your end?

  5. no news…. and that’s probably good news.
    surfing and writing and hanging out with my niece – so life is great.
    love fave xxxx

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