I’ve been sitting here for an hour trying to decide what to write. My head feels like a bowl of cooked spaghetti and my thoughts are inextricably tangled. I haven’t been writing much fiction, and I’m feeling more and more the imposter here. I don’t know what to do about that. Write more? Possibly. I want to write, and there are stories that sometimes surface, only to dive elusively back into the noodles when I reach for them.
I’m tired, and I’m frustrated. The house work has stalled out, and while I’d like to do the next things myself, they are literally too large and I need help carrying them. Which I do not have. Plus, the truck I’d use to do some things has been filled with rubbish and can’t be emptied until Monday, leaving me with a lost weekend and a feeling of impotent anger. I do these things to myself. Bite off more than I can chew and then wind up choking on it. So right now I’m sitting here trying to figure out what to cut out, so I can stop with the whirling feelings of inadequacy. While the neighbor’s dog cries lamentations on the other side of the kitchen window, a perfect soundtrack of despair.
Some of this is external. I can control it to some extent – the poor dog, I can try to ignore. The furniture? Well, probably time to figure out how to replace it with items I can move, and sell or discard the ones I can’t shift alone if I can’t get help. The truck? I can use my car instead and anything too big for the car can go into the category above. The writing…
That’s all internal. I’m not sure I can sort that out. I’ve been encouraged to stop trying to be a professional writer, to only do it as a hobby when I’m in the mood to. That feels like failure… it is failure. But it might be the only way to maintain my momentum in the parts of life that really matter, where I’m useful to my family. Not the parts that only massage my ego. Like the too-heavy home furnishings, the writing may be more than I can bear. Scratch that. Not the letting the stories out on paper. Can manage that, it’s like making trips ferrying boxes of books from storage with my car. What I can’t do is the marketing and the promotion and all the sundry other things that ride along with the writing. So there’s not much point, is there?
It’s like my art. Periodically I get a very enthusiastic comment, and I appreciate the sentiment behind it, that I really should be selling more art/in a gallery/whatever. I always feel like there’s a knife twisting in a wound when I see those, even as I thank them cheerfully. Sure, they like my work. I like that. I don’t like the knowledge that most art as the random man on the street sees it, isn’t actually worth much. The high prices they read about only exist when there’s money laundering involved. Art like mine? Can be and usually is yoinked by right click and save image because ‘Oh, I’m not using it for anything commercial…’ and commissions are rare. I do get them. I appreciate those people, who pay. It’s the ultimate compliment, really. Buy a print, a file, a book. That’s the way to feed your soul-starving artist.
But enough whining from me. I think I’ll take my cup of coffee and wander around the yard as the dawn pinkens the horizon. And I’ll talk to the damn dog, see if I can’t cheer the poor pup up. He’s got both of us singing the blues. I’d howl with him, but the other neighbors don’t need to hear that!
(header image: Art Deco Motif by Cedar Sanderson)
You eat the elephant one bite at a time. (Says someone else who feels totally inadequate).
The glamorous life of a writer
Try making time to meditate and find a style of meditation that works for you. You might be surprised by the solutions that will occur to you.
The sad reality of any artist, print, paint, performer. Some make it big like Vincent Van Gogh. Oh wait he died broke. Some make a nice living like Daniel Steele. Some barely make it by hustling as much as possible like my piano teacher who is also an accompniest (however the hell you spell that), did the rock band thing, does a couple church gigs, works for the school district…and she’s GOOD. You need talent, you need connections, you need hard work but you also need luck. Lots of luck. Luck favors the prepared but it matters. Right now, ma’am I think you may be wanting it all simultaneously? And may need to pick one? One profession and one hobby? And yes you are trying to do too many things again.
When did you start sharing my life?
Seriously, I understand. The last year or so has felt that way for me, especially the last few months. I wish I had an answer for you that was guaranteed to work. I don’t. All I can say is what has worked–kind of–for me. I’ve had to prioritize. Mom with her declining health has to come first. Then there are the issues with the house (some necessary like the garage ceiling collapsing, some not but that make Mom happy right now). Then there are the every day complications of real life–work, errands that have to be run, etc. Writing comes, usually five days a week. Sometimes I get enough hours in that day to get good word count ad other days I’m lucky if I can write a paragraph or two. What’s fallen by the wayside are things like promotion, etc.
You have even more on your plate. You’re still getting put together after the move–yet another move in a relatively short period of time–work, family , art, writing, the list goes on.
Don’t get hung up on “am I professional artist/writer?”. If you are making money from it, you are a professional. The vast majority of us never get to quit our day jobs. Most of those wind up juggling careers, families, extended families, etc. But they write or create art.
The real answer is do what makes you happy but don’t tie yourself up in so many knots trying to do everything all at the same time that you get little to nothing else done. In other words, take some time for Cedar and quit being so hard on yourself.
Of course you’re a real writer; I have some of your books. So flick that nonsense in the nose. And you’ve released a bunch of stuff lately, too.
