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Rants: OT & OTT > "the only child" sniff

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message 1: by Wayne (new)

Wayne McNeill (waynemcneill) | 50 comments I read something a while ago saying that "an only child" tends to become an artist of some sort. Hmm. Well, maybe. I haven't read the stats. I was one and a little isolation might push a kid inward a bit. I kept journals when I was in high school. But there was probably a kid with no brothers and sisters down the street who liked to stick firecrackers in the mouths of little frogs from the creek in Thomson Park. I have no idea what the creative impulse is all about. But those of us who feel the need, and it really is a need, stick to it daily.


message 2: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Beard (jabeard) I'm one of three brothers myself.


message 3: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments I was one of six - but in the middle...too young to play with the older ones, to old to play with the younger ones.


message 4: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
I think it's bullshit, Wayne. I'm the eldest of three brothers, from a family which is full of artists of one kind or another, in which for generations there were only large families.

But it's probably true that artists are born, and not made. Of course I can turn anyone into a publishable writer, but that's a party trick, me showing off. The custom-made writer will never be very good, or happy. Most of the wannabe writers we see in indieland first and most of all want the appearance of being a writer; they see the writing as a burden they have to carry on the way to the sunlit upland where money and fame awaits them. Real writers, as you say, write because they like telling stories.


message 5: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments Andre Jute wrote: "I think it's bullshit, Wayne. I'm the eldest of three brothers, from a family which is full of artists of one kind or another, in which for generations there were only large families.

But it's pro..."


Where's the 'like' button on this machine?


message 6: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Thank you, Katie. You can blow me a kiss across the oceans instead and when it arrives I shall paste it to my cheek.


message 7: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments Andre Jute wrote: "Thank you, Katie. You can blow me a kiss across the oceans instead and when it arrives I shall paste it to my cheek."

Mwuaa! Ffffffff....


message 8: by J.D. (last edited Mar 20, 2013 10:48PM) (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 97 comments I'm the youngest of six. If I don't write, I get irritable. I've been telling stories for my friends since I was a child.

The fact that I wasn't an "only" says nothing about whether people who were "onlys" are more or less likely to be artists, but I'd want to see some stats on that assertion.

It could be that only children are indulged in their whims and praised for their wishes more than those who are members of a larger brood, and so they end up self-identifying as "artists" (who might happen to be working as waiters or grocery clerks at the moment, temporarily, until they get their big break) more frequently than the middle and youngest children who self-identify as computer programmers or brickmasons who happen to write or paint as a hobby.


message 9: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
I like that, J.D. I'm happy to self-identify as a hobbyist whose hobbies turn into professions. Whatever I am interested in will eventually become a profession.


message 10: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Beard (jabeard) Telling stories is my primary motivation for writing (which may be why I like a desire to write the "great literary novel*" or whatever).

The whole "suffering for my muse" thing is very foreign to me. Writing is fun. Sure, editing can be a chore, but considering the "chores" associated with most of my working adult life and my previous military service, it's still pretty darn fun.

I used to have some other outlets for this, but they all kind of dried up throughout the years, so I migrated more and more to writing.


message 11: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Yah, if I had to live in a garret and be hungry "for my art", I'd be doing something else by morning.


message 12: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Tillotson (storytellerauthor) | 1802 comments Jeremy wrote: "...The whole "suffering for my muse" thing is very foreign to me. Writing is fun. Sure, editing can be a chore, but considering the "chores" associated with most of my working adult life and my previous military service, it's still pretty darn fun..."

Ditto me. I don't even mind the editing (at least until the 3rd or 4th round), the hope is it will make the writing better. But I detest the promotion end of things, ergo my book wallows in obscurity. (Yeah, that's not the only reason, :))

6th of 7, five brothers, one sister, none of whom are particularly artistic and I suspect think their little sis is weird.


message 13: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments Andre Jute wrote: "Yah, if I had to live in a garret and be hungry "for my art", I'd be doing something else by morning."

I went into IT when I figured out that writing wasn't going to make enough to pay the bills, let alone pay for my horse. So I studied harder and did better in college so I could afford my horse. (I wanted a horse more than I wanted kids.)


message 14: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Well, writing has always paid my bills, but not nearly as generously as being a banker or a hidden persuader or a sportsman did. Every single writer I know who makes a living at it could do much better financially by applying the same talent and drive to another profession. In fact, most make more out of journalism than out of their books. But this isn't a new condition; it's always been thus.


message 15: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 97 comments Andre Jute wrote: "I like that, J.D. I'm happy to self-identify as a hobbyist whose hobbies turn into professions. Whatever I am interested in will eventually become a profession."

That seems to be my trend, too.


message 16: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
As the mother of an aspiring drama queen who makes up stories and draws, teaches herself how to play musical instruments, I don't think it is an only child thing. She's the younger by 2 years and has a dramatic nature. I suspect she'll go into some line of work one day where her creative nature will play a predominant role. My oldest on the other hand likes making stories of a comic book nature up. He hates sharing it with anyone but every now and then he plops a page down under my nose. He has the imagination but not the drive.

