I procrastinate. I wait. I find at midnight that I’ve lost my jump drive, and even though everything is saved onto my laptop, I must clean the kitchen, then the bed room, the bathroom, anywhere until I find it.
As Monday bleed to Tuesday.
Or is it Friday.
Does it matter anymore?
heavy eyes give in. I lose
Always the same dream.
Sometimes I’m 17, or 25 or 34.
Sometimes I don’t even know.
But there I am walking down the hallway. Step by Step.
….because you sucked all the fun out of it poets and magazine editors in your pretentious quest to make poetry some higher more grand form of art…..
I was reminded of the fact that so many poets (and many artists in general) are pretentious, stuck-up and just rude to new writers. A “friend”of mine a few weeks ago had a status mocking someone that she had rejected for the online journal she started. The sheer joy that she took in mocking another individual was outrageous, especially the other artist friends of hers that joined in.
And I grew angry.
What right did she have to mock another writer? Is she any more qualified to say what is good art and what is bad than anyone else? So what, she paid a few bucks to throw up a website. Anyone could do that. She had a few poems published. Oh well, most writers do at some point right, especially if you are friends with the editors.
And I was reminded of all of the horrible experiences that I have had over the years: the journals who couldn’t even send me a form letter of response, the instructors and other artist who I met that shamed my publications for not being in “good” magazines but then when published in the same or similar journals acted like they were God’s gift to poetry, the professors who told me good poetry can’t rhyme, the journals that said they would accept my work if I paid for their editing services first, the critique sessions I went through where people just tore into each other instead of saying anything productive……
And I was reminded how I hate this part of the art world.
So, as a some-what successful artist, I’d like to say, just stop.
Art is beautiful. Even crappy art. It’s beautiful because someone took the time to make it. And while it may not be amazing, there is always something you can take from it and room to improve.
And art is practice. Most people don’t start off amazing. Give support. Give advice.
Stop making art this grad excessive mountain to summit and focus of the beautiful journey it is.
Also stay tune, this rouge artist just had two more poems accepted for publication…..but I’m sure my artist friends would not be fond of the journal ( 🙂 )
Publishing is a game. You learn that early in your studies if you go through an university. Be it an scholarly journal or creative writing, it’s all hoops you have to jump through to establish yourself and further your career. And the more you become engrossed in it, the more you realized it’s not just about talent, but who you know and how much press they will get for publishing you…..
Why is it that way? Because they say so.
Now, I’m not sure who they are. Though I suspect it might be the publishers and those profiting off of mine and yours work….
I also think that’s partly why being an indie writer is so looked down up.
Ok, we will get it out of the way. The problem with vanity press is that anyone can do it. And frankly there are so god-awful works that in my opinion see the light of day. There are also a lot of scams, and publishers that try to hide that you will be footing the bill, so if you do wanna pursue vanity press, research it and do it because you want your work out there…..
But if you do self-publish in any form, expect to be look down upon for it.
“Oh you’re an author, who published your work?”
That might be my least favorite part about the writing game. This weird need that most artist have to inflate their own work at the cost of others. I remember excitedly telling a professor of my first real publication (in a fairly respected online journal) only to have him brush it aside….*in a stuffy accent* “well if you’re still writing and publishing when your forty, then we will know you have what it takes to be a writer”….just to have him a few months later blow up my Facebook feed with how amazing the journal was and blah blah blah because his wife had a poem published here….
….Don’t even get my started of a few of my friends who decided to start their own journals…..Somehow editing an online webpage and calling it a journal must turn nice rational people into cut-throat, pretentious snobs. Stories. So many….more than I care to share of how the publishing/promotion game has soured perfectly nice people.
It’s like all writers are perpetually stuck in high school, insecure jocks that have to pick on everyone else around them in a desperate attempt to hide the fact that they aren’t gods among men.
But that wasn’t always the case. In the 19th century it was common for established writers to pay for publishing their own books.
(A stolen bit for Wikipedia for you from their vanity press article. Let your “More you know star”shine:)
Ernest Vincent Wright, author of the 1939 novel Gadsby, famous for being written entirely in lipogram, was unable to find a publisher for his unusual work and ultimately chose to publish it through a vanity press.
