A friend read my blog entitled Is That a Book I See Before Me? and had some powerful comments on my choice of words.
She said (accurately) that I tend to downplay my writing and promote myself as simply an artist who writes about her art. My writing is sound. So why was I being coy about putting as much energy into it as my art?
Why was I burying a link from my website to my blog way back in the “About the Artist” section?
Why did I always say “…and I’m also a writer….” instead of “I’m an artist AND a writer”?
When I went back and looked at the text she was looking at, I saw she was absolutely right.
And I realized I have been tentative about pushing my writing forward, yet I say it’s as important to me as my art.
Where did that come from??
There are several issues involved here.
1) In a marriage, usually one spouse takes on a set of tasks, and the other spouse takes on another set of tasks. We may complain that it’s usually gender-based, but it is a valid strategy for an organization (a household) to make. It’s more efficient to have every person good at a few things, rather than everyone sort of okay at a lot of things. Until you lose one person, that is.
In my case, Jon has been earning a living as a writer since he graduated from college. It felt awkward to think I could write, too, or that my writer would be as “excellent” or as “important” as his is. (That didn’t come from him, it came from me, unconsciously.)
In the last few weeks, Jon has made a point of telling me my writing is good–really good. I was surprised how wonderful it felt to hear him say that. A sign to me of how worried I was to be seen as competing with him in his area of competency.
2) It took me years of making art before I could confidently state, “I’m an artist” and feel like it was the truth, not puffery. It’s just taken me a little longer to get there with my writing.
3) I’m aware that my website is all about my work and the mystique I’ve created in my processes and my story. The blog feels more exposed, more exploratory. I always wonder what my customers would feel about me struggling with this issue or that, or complaining about the “difficult people” in my booth, for example.
This led me to the heart of it.
4) Years ago, someone (anonymous, of course) posted that it was a bad business decision to write so honestly about the ups and downs of being an artist, to admit setbacks and disappointments. It made me look unprofessional. An artist is supposed to look like a duck–swimming along, with all the hard paddling work unseen beneath the water.
I would alienate potential customers and galleries with all my whining and struggling.
There was just enough truth in that snarfy comment to let the knife slip sideways between my ribs and into my heart.
So I felt like I had to keep those two worlds separate, at least until I was famous enough to have a coffee table masterpiece of a book dedicated solely to my artwork written about or by me. Then people would want all the stories.
This latest “challenge” was made with love and respect and good insight. It got my dander up just enough to realize I do care passionately about my writing, too, and would be devastated to give it up. I am going to proceed with all the conviction it needs.
It also came with some really great advice on how to proceed, so it was a double gift.
I am blessed with such a wonderful readership, with people who read regularly and offer support and encouragement along the way. Thank you all!
I thank my husband Jon for his instant support when I told him it was time for me to write another book. Thank you, sweetie!
And a special thanks and a hug to Amy Johnson, for your bravery to ask such hard questions of a new friend. I am grateful. Thank you, Amy!