In various generations of my own family we've had mostly unsuccessful artistic types. I do however agree with the sentiment that an only child is lavished with praise for every little thing but that doesn't drive one to create.


message 17: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
My mom used to point to an only child I knew who was spoilt rotten, and say, "He'll turn out bad." Fifteen years later she was pointing to him and saying, "See how well he has turned out. His mother never has to remind him to write home from the other side of the world." Of course she didn't have to remind him. He still lived with her! My girlfriend had a sharp lip. She said, "His mother deserves what she did to him." I laughed so hard after I worked it out, I drove my Porsche clear across the divider and into the lane for oncoming traffic.


message 18: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
LOL! I know a few onlies. Most have turned out ok but some have turned out real Mama's boys and girls.


message 19: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments I'm 13 years younger than my sister. That's quite a difference.


message 20: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
That's a whole generation. I'm older by 5.5 years. Sometimes that too feels like a different generation.


message 21: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Tillotson (storytellerauthor) | 1802 comments K.A. wrote: "I'm 13 years younger than my sister. That's quite a difference."

That's almost two only children, Kat, except you'd have had to share your sis at just the time when your parents would have had to deal with her puberty. That could not have been easy...


message 22: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments It wasn't. Luckily I had a cousin 3 years younger who was more like a sister. We had all kinds of fun.


message 23: by Matt (new)

Matt Posner (mattposner) | 276 comments I'm an only child. My parents are both musicians. I was alone a lot growing up and spent time reading. When I played with my toys I envisioned the play as being TV series and movies. Although I have some musical talent, not as much as my parents have, but in writing I was able to find an art where I could develop to a mature level. Is this related to my being an only child? Perhaps all that solitary playtime made a difference. Reading constantly and watching a lot of TV were skill-builders.


message 24: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments It is always interesting to read the childhoods of other writers.


message 25: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 160 comments I'm one of three boys. We read, we fought, we had orange wars outside (too many orange trees in the garden...we repurposed the oranges), we did our chores. No television allowed in the house. Lots of musical instruments, huge sets of lead soldiers from my dad's childhood that were constantly deployed into massive battles (I'm sure the lead poisoned us somehow, resulting in us all growing up happily).


message 26: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
I grew up in a country which didn't have television. Everybody else had television but my government liked keeping close control of the means of communication.

The first thing Dzerzhinsky did when the Bolsheviks took over in Russia was to cut off everyone else's communications. They couldn't post a letter, make a phone call, send a carrier pigeon. It's probably in one of the volumes of my series COLD WAR, HOT PASSIONS.


message 27: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 160 comments I think the West is approaching that same kind of control but via a different route. Obviously, no one is outlawing TV or the internet, but the content is becoming so dumb that it's the equivalent of zero communication.

Just my pet paranoid theory.


message 28: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
I think that, if Orwell were alive today, he'd start wondering if his predictions in Animal Farm and 1984 didn't somehow play a part in engendering the outcome they forecast. As an honorable man, he'd have no alternative but to commit a painful suicide.


message 29: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Hallowell | 97 comments I don't know that there would be a requirement for it to necessarily be painful, Andre.

I agree that he'd be horrified to find that some today seem to be using his books as instruction manuals. Of course, he was writing about the natural evolution of what he'd already seen happening in the decades before he wrote the book, so he might not be too surprised by any of it, except possibly the fact that the technology now has the capacity to make it all far easier than he imagined.


message 30: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
Christopher wrote: "I think the West is approaching that same kind of control but via a different route. Obviously, no one is outlawing TV or the internet, but the content is becoming so dumb that it's the equivalent of zero communication.

Just my pet paranoid theory. ..."


Not so paranoid. I agree wholeheartedly with your theory.

Every other night my husband and I look at each other and say there's nothing to watch! Yet we sit in front of the stupid box. Everything has been dumbed down from tv shows to the way "new" authors write. We pay around 77 US $ for poor tv, most of what we watch is sport or history shows or worthwhile programming on Discovery (of which there isn't much to choose from these days) and National Geographic. The rest is utter rubbish.


message 31: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Can't you somehow get the BBC? BBC4 is loaded with good quality programmes from the arts and the sciences, prepared for the Open University. The other BBC channels often have worthwhile material. For instance, I look forward all week to "I, Claudius" made from Robert Graves' fine novel. I put aside a special hour on Tuesday nights to watch it.


message 32: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
Not that channel. We get one of the Prime channels that has programmes that are about 6 months out of date in comparison, plus one news channel. I've seen adverts for I, Claudius and wish it was available here.

As it is, a pay-per-view channel has just been given the go ahead for 3 porn channels to be aired between 8pm and 5am. First for SA. No other tv channel has been granted rights to do so, not that they've applied I think.


message 33: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Porn channels... Tells you something about an order of priorities.