I know it’s not as effective to not do the marketing stuff– but it’s the best choice for things to let slide when you’re doing multiple jobs already.
“What I can’t do is the marketing and the promotion and all the sundry other things that ride along with the writing. So there’s not much point, is there?”
You mean, other than building up a huge log jam of completed stories that you can, at some time in the future, when you have the time for marketing, release every three weeks (what worked for me) or so for a year?
Relax and write when you can, and build up that inventory. Think of it like a savings account.
THAT is brilliance right there.
I understand. The last year was very difficult for us and for me. Thankfully and by the grace of God, many of those crises have resolved.
All I did was keep up with the minimums as life was more important that work.
As I feel better, my characters are beginning to talk to me again.
Your stories will come back to you. Give them time and work on something else, including sleeping enough, gardening, and exercise. Those help.
I’ve been doing the “brain running around with hands waving in air” bit for the list little while. With Day Job on hiatus, I lack that massive distraction from “things I want to worry about and can’t do a darn thing about.” So I write.
You are a professional. You are very good at what you do. You just happen to have three vocations that are competing for attention, and one needs to step aside for the moment. Like me and writing this spring, and last spring, and the spring of 2019, and . . .
Was noodling about your art while I was driving– I see your Deviant Art page has a store on it, could you put up themed collections of backgrounds? So that they can be downloaded quickly.
That would avoid the right-click-save issue.
What everyone said above, (including, being in the same boat!).
Toss in a Redbubble or Society6 online store that you just toss stuff into and let it do it’s thing for your art. (Stickers get you the most notice, even if they aren’t the highest earners, consider them loss leaders.) (Little Man might even be able to help populate the stores for you).
And one of the things you are doing right now and you may not realize it, is part of the grieving process. You may not realize it, because things are going good. But, that is often when the brain/emotions have time to process it. Yes, you have a new job, but you lost your old job that you were loving. Yes, you have a new house, but you had a house you were happy with. Yes, there are good things going on, but old things that have to process out. Let yourself finish the process with intention, knowing that is what is going on, and you may be able to process it faster, or at least be kinder to yourself while it happens.
You are not alone. Hang in there.
A) You are an author and an artist. B) There’s nothing wrong with realizing that the ROI just isn’t there in an endeavor.
Art takes a lot of time to gain the skills and is completely under-appreciated. I stopped having the stab in the gut about galleries when I began to actually known people with pieces in galleries. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be if you aren’t at the high end connected market. For those who aren’t at the top, gallery showings are massive amounts of work, and little ROI except for bragging rights and getting invited to parties.
Oh, sure the pieces are priced high, but they don’t sell like hot cakes. They might sell a $500 to a couple $1000 piece every couple months, some I knew sold a couple grand piece once a year. This was after putting months into the creation and thousands of dollars of supplies into the piece. And to be in a gallery, you have to have MULTIPLE pieces and maybe 1 or 2 out of the 10 will sell. Those pieces have to be swapped out for new stuff, and if they sit around too much, gallery kicks you to the curb.
Most seem to do the art as a passion project and either have a day job, or have a spouse who pays the bills. Some of them are very excellent artists, but even in that field, there’s a cream level that just seems out of reach to normal mortals.
So getting art in a gallery sounds just like getting a book in a bookstore
Exactly. Especially when you start realizing who the authors making the seven figure advances are related to.
I know a guy (well, mostly I know OF him, but I’ve met him a couple of times). He is a technical genius, and I don’t say that lightly. His technical colleagues (many of them also geniuses, from my point of view) agreed that he was better than any of them in their specific field. His tragic flaw is that he didn’t WANT to be a technical genius, beavering away in a lonely lab. He WANTED to be a comedian, a performer, up on stage, constantly receiving applause and adulation from the crowd. This is something that, by personality, temperament, and (lack of) talent, he was spectacularly unsuited to be, but it was his dream. And he has abandoned his technical field for more than a decade, chasing his dream without success. He may spend the rest of his life frustrated and bitter, where many others would have been happy with only a tenth of his technical talent.
I keep that guy in mind every time I grumble at my lack of ability to write characters that people care about and plots they want to read. And then I turn to my lengthening list of successful sales of nonfiction to various outlets, and I think, “Maybe I should just stick to what I’m good at, and not try to be THAT GUY.”
You’ve said in the past that you enjoy doing art. To my untutored eye, you’re good at it. I really like some of the covers you’ve done. If I ever publish a book (probably nonfiction, on my current path), I’ll ask you to do the cover. If writing frustrates you, and art relaxes you, consider the possibility that you’re meant to be an artist …
This is great. For example and for myself I wonder if I’m meant for non fiction.
Heavens knows the world needs a lot more good non-fiction. I get prodded every so often to go back to academic writing “because you are so good, and it is so readable!” Granted, it pays zippity doo dah, but there is a need.
Once you get ‘comfortable’ with the house, things will get better. And the noodles and fish dishes were EXCELLENT, so that research paid off! 🙂