Looking Forward, Looking Back

Ooh, doesn’t that sound like an introspective blog title!? Don’t worry, I haven’t started taking myself too seriously (NEVER!), but over the past few weeks I have been having a good think about how things have been going and how I want to proceed based on that thinking.

Geez, that does sound introspective doesn’t it? I better throw in a funny meme now and then just so you don’t start thinking I’m going all maudlin or anything.

There. Better? Now, on with the thought processes, or as I call it…

The Art Vs. Writing Relationship Smackdown!!

When I first started working on my art as a second job to my writing, I was super frustrated with writing. This was back when I was trapped in The Maze (who knew that title would be so appropriate) and drafting had hit a major roadblock. A road block as in, you would have thought I’d never read a book before and wouldn’t know a plot line if someone threw one at me.

At the same time, I was feeling all super confident with my art skills and said, “Well, at least with painting, I’ll have only wasted a few weeks on something no one will buy, as opposed to a spending a year on a book no one will buy.”

With that cynical view on the creative world, I turned writing into a part time (VERY part time) job and focused on my art. I really enjoyed it and since everyone oohed and ahhed over my art, I thought surely I could sell some of these things. I got a few quick confidence boosts straight out of the gate with a couple art show awards and an acceptance for a solo show.

Yeah, it was kind of like that!

As those who have been with me a while know, I played around with Etsy shops and Fine Art America and even eBay. All of which resulted in a grand total of zero sales (granted, I’ve been horribly inconsistent in my marketing efforts). This year I’ve had five art shows with only one, count ’em, ONE sale…of my least expensive piece.

To put that in perspective, every couple months, the royalties from my books bring in about as much as that one piece of art. So, to say I’m starting to feel my art time is a bit wasted is putting it mildly. Speaking of, time to lighten things up…

Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t switch over to spending my work days mostly doing art with the thought that I would become an instant success and sell every single painting. But this is two years in, my work has been in about ten venues, and I’ve sold one thing.ย One.

On the flip side. Once I got The Maze untangled, the story fell together quite well. I won’t say it’s my best book because as I’ve been giving it the final couple read overs, I can detect some odd passages from Before the Meltdown (BM? ew), but I’m quite proud of the parts that were written in the drafts After the Meltdown (AM?) and I think (hope) the good AM bits outweigh the less-than-stellar BMs. But more on that in a different post….or with your proctologist.

During my downtime between drafts of The Maze, I’ve also been writing some short stories and as I’ve been doing these, I’ve discovered (okay, re-discovered) how much I really really really enjoy writing. I love getting completely lost in a story as I’m creating it, I love having my brain go so fast with ideas that my pen can’t keep up and having to jot down notes in the margin of my paper just to keep track of it all, I love playing with dialogue (my favorite part), I love having just a single sentence of an idea and watching it turn into several pages of story.

In other words, I’m getting back together with Writing. I’m bursting (not literally) with ideas for new books, new series, and short stories. The only trouble is finding time for them all.

Which means it’s time to “have a little talk” with Art.

Don’t worry (since I know you were really sweating over this), I’m not giving up on Art entirely, but I am going to limit our time together so I can work on my relationship with Writing. Right now, I’m considering giving one work day over to Art and the rest to Writing. Lately things have been too crazy busy to set out any real schedule, but after I return from a little vacation in late September, I’ll be back to work and back to a more regular schedule.

Finn (hoping for a new book or two) is ready to schedule my writing time for the rest of the year!

Phew, that was a long-winded break up letter, but it’s always good to know where you stand in a relationship and to understand why things just aren’t working out, right? Right.

Any thoughts on this? Any big decisions in your world lately? As always, I’d love to hear from you! I’ll be back Saturday with another of Finn McSpool’s close-to-home adventures. See you then!!

 

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40 thoughts on “Looking Forward, Looking Back

  1. The Snail of Happiness says:

    I have come to the conclusion that things you do once but sell repeatedly (books, knitting patterns etc) are the way forward when earning a living. Individual pieces of art or craft can be enjoyable to make, but can only ever sell once and so the return is limited. Your decision, therefore, seems very sensible. Don’t ditch the art, but accept that it’s never going to make you a living.

