I intend to publish something on BlogAndrew every day this year. So on page 1 of 365, let me explain why I think being a writer is one of the most important professions in 2013 and beyond.
I didn’t start out as a writer. I used to be a finance geek who thought that if an action didn’t add to productivity or profitability, it was a big waste of time. I just wanted to make money by creating valuable assets and buying buildings. I read books on the globalization of investment banking and candlestick charting. I even had a stint where I traded S&P futures using an algorithm I developed to predict the market with Twitter data (I still think it works), but I lost most of my money.
I was lucky enough to fail hard and often. Instead of just getting what I wanted, life allowed me to fail enough that I began to question my assumptions. I still love finance, but somewhere along my journey, the idea of making money to make money lost its luster. The 2013 version of myself thinks the writer – the artist – is one of the most valuable professions in our modern world. Here’s why:
1. Industrialization is done.
In 1883, this blog post might say “Why I’m an Industrialist.” In 1983, it might say “Why I’m a Computer Engineer.” But in this world, the infrastructure has already been built. Your home doesn’t need a more efficient air conditioner and your iPhone doesn’t need to be any faster. Innovation will always be crucial, but the industrial models that provide a comfortable and safe life have been taken as far as we need them to go.
We had a period of industrial breakthrough that was incredibly important, but as those things get more and more efficient, the gains are superfluous. No matter what we think, the world just doesn’t need any more carbon-copy analysts to work on the system. Adding more cogs to the already cluttered wheel is not only useless, but increases the danger that things will blow themselves up.
What will lead us forward in this new world are not the processes of yesterday, but the human beings who can give us meaning beyond the infrastructure. In other words, the artists. Unlike the past, I think our future world will be defined more by the individual’s humanity than by the job she performs. The industrial complex is dead, but the human soul is needed now more than ever.
2. Currency has changed.
Look, I want to get the maximum value for my time. Over the last century, this would have meant acquiring as much currency as possible because currency was the measure of value. Writing would not have earned me much of this currency.
Things don’t work that way anymore. If you haven’t noticed, our fiat currency doesn’t really have much value anyways and it is constantly manipulated.
To get the most bang for your buck in this new world, I would focus on people. People don’t depreciate and their annual rate of return in value far exceeds any office building I’ve seen on the market.
If you want to acquire this human value, how do you do it? Generosity. You offer real people something that adds depth and richness to their experience of being human. You make their life more meaningful. You give them art.
Writing is simply the purest expression of that generosity for me. Because, whether it is a 100-word blog post or a 100,000-word novel, I am offering all of myself and asking nothing in return. The value I get from that experience is greater than currency.
Sure, one might still need dollars or yuan to buy tomatoes, but I can’t imagine that being a problem for anyone who has offered enough generosity. When you change someone’s life in a profound way, they will offer you as much of the old currency as you can handle. But don’t be surprised if it seems hollow in comparison with the new generosity-led currency.
3. In a world of noise, art is scarce
The world is craving artists like never before. People might not be conscious of it, but when they see something that nourishes their TV-addicted souls, they sit up and pay attention.
I’m hesitant to even mention this because art, unlike finance, is not a numbers game. The goal of art is not to attract herds. The goal is to find one. If you seek to create art that is cherished by the masses, it will merely be another me-too product that attracts no one.
I think the real artist tries to push away by doing something that challenges, breaks apart, and destroys what has been done before. Most people will not understand your art and that’s a good thing. But for each person who does get it, you have created something extraordinary and life-changing. The point here is that in this world, the numbers of people who are ready to understand your art are growing exponentially.
This is why I write. I don’t want to give you answers or advice or instruction manuals or guidebooks or checklists. I just want to share my humanity with yours. In that connection, I think, magic can happen.
Until page 2, I’ll leave you with the words of the writer Junot Diaz – “In a world of many vocations, this seems like not a bad one.”
Image Credit: jjpacres