I read this as part of my reading challenge: 25 short stories in 25 days.
E. Lily Yu is the author of The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees which totally blew me away! I have to admit that wasn’t why I picked up this story today, I picked it up because I had a long day, it is late and there was a podcast version of this. I picked it because it was the shortest one in my Clark World feed on the tablet. Not the best reasons, but I knew that, because it was a Clark World story, it would be quality writing.
As with most of Clark World’s stories the writing was beautiful. It is a story about art and the bargains we might be willing to make when inspiration is low or the career is not what we imagined. The Muse is a really harsh mistress in this story – as she should be.
I am always surprised at just how much meaning you can pack into 1500 words when you use them well. And boy does Yu use them well? She managed to paint a whole life in a few sentences.
Art school. Elizabeth and Farah, tall and short, marvelous until they found out about each other. Your classes in anatomy, visual effects, life drawing, character rigging. What a crude and clumsy portfolio. But here’s the job offer, finally.
The story does make me appreciate the fact that I am not a writer, I do not have to live off my creativity, it was one of the things I left behind when I chose to go the academic route and teach instead. I am happy about that, partly because I love it, because I do, but also because living off being creative in insanely hard. You can not afford not to be inspired, you have to work even when no ideas come, you have to live with some of your work being less that your best if you want to eat. So yes I am happy I am not a writer.