Is the Grass Really Greener in Ireland?

I’ve had the pleasure of counting many makers, artists, creatives, and writers as my friends. And every week, I meet more. Today, I met a woman from New Zealand who is currently living in Ireland and working as a woodturner. She sells the Christmas ornaments, bowls, candlesticks, and vases she makes, and I assume she gets by. 

I mentioned I was an author and she told me that in Ireland, writers and visual artists are not required to pay taxes. I did a little research and found that also applies to composers and sculptors. Anyone working in those mediums—if the works meet the criteria of “artistic or cultural merit” as defined by the law—can apply for exemption from some taxes. There’s a bit more to it, but you get the gist. 

This wonderful lady, though, told me this bit of information with a hint of resentment in her voice. Why shouldn’t she, who is also creating art, be exempt, especially if the art is related to Ireland? That’s a good question. And here we go again . . . we artists and creatives can’t help but compare who has it harder or who has it worse. Some would say that since she can turn out and sell numerous pieces a year, whereas it takes me more than a year to create a single book, she is in better standing. And some might argue if my book takes off, and I sell a million copies, that is far more than she will ever sell of her unique pieces. And each of us acknowledged that we have expenses the general public knows nothing about, not to mention the high commissions taken by our vendors. 

My point is, all creatives have their challenges, and we are far more alike than we are different. A theater owner has the pressure of filling seats, a writer must produce a book people want to read, a painter has to sell a certain number of paintings to make a profit, etc. We all have the headaches of marketing and the heartaches of dealing with critics. But we are all, I hope, doing what we love, what we feel we were put on this earth to do. 

So we may be sitting on different swings, but we are pumping our legs equally hard, trying to get as high as we can. And once in a while, we can look over and see our fellow artists swinging in unison. If we choose to, we can reach out, grab hands, and soar together.

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