Friday, November 17, 2017

Trusting Your Art

Artists of any stripe can be a insecure bunch, probably because they are often belittled.

In American culture, pursuing art is considered inconsequential. A waste of time. Criticism of this pursuit is often vocalized by artists' friends and families as helpful advice.

I mean, how often have all of us heard the following:

"Why are you wasting your time on that crap?"
"When are you going to get a real job?"
"No one can make a living writing/singing/painting/etc."

And even if we get past that bullshit, there's the people related to the type of art we wish pursue, i.e. the current professionals, the critics, the brokers, who again in the name of helping can hold us back. You know the type of well-meaning advice:

"Instead of writing Y, you should write X."
"This is crap. You need to change everything."
"If you have so-and-so doctor/edit/review your work, you'll make lots of money."

One  of the hardest parts for any artist on this crazy path is learning to trust themselves. There's going to be a lot of people who have opinions of your work.

And that's okay.

But it shouldn't matter to you either.

Why? Because if you present your work to the public, you can't stop them from having an opinion about that work. Nor can you control the life experience those other people bring along as baggage as they read/look at/listen to your work. And trust me, there's a lot of baggage those consumers drag along to the party.

For example, an editor for a publishing company (and no, I'm not naming names) stated that zombies are over.

And I laughed. Why? Because that same editor has been saying vampires are over for the last twenty years, and I still haven't seen bloodsuckers totally go away.

It doesn't matter what someone else says. If you want to write about vampires, or draw superhero comics, or create weird metal statues, then DO IT!

Trust yourself to fulfill your vision of your project. Only you can create things a certain way. A way like no other person can. And the world will be a poorer place without your vision.


  1. Yep, agree. A lot of it is just crap, of course. People who need to feel like gurus. A lot of it is people looking around at their personal circle of friends and peers and colleagues and assuming the beliefs or preferences or trends within that group apply to the whole world. And I think a lot of it is people embedded in tradpub (insert the relevant group or establishment for the relevant art) used to thinking that if you can't sell ten thousand copies of something the first week after release, it's a failure.

    Enter indie publishing, where you can sell ten copies a week for five or ten or twenty years, and add that to the five or ten or twenty copies you're selling of your other ten or twenty or fifty or hundred books, and make a nice living. Some of the tradpub folks don't seem to get what the differences of scale actually mean for an independent writer/publisher.

    Genre westerns are dead in tradpub, but there are indie writers selling them. Vampires might not be selling as well as they were in the 90s, but there are enough fans of vampire stories -- whether traditional or romantic or whatever -- to buy indie pubbed vampire books. Whatever a writer is into, there's likely some niche audience out there that's been wishing the big New York publishers would give them some of that. And maybe more than a niche audience. It might take a while for readers to notice your stuff, but it's always worth putting it out there.


    1. Part of what bothers me is indie pubbers are creating some of their own myths that are just as damaging as any trad myth. It's hard enough for me shoveling through the BS. I feel bad for newbies caught in the maelstrom.

      And vampires have never really gone away. At least not in the last fifty years. LOL I can always find a fix.

    2. Re: vampires really never going away, totally. And they've been around -- even the romantic ones -- a lot longer than most young whippersnappers think. [wry smile] I started with Saint Germain, myself. :)