Speaking with a self-described starving artist recently, I wondered if pay influences the outcome of art. By art I mean, all forms of creative expression (painting, photography, music, writing, etc.). My initial response is yes, it does. For evidence I point to most artist’s second major work and the infamous sophomore curse. I could tick off many examples, but it’d be just mean to list them. I’m trying to decide, though, if it’s the money or the fame (ego) that kick-starts the curse. Perhaps money and fame have a synergistic effect on the artist that can’t be separated or replicated in a control study. Maybe someone will point-out an example where an artist received loads of money and fame from a first work and their subsequent work was better than the first.

There are many examples where the second work is sub-par (that bar was pretty darn high, though), but the third and later are excellent, and the artist goes on to produce a great body of work. Is J.K. Rowling an example? Probably not, since she had the entire series of Harry Potter mapped out before the first book was published.

Many writers I know state a goal of being able to live off their writing and leave their “real jobs” someday. Now that I’ve started submitting poems for publication (ah! the fame of a literary journal!) and the reward of pay or contest winnings, I wonder how my own writing will be influenced once I get paid for a poem. I keep a detailed listing of initial draft dates, final draft dates, and submission dates. Of course, I can not be a legitimate experiment because of my beliefs that pay will influence me and my awareness of the issue (Heisenberg principle at work).

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.