    Liked by 1 person

    • painterwrite says:

      I had thought prints might be good route for the make-it-once-sell-it-lots-of-times idea, but again, zero sales on those no matter how much I dressed them up, reduced their price, etc. In some ways, although my work is good and I enjoy doing it (sometimes), I feel I’m not creative enough to make artwork that stands out and makes people go, “Ooh, I must have that!”

      As you say, I’m not completely kicking poor Art to the curb, but he’s certainly not going to get as much attention as he used to. Not that I’m making a living on my writing either, but I’m hoping by truly dedicating time to writing instead of so many other projects, I can boost my income from where it stands now…and no matter what, it will always be more than I make from my art-haha (especially considering the cost of supplies!).

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  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    It seems a number of people I follow online are experiencing the frustrations of creative life, whether it be writing or some other art form. It’s a tough world with no shortage of artists/writers out there. Trying to get our work noticed is the toughest part of the process, at least in my opinion. But it’s nice you have a couple creative worlds to toggle back and forth between. Maybe that helps you return to one a little fresher and motivated than when you left?

    Liked by 1 person

    • painterwrite says:

      I think I’ve always been a realist (mostly) about the creative life being frustrating. Still, as far as what inspires me, how I work, and where I want to go with it, I feel far more confident talking about my writing than my art (as confident as introvert can be). Also, I definitely feel more inspired to think creatively with writing (except for my collage pieces which require some creative engineering skills at times) since crafting a story line challenges me more than laying color down millimeter by painful millimeter (less eye strain too). And I think that’s what it comes down to: which one at the end of the day leaves me feeling better and wanting to come back for more. Although a movie deal wouldn’t go amiss, either!

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  3. weekesgaehl says:

    The struggle is so real…. I completely feel your pain. I spend so much time stressing out over which one of my passions it would be ‘best’ to focus on–as I don’t think spreading oneself thin over several different things particularly serves artistic disciplines (especially when you have limited time to devote to that work and you’re trying to make it into an actual thing that people will support and buy into). People always say that you should focus on what you want to do ‘in the moment’ or ‘what is making you happiest’, but I don’t think it really works that way. Writing a novel or trying to seriously promote and sell your visual art–these are, separately, full time pursuits! I think it’s great you were able to take some time away from the writing when you hit a wall–and it sounds like your novel has benefited from that division of your attention. I really feel you with the non-selling of your artwork. I’m about to have the same problem with my music (I mean, who even BUYS music anymore!?), and it is so discouraging to put your heart into producing something that then you feel is not valued by anyone else (not saying this is true–just how it can make you FEEL). That said, I encourage you to keep working on the art–if only for personal enjoyment or writing diversion! Anyway, I think it sounds like you have a good plan in place, and I wish you all the luck! And thank you for the cat memes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • painterwrite says:

      If the world could run on cat memes it would be such a wonderful place! I was feeling a bit scatter brained for a few months (more than usual, that is) trying to keep up with art AND writing AND the god awful marketing aspect AND try to have a life beyond all that, but the past month during which I’ve been honing in more on writing and where I want to go with it, my brain has slowly been healing itself (despite the wine I keep marinating it in). I suppose some people are superstars who can actually succeed at multiple pursuits, but I think I’m better off keeping one as my “job” and one as a hobby. And, being a hater of the pirates, I am one of the rare people who will buy music…or at least ask my local library to buy it (hey, those are my tax dollars so technically I’M buying those tunes). Thanks for commiserating with me. Best of luck to both of us!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nyssa The Hobbit says:

    Oh, this sounds so familiar! I’ve sold some copies of my books on Lulu, but not many, and they’ve been up for many years now. ๐Ÿ˜› In those days there weren’t a lot of good ways to market a self-published book except for spamming forums….Now I have to go read about your maze in the Maze because my current novel/obsession keeps getting hung up on plot and period detail. I think I’m untangling it, too, but the ending–while logical and fitting the characters–seems like it’ll be depressing to write. ๐Ÿ˜› I’m tempted to turn it into a happy ending but screw with everybody’s already-planned destinies…..