Here in Ireland, for simply putting up a satellite dish, we get all the British socalled Free to Air channels. They broadcast everything we want to see. I looked at the pay-channel Sky but it has only the rubbish that we would pay to avoid.


message 34: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 160 comments I feel your pain, Claudine. It's a pity that subscribers simply can't contract a la carte for channels. My wife and I decided to just not have TV. If there's something specific we want to watch, we either get it on Hulu or wait for it to come out on DVD. We read a lot.


message 35: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
The problem here Christopher is that bandwidth is a huge issue. Many parts of the country still have analogue telephone lines with fibre optic slowly replacing analogue in city centres. Cable access and access to fast download lines are horribly expensive and watching something online simply isn't possible for most homeowners who surf the net in their free time with a limited bandwidth option.

We have a legacy of state-owned enterprises, one of which is the state broadcasting body. Way back in 1975 under the old apartheid regime they didn't really want to expose South Africans to tv from abroad, mainly I suspect because they didn't want the general population to see how this country was portrayed in the international media and also because that age old argument of tv corrupts was a big thing. At the time, Christian doctrine ruled which meant that tv was seen as a real evil and would corrupt naive white young minds.

Some time in the mid to late 80s the first pay-per-view tv station applied and was given broadcasting rights in direct opposition to the state owned tv station, which was still the only tv company up to that point. Everything was controlled. Currently we have the state owned entity, which changes it's board as often as anyone would change their underwear and is bankrupt for all intents and purposes, the broadcaster that applied for licensing in the 80s and the new broadcaster which is one from China I believe. The newest one has had endless problems which is why they've applied and been granted the porn channel rights to boost their bottom line.

The one that's been around since the 80s is the one that we have. We pay the equivalent of almost 70 US $ per month for which we have 7 or 8 news channels, about 12 sports channels, around 5 or 6 movie channels, one that broadcasts series and a handful that are local content driven. They also have CNN, Sky News, BBC News, a handful of music channels and a whole range of national and international radio station as well as Animal Planet, Discovery, Nat Geo, TLC, Crime channel and some random others.

Their content though leaves a lot to be desired in general as it is of the reality tv variety which I detest. If it wasn't for the brilliant national and international sports channels and channels like Nat Geo and the History channel, we'd consider cancelling altogether.


message 36: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Hmm. You're in exactly the same position as us, Claudine, except that we have the BBC and ITV channels where there is still a stream of quality drama and documentary production. For instance, last night I watched to the end of an episode of "Endeavour" that my wife picked out for me. It is about the youth of Colin Dexter's famous detective Inspector Morse, pretty good stuff. There isn't enough of the new good stuff, but some of the channels fill in by showing good old stuff (I wish they'd bring back "When the Boat Comes In" with James Bolam) so you can always find a "Cheers" or an "NCIS" if you flip quickly past the wasteland of cheap programming called "reality tv". Fortunately, one of the channels we get is bound to show the Open University programmes and these are carefully made to be both authoritative and entertaining even as they instruct. (I'm an expert on Dutch high art and design, and the recent set of programmes on its history didn't put a foot wrong).

Of course, where I say above that "you can always find", I speak as someone who watches television for perhaps three hours a week, often less, and has his consumption carefully chosen by someone else to appeal to his taste. When there is nothing to be chosen, we show our own repeats of old movies from our shelves, and every year we show the Harry Potters again, and the Tolkien cycle, and some standby thrillers (the current stack holds "Speed" and both the "National Treasure" movies, and "The Prestige" -- recommended both as a book and a movie). I'd probably go nuts if I had to depend on television for a full day's mental stimulation, or even a whole evening. My threshold for rubbish is pretty low.


message 37: by Claudine (new)

Claudine | 1110 comments Mod
We started doing family movie nights on Saturdays last year simply because of the amount of dreck on tv. We've got the Tolkien movies, Matrix trilogy which my kids love, and a few others we watch from time to time.

We're able to record on the black box thingy too so have some worthwhile movies as a standby.

Generally, I watch maybe an hour a night - we enjoy Shameless and Californication from the US which are both in their most current series here (not the Shameless UK version, though I wish we could get a few episodes to compare). Then there's Elementary, an updated more modern version of Sherlocke Holmes which fills a dreary half hour or so on the odd occasion. Other than that, we watch a lot of sports but mainly on weekends and I often leave the VH1 80s music channel on during the day instead of listening to a radio channel. More often than not I read.

Kids don't watch tv during the week apart from Big Bang Theory which they just love as well as the current Australian MasterChef. For some reason, they both enjoy the show. Other than that, tv is banned to the weekends when it is too cold to do anything else or there isn't a worthwhile programme on Discovery/History/Animal Planet or Nat Geo. More often than not both are lying on the couch reading a book while the tv plays music in the background.


message 38: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Kids of discrimination... Congratulations.


message 39: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Beard (jabeard) Even though I'm not particularly anti-TV, though I did convince my wife to eliminate cable (mostly because I didn't want to spend the money). We still could watch a lot between Hulu and various other streaming options, but once I got rid of it, our television watching all but ground to a halt, and we mostly read and write more.


message 40: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
I'm definitely anti-tv. When our child was born, we chucked the goggle box out and didn't get one again until he was twelve.


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