What is it that separates the artist, whether it’s a painter, a plumber or a sandwich maker from the non-artist in any field? The answer is that the artist is an emotional laborer. It’s up to the emotional laborer to do the work that comes from your heart and your gut, not your muscles and not even intellect alone.
As I’ve read and tried to learn more about the origin of the concept of emotional labor, I’ve been troubled by some of the things that I’ve read. This article here makes most of the arguments against emotional labor, but it seems that definition of emotional labor here is something where an organization “forces” a certain kind of positive or negative facade depending on whatever the outcome is that an organization is looking for… And… I’ve found many articles that have said that this can lead to strain, stress and the detriment of an employee’s health… no kidding!? Really!!!?
When I talk about emotional labor, I’m not talking about some disingenuous bullshit facade where you parrot back positive statements or mirror some kind of phoniness…. man, that’s about as far in the other direction of what I’m talking about as things can get.
Emotional labor, for me, means feeling the fire in your gut, that visceral feeling to just do really good work, to bring your vision forth, to make something, do something, be something that the world has not witness in *your* way before.
After doing some of this reading, I felt that I really needed to clarify how I define emotional labor and most of you probably got my perspective, anyway.