The Artiste and the Professional
My dad died last week. Not a surprise. I’d been waiting that call. A toss up whether it would be Mom or Dad who went first.
I’ve always thought of myself as the Artiste, the dilettante, writing spontaneously. Just enough of a professional to respond to kicks in the rear—usually self-afflicted—to stay on task and at least pretend to be a professional. And I really need to be a professional today, and for the next couple of weeks.
So I’ve got my head down, trying to keep on track as I sit in the quiet of the house I grew up in. I need to write, to edit, to do a cover. And Blog.
I think we writers are all a combination of artist and professional. We need the inspiration, the vision of what we want to create, but we also have to be businesslike in our production, in our awareness of the market, the traps in contracts. Indies especially cannot neglect the business side of their careers.
Me? What do I need to do, to be professional? I told too many people—readers of mine, for the most part—that I would be releasing seven titles this winter. And I’d only released the first. But the second was ready to go. So I wiped a tear and published it.
And the third book is . . . odd. I need to reread it and get ready to kick it out the door. Heh. As if I’m in any condition to tell if my characters are angsting enough or not. As if I give a damn if the cover is brilliant, or merely good enough. A bad state of mind to be in. I am so glad I don’t need to write, right now. But I can buckle down and get it out the door on schedule. And the next four will go out on time as well.
Time will pass and writing will start again. Partly because this is my business, but more because I’m driven to create stories.
Because for the long term, for a long successful writing career, I think the artist side is much more important. That special touch that brings the characters to life. That makes the readers want to move to that place . . . or avoid it at all costs! The perils expressed so well, the reader is scanning the pages, breathing hard and telling that lump in the pit of their stomach that the author could not possibly kill their favorite character!
So the care and feeding of the artist is important. The artist’s soul is easy and fun to satisfy. A trip to the museum, the beach, the mountains, a battle reenactment, researching something you love. (Researching something you don’t love is the fault of the business mind. ;))
The artist’s body, on-the-other-hand is more difficult.
Must have caffeine!
Go easy on the carbs!
No decongestants or antihistamines!
Get plenty of sleep, even if you can’t breath!
Oh, and avoid stress. Heh. As if that was possible.
Health, family, jobs, moving . . . even the election. And internet arguments.
We live in stressful times, culturally, politically, technically. We writers are in mid-adjustment to a massive upheaval of our industry. The internet made online sales possible. Ebooks became a thing . . . and with Amazon, a very big thing. An easy big thing for both readers and writers. Our adjustments to a new marketplace is ongoing and unavoidable. And the market place will keep changing. The tech that helps us will infuriate us as it keep changing.
Just remember that it’s the story that is important. The rest is just new equipment.
But when things get especially rough, when several stresses join forces, it’s time for your big mean professional alter ego to step up and take over. Let the artist creep away for a good cry and long nap. And the professional can decide if the diet can slip for a few days or if antihistamines are a good idea, right now. The professional also has to decide if editing is a good idea, or not, in this state of mind. Perhaps this is a good day to kick back and read something pleasant and light.
For me? Tomorrow will be a good day to start the editing.
But today it’s ice cream and a good book.
Try this if you’re looking for one. College Interns. Studying Dinosaurs. In the field. What could go wrong?