(By the way, if you go back to the early early days of publishing, there are way more writers that are well known that used vanity publishing at one point or another in their career…but anyway back to my own thoughts.)
But the truth is that success or failure is not guarantee your art is good. Emily Dickinson had only a handful of poems published in her lifetime, still she is greatly studied, admired and remembers. Yet, Ursula Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea which was immensely popular in the 1970’s and was later borrowed heavily upon for a certian scared-wizard series is almost completely forgotten.
Time and people can only tell us how art stands the test of time and who it can affect. As far as I can see, the more art that is out there, on any level, the more chance for us to grow and discover. And how do you measure success? Frankly, if one poem/essay/play/story I write helps one person, then I consider it a success. And when you consider the ripple effects, well, it’s hard not to make a case for more art in this work isn’t it?
In short, yet blogs, indie publishing and vanity press have no standards. They are the mutts of the art world. But it is still art. And some of it is darn fine.
So if anyone gives you crap for being , a self-publish artist or vanity press artist, tell them at least you had the guts to do something with you life and put yourself out there.
Over the weekend, I had what I consider to be a dangerous and disturbing conversation in what I consider to be a trend of dangerous and disturbing conversations of late.
It always starts the same way:
I mention that I am an artist and that one day, ideally I’d like to make a living that way.
The person freezes for a moment to process and then the person I’m talking to gets that look.
The you are a moron look, what the hell is wrong with you look.
Followed by 12 seconds of “Oooooooooh…..”
“Do you know how hard it is? You will be poor for the rest of your life. How delusional are you? “
In short, you want to be an artist, what the hell is wrong with you?
I have had friends whose parents destroyed their art, threw away their note books and told them in no uncertain terms, if they want to be an artist, they won’t have parents.
My question is why? Because it’s hard and a waste of time? Because I won’t make it.
Well to that I say….. Life is hard.
Being a doctor is hard. Most things worth pursuing are hard. Does this mean you shouldn’t give it a try? And what if you don’t make it nationally, if you are only a local artist, or don’t make it until you are dead? What is making it anyway? If it it a fulfilling hobby that isn’t harmful to a person, shouldn’t it be encouraged.
I am reminded of my teen years, when my friends and I used to get in trouble with the cops because we would walk around town starring at stars (mine you we were 18 and had no state curfew) and discussing life’s mysteries. Still, every time would walk around, the cops would pull over and hassle us. This enraged me because I came from a small town and they knew us. We could have been drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around, things that may be harmful to a person, instead, we spent our time productively exploring the universe.Still, because we were easy to harass. We were docile and available.
It’s the same with art. I could be doing a hundred different destructive things with my life but instead, I decided to channel my life in a productive way. What is so wrong with that?Some people play DnD.Some people build cars.I write.
Life and worth isn’t based on money.
Hey I get it, you need money to live. And having a stable job does make it easier. However, many artist, most artist, such as I, do have a full-time job. We make money during the day and at night and on weekend, we are warriors, typing away in our dungeons.
But if I, an adult, decide with my life to pursue art with no thought of money, isn’t that my choice to make? Does accumulating wealth make life more worth-while?
Should people never be missionaries, nuns or priests because they don’t make money? What you contribute to this world, I hope can be measure in more than dollars and cents.
Art isn’t about money.
I was a college athletic. And let me tell you, by the time you reach college, playing sports becomes a lot less fun. You have no free time, between class, practice, conditioning and games. You come home late at night from a game and have to stay up for hours doing homework then have to wake up early for practice or class. And repeat day after day.
There are times you hate it, hate the thing that once drove you.
But you do it. Because in the end, you love the sport. It’s part of you.
It’s the same with art. Being an artist isn’t always fun. It’s a huge time contribution with little or no payoff. And don’t get me started on the rejection…..
But, even if I never tried to have a single thing published, I would continue to be an artist until the day I die. It’s part of who I am. I could stop as easily as you could stop breathing. And if I don’t write, I feel an emptiness inside, a nagging voice that is screaming for me for release.
Art is a beautiful thing. It lets know to look into the void and scream, you are not alone. I hear you. I see you. I feel what you feel.
So yes, I do know it’s hard.
I know I might not ever make money and that I might not ever be famous.
And I’d have it no other way.
And I’m ok with that. Have a little faith in me. I know what I need to do to feel fulfilled in this life.