I Art

Had a few conversations recently that got me to thinking about impostor syndrome and how many folks that want to commit art end up holding back.

I know a lot of creatives that can commit all manner of art. Could make money at it. Dunno about a living, because that involves a lot of work, but I started out making $258 my first year selling books.

From there, I decided that I wanted to art for money. As I spoke with various artists, I came to realize how many of them don’t believe that they should be allowed to be successful as artists.

Pardon me, but WTF?

Why are you limiting yourself? Why not at least try?

My first wife was an artist who worked in colored pencil to create lifelike portraits. I turn my head to the right as I type these words and I have a piece she did in 1991 of John Muir, the naturalist.

She’d tried doing commercial art in the 90s and hated it. Mostly, she had to deal with folks wanting her to do create specific pictures as part of advertising. Hated that. Hated people telling her to change things, because she drew it as she saw it.

Instead, she just took commissions from folks to turn one of their photographs into a poster-sized drawing. Enjoyed that. I have a number of her pieces, and the step-daughters have all the remaining originals and prints at this point.

But that was the old days. Today, she might be able to sell her art on-line. Maybe even make money.

For writers, there used to be a precisely specific pattern one was supposed to follow. First, you wrote short stories and submitted them to the lower-end magazines in your genre. Eventually, your rejections would get more personal, with suggestions. Finally, they would buy things. You worked your way up the food chain slowly.

From there, you sold more and more, making a name for yourself. Maybe winning awards.

Then you wrote a novel and looked for an agent to represent you with the traditional publishing houses. (Back when there might have been hundreds, instead of the remaining handful.)

Eventually, you’d get some sort of deal. Advance. Royalties, maybe. Fame.

Today, I know lots of folks that still think that is the only way to do it. They’re wrong, but they don’t generally want to hear that.

That world is gone.

I write. Publish. Write the next thing. I have been struck by lightning twice, but I have also worked my ass off at committing art, to the point that I have fans willing to buy books as soon as I put something up for preorder, sight unseen. To support me on Patreon. To tell their friends about me.

It can be done. You can do it.

It bothers me that I keep running into people who have the potential. And the desire. Except that when asked, they explain to me that they’re not good enough to art.

Seriously? How the hell would you know? Have you tried? Or are you listening to one of your parents, thirty or fifty years later, tell you that you aren’t good enough? (I know a few horror stories about New York Times Bestselling authors who still got that from a parent. Ugh.)

Why do you not commit art? What holds you back from putting it out there and making money from it? I’m not promising lots of money, but we all started with nothing. You will, too. And maybe get struck by lightning.

I had dreams, and a couple of friends or coworkers who might toss $5 in on a lark just because. Hell, I sold early collections off my desk at work more than once.

If you can art, why don’t you? It used to be that costs to get your art out there might be utterly prohibitive, which was why you needed a publisher. Or a gallery. Or a record label.

I’m a few weeks from releasing my first single, recorded as Ward and Rogers, because Paul and I are having fun creating music. My friend Toby just released another single this week. He tours and gigs relentlessly. He wants it. (Inspires me, too, when I hear those voices telling me to stay in bed today.)

Why don’t you? What’s holding you back from writing, drawing, (and/)or recording?

I think that most of you would be happier if you took that risk and put yourself out there. There will always be trolls, but you ignore the assholes and you’ll find fans. I get emails from readers thanking me for some of the things I write. Awesome reviews. (And a few assholes, but we ignore him, except to laugh that he will eventually buy every book I release AT FULL PRICE in order to give me a one star review complaining that my female characters should have been naked bimbos. Seriously.)

Ignore the trolls.

What art do you have in your soul? This is the time when the world needs more art. More entertainment. People are getting to the level monsters at the ends of the various streaming services, and looking for things to make them smile.

Why isn’t that you?

None of my books make me rich. None of them. All of them combined into a thing called a Catalog makes me a nice, middle class living where I don’t ever have to put on pants in the morning or commute to somebody else’s office.

I want to art. I want you to art.

What will it take for you to get past that voice whispering in your ear, so that you decide to art?

And how do we get you there?