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Suffering For Your Art

I was chatting with a friend and fellow writer the other day. We were discussing a few of the stresses involved in creating books and I jokingly made the comment, “Why do we do this to ourselves?”

Of course, I know why I do it and I have a good idea of why everyone does as well. But it reminded me of an epiphany that I had in High School. I was a mega thespian (theatre geek) in High School. I lived and breathed it during after school hours. It was most definitely my thing. I have never been sporty. I don’t find joy or satisfaction in playing sports. In sixth grade we had a school wide track meet. I sprinted as quick as I could and ended up being pretty fast, which meant that I was forced to be on the track team. I participated reluctantly and while I didn’t hate it, I certainly didn’t love it either. So it always puzzled me that anyone would want to exhaust themselves day after day trying to perform difficult physical feats. My best friend was a track star and I remember looking at her, thinking, “Why would you do that to yourself?”

Then it came time for the play I was in to be performed. It was a week we lovingly refer to as “hell week,” complete with dress rehearsals, lighting run-throughs, and then three nights of performance. I would sometimes resort to bringing a stuffed animal to school with me to hang onto and keep me calm. I called it my stress fish/cow/whatever animal.

Photo on 3-19-14 at 11.38 AM
Yes. This is THE stress cow, bought for me by my mother.
Photo on 3-19-14 at 11.39 AM
And THE stress fish that I used more than 10 years ago.

It was a hard week, the culmination of hours upon hours of practice, memorization, and pouring our hearts into our characters. It was exhausting, and the week following hell week usually resulted in half of us staying home sick from school as our bodies crashed.


Yet, I never wondered why I did it. I never wondered why I put myself through this insanity. And I realized that the reasons my best friend wore her body out trying to be the best at what she did was the same reason I emotionally flogged myself for the sake of theater.

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Me, in all my theatrical glory.

We do it because we love it. I have never met anyone unwilling to suffer for their art. But it has to be their art. It has to be their love and passion. So whether your art is fine arts, athletics, intellect, business, computer, performance—whatever it is—when you find your art, it tends to not feel so much like suffering.

When you love something, you forget it’s work.


Published inIndie AuthoringWriting Process


  1. Jana Jana

    I was thinking about this recently when one of my young women was totally dead during her youth theater’s “hell week,” wondering if it was worth it to her….guess if she keeps doing it, it is! I love your passion. (And you should imagine me saying “passion” in an Italian accent.)

  2. Karen Rowley Karen Rowley

    Very insightful Annette! As your mom I loved that you had such a passion you would give every bit of energy for. You were awesome in those plays! Me proud Mama!

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