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    • painterwrite says:

      I’d say stick with the ending that’s fitting to the characters. It’ll be more satisfying to readers and you’ll probably get more satisfaction out of writing it. There’s a blog post coming up soon going into a little more about my maze in The Maze, but basically, I got lazy and didn’t do enough prep-work before writing. Lesson very much learned! As for your book on Lulu, have you tried other venues such as Createspace, Smashwords, KDP, etc? Branching out and “re-launching” the book may help. Thanks for making your way over here from Twitter!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. crawcraftsbeasties says:

    Oh yes, this sounds familiar! I had a similar “conversation” with writing about 5 years ago… I’d been plugging away at first chapters and short stories in my spare time for far too long, and I just couldn’t cobble together anything that didn’t make me cringe. It felt like every word was having to be dragged out of me! Plus, I really wanted to be spending my days off knitting! Although I agree with Weekes up there that what makes you happy in the moment isn’t enough, it does count for a lot in this industry… If it didn’t, I’d still be turning up for my old full-time job 5 days a week, and be perfectly content there! So throw yourself at those new writing projects if that’s where you feel at your best these days… Art will still be there if you want to jump back in. Good luck, and thanks for the cat memes! ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • painterwrite says:

      Oh man, I have about three cringe-worthy manuscripts lurking in a folder, so I understand your pain. It does feel good when you have a mini-revelation regarding which endeavors provide the most satisfaction and where you want to head with them. While I did (do) like doing art, I could never get myself to “feel” like I was an artist and many days felt like absolute drudgery. It’s not to say I’m a great writer (mediocre maybe), but I do feel that I can only improve if I dedicate myself a little more whole-heartedly to it.

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      • crawcraftsbeasties says:

        Go get ’em, Tammie! Now seems like a good time to say that I started reading The Trials of Hercules last night, and I’m really enjoying it! ๐Ÿ˜€ I stayed awake for a whole chapter and a half… Not the backhanded compliment it sounds like, that’s quite a big deal for me these days! I’m looking forward to Sunday (my “read a real book with real pages” day) so I can binge on it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • painterwrite says:

        Oh goodie! Reading!! Now just stop at that chapter and half so you don’t end up disappointed ๐Ÿ˜‹ I know what you mean about being amazed over eating a whole five pages in a row. I usually read before going to bed and some nights I barely make it through a paragraph before passing out. Hope you enjoy the rest of the book!!

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      • painterwrite says:

        Ha! I find if you can just force your eyes to stay open and ignore the pain of them drying out (because blinking can lead to unintentional sleeping), you eventually to a point where you can stay awake through a chapter or two. It’s similar to the runner’s high, I think.

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      • crawcraftsbeasties says:

        Good tip! I’m going to be able to do so many more activities! ๐Ÿ˜‚ Seriously though, I got some proper day time reading time yesterday and got really into the story!
        PS What is this “runner’s high”? Running = pain and suffering, and should never be done EVER.

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      • painterwrite says:

        I have no idea. I run maybe three or four times a week and the only thing I ever feel is 1) ugh, I don’t want to do this, 2) this is hard, 3) oh gross, I’m so sweaty, 4) oh no not another hill 5) does this mean I can have a donut? The only “high” I feel is the minute I step back in the house and can flop into a chair.

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      • painterwrite says:

        I don’t get the people who do races and “fun” runs. I mean, they actually PAY to torment themselves. And to torment themselves in a herd of other (very sweaty) people who are also tormenting themselves. Sick!

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      • painterwrite says:

        Although paying to run when something IS chasing you would be even weirder. “Hold on Mr Bear, let me write you a check before we continue on with this. Oh, you prefer cash. Mind if we stop at the ATM on our run?”

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