I've been catching up lately with the work of an old L.A. favorite, solo performer/essayist/Renaissance woman Sandra Tsing Loh. Her latest play-soon-to-be-a-book is Mother on Fire, which among other things is a fascinating cross-section of a struggling post-boomer class of college-educated creative people who fall a few salary zeroes short of "bobo," a defiantly downmarket class I know all too well--firsthand, you might say--whose concerns and discontents are conspicuously under-represented in the well-heeled chattering classes. There's a lot of great Loh material worth linking to (a great place to start), but this interview in the Pittsburgh Post & Gazette last year is frank, funny, and illuminating (including on the topic of why this class of average arty-smarty folks is so poorly represented). And then, near the end, this passage packed a sting of recognition:
I've come to a point in my career that my art is just a burden that my friends have to shoulder, where you go, "I'm doing another play!" And they go, "Oh no!" How useful is it really to make art and who really cares? We always had that thing of writers sending out short stories to literary magazines that nobody reads. I have to have art that speaks to my community, so I'm reexamining the whole notion of how great it is to be an artist. Not that I don't enjoy it.
Her interlocutor puts it well: Loh's "lack of self-pity is striking." I'd call it devastating.