Monday, July 14, 2014

Guest Post: Michael Cairns - Art & Fatherhood

The following is a guest blog post from Michael Cairnes as part of The Planets Blog Tour of July 2014.

ART & FATHERHOOD by Michael Cairns

Every week day I get up and go to work. And every day when I get to work, at the horribly early hour of 6:50, I sit at my drums for half an hour and practice, then I sit at my desk and write for forty minutes. At eight, school begins and I put my other head on.

When I get home, after time with my family and my daughter is in bed, I open my laptop and put in an average of 3 hours on writing, editing and marketing I do this every single day, day in day out. I do it because I love it and I do it because I feel compelled. And I do it because I want to be able to say to my daughter that I never gave up on doing the things I love and following my dreams.

There’s more to it than that though. I also do it because I believe that every single person can make a living doing what they love. Not what they’ve come to like because they didn’t have any choice, but what they truly know, in their heart of hearts, they are destined to do. I want my daughter to grow up believing that as deeply as she can.

The world in which we live is both a creative’s paradise and at complete odds with the way we, as creatives, want to live. It is a world dominated by money and its power over how we live our lives. But it also has more people consuming more art than at any other time in history. This has led to a world in which millions of people are creative but far too many of them hide it, or view it as a pastime that has no more value than watching the latest episode of blah blah blah. 

As a secondary school teacher, I deal every day with students whose parents have told them not to take or study music because it won’t get them anywhere, and because they won’t learn anything useful. After scraping the blood off the walls, I calmly explain to the students that their now sadly-deceased parents were wrong. I explain that art can give you something no amount of money ever will.  But I know as I’m drumming this into them that I am fighting against a tide of belief that art, and the creation of it, are somewhat secondary in our culture. A frivolous nice to have but not worthy of any real commitment or as a career choice in its own right.

Art and the creation of art develops skills. It develops the skills of perseverance and dedication. It develops the ability to think using all parts of your brain. It gives you the chance to appreciate things that normal life rushes you past before you even notice it. Art gives you stillness in times of chaos and it gives you energy when all you want to do is sleep. It develops self-belief and self-confidence and above all, it teaches you that life is about more than consuming.

I would like my children to grow up believing that art is as valuable to the world as food and sleep and far more important than money.

Why is it as important as food and sleep?

Because we are no longer hunter-gatherers. Because, for the vast, lucky majority of us, our lives can and should mean more than surviving. And this is where art comes in. Art, meaning stories, paintings, music, dance, theatre, and many other things, reminds us of all the worlds that exist beyond us. We are not isolated vessels, drifting through dangerous seas. We are part of the sea and the more art we appreciate, the more of other people soul’s we look into, the more we become one.

Art brings us together, even when our taste leads us to disagree. In that thought, in that elevation from animals to thinking beings, we become closer.

I want my daughter to be part of that world. I want her to bring people closer together. I want her to feel rich in her heritage of coming from a family in which art and the sheer pleasure of creation is valued as highly as any other skill. And I want her to remember that her dreams, no matter what they are, are blueprints for her life, signposts to be followed to happiness.

Chocoholic Michael Cairns is a writer and author of the superhero fantasy series, The Planets and science fiction adventure series, A Game of War. A musician, father and school teacher, when not writing he can be found behind his drum kit, tucking into his chocolate stash or trying, and usually failing, to outwit his young daughter.

Download a free copy of Michael's novella Childhood Dreams (A Game of War, Part one) at -- you will also find podcasts, free short stories, info about Michael, and of course, links to where you can buy his books. Check out The Planets Blog Tour

The Spirit Room on Kobo, Kindle and Smashwords 


Anonymous said...

I came to this post via ArchivesDay, and read every word. What an incredible essay, and one that deserves an audience. As a writer myself (urban fantasy/steampunk) and even more as a parent, I have to agree with the need for our children to learn that art and music and literature are as important as math and science to helping them grow into fully rounded humans. (I was so kids all had teachers like Michael Cairns to show them the possibilities. Two daughters are professional writers, and the third is my co-author!) Thank you so much for sharing this!

Mark Leslie said...

Thanks so much for the kind comment, Barb. I will make sure it gets back to Michael. Best of luck to you with your own writing! :)

Unknown said...

Hi Barb
Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.
It's wonderful that you co-write with one of your children, that's something for me to aspire to!
Mike :)