Remember when you began your adventure of being an artist? The dreams of accolades and admiration for doing something most everyone couldn't even fathom. Then, reality settled in. The work is tireless, endless, and for most of us, without monetary reward.
All You artists out there, if you think your closest family and friends are going to be as enthused about your works of art as you are, you have another thing coming. In case you haven't yet received the memo, nobody, and I do mean nobody, is going to be as invested in your work as you. That's the root of the saying, "An artist's life is a lonely life."
If you can find a person or two; a spouse, a child, a close friend, or an ardent fan, who is half as excited about your art as you, count your lucky stars. That's as good as it will ever get for you, until you realize that mythical moment of success. Otherwise, you face a lonely road, where you'll have to be your own booster.
At first, everybody and his brother is happy and excited for you. They all profess a desire to be with you every step of the way, and they are for the first month or so. Somewhere along the way, reality sets in. The road you must take is a long and winding one, replete with potholes and ruts, to get to the top of the heap, where success is rumored to be waiting for you.
Your family and friends will all mean well, but most people have no idea what it takes to create a work of art, not to mention the marketing of it. After a month or two of asking how many copies have been sold and receiving a truthful answer of one or two, or maybe none, interest will wane. Don't get mad. Don't be sad. Expect even your closest family and friends will not be with you every step of the way. Your work is your baby, not theirs. They may not even like or appreciate what you call art, and they don't have to, either.
Only you, as the artist, need to keep your vision alive. Your love for your work must be what motivates you to keep driving up the hardest road you'll ever travel. Nobody else can do that for you.
When I began writing four years ago, no less than forty of my family and friends were enthusiastic and asked to read my stories before they were edited and polished. I mistook this enthusiasm to mean these folks wanted to take the adventure with me, see the evolution of my writing, and where it would lead. Boy, did I blow the cues out of proportion!
Once I tirelessly printed out and mailed copies of my works in progress to everyone who expressed interest in them, after giving each person a few weeks to read the manuscripts, I did what seemed natural and asked for feedback. The silence was so deafening, you could've heard crickets. It appeared that most of the recipients hadn't read more than a chapter or two, and these folks asked me to send them my work. They solicited me, not the other way around. An ego buster, for certain, but I got over it.
My first inclination was most people I knew wouldn't be interested in what I had to write about. As it turned out, my initial hunch was spot on. I didn't take offense, but learned most people will tell you what they think you want to hear. It was a lesson well-earned, and I took it to heart. Ever since, with the exception of a few true supporters, I tell most family and friends they can buy my work on Amazon when it's finished and uploaded. That way, nobody's feeling are hurt, mine included.
I am lucky enough to have a strong, support system; my wife, daughter, and a couple of close friends. Unfortunately, most artists don't have anyone to cheer them on through the darkest of days, the depths of despair, and most of all, the waiting for things to pan out. The more I speak with other authors and artists about this, the more I appreciate what I do possess. If I ever do make it to the top of the heap, I will be eternally grateful for all of the support I have received along the way.
To be sure, the art business is a tough one. Growing a website and a presence on social media are tedious tasks that take time away from doing what the artist craves most, creating more works of art. Once the artist creates one story or painting, he or she needs to create another and another. The artist is driven to create and marketing gets in the way of that drive. Sometimes it feels like you'll go mad if you don't let what's in you out to play. Creative expression is the artist's release valve for their pent up energy and ideas.
Art is what makes life worth living. Our creations add value to our own lives, as well as to the lives of everyone, of whom our works touch. An artist's life may be a lonely one, but it's also a vibrant one. A world devoid of art wouldn't be a place in which I'd wish to exist. That notion is what keeps me tilting at the proverbial windmills, and I suppose I'll do just that until my last, dying breath.
Now, you know the rest of the story behind the lonely road the artist must tread. Take heart in the success of other artists and keep your dreams alive of joining their ranks one day. The one surefire thing I do know is abandoned dreams can never be realized. Nobody ever said an artist's life would be an easy one. Until we meet again, appreciate your blessings and always remember to rage against the dying of The Light, your creative expressions the world so desperately needs!
My wedding anniversary is just around the corner. As hard as it is to believe number thirty-two is charging right at me, it's even harder to swallow the fact I am now a grandfather. It seems like only yesterday I was waiting in my parents' yard to say, "I do."
Unbeknownst to me, my wife-to-be desperately searched for the token she had bought to give me on that day of days. Thus, she was late for her own wedding, not something any bride dreams of doing. As I waited with my best men, my mind raced, and my senses overflowed with the splendor of flowers in full bloom that formed the perimeter of the yard. My friends joked they thought I would be the one who would have to be brought to the altar at the end of the barrel of a shotgun. Not exactly helpful in easing my nervousness about the whole affair.
Music has always played an important part of my life. A song for every important milestone has been imparted into my memory. As minutes late turned into half hours, what started out being, "Going To A Go-Go," began to transform into, "You Can't Always Get What You Want!"
When my fiancee entered through the garden gate, and the violin and cello began playing, all doubts faded into oblivion. My mental soundtrack quickly reverted back to, "Going To A Go-Go!" I still remember how beautiful my wife looked in her wedding gown. She glowed with a radiance to beat the band, and all was right with the world.
The intervening years have done nothing to change my view of her. My wife still lights up every space, into which she enters. Don't tell her this, because she may take advantage, but waiting for her has never been a chore. To this day, no matter how long my wife makes me wait, I look forward to her presence, and my heart continues to skip a beat when she finally does make her appearance.
A new member of the family has arrived, and what a splendid anniversary gift this baby girl is to us. Deep down, I knew this day was imminent. Children grow up, get married, and nature takes its course. I just didn't think I would be a grandfather at such an early age. Grandparents always seemed to be so old and full of wisdom. I know I'm not wise enough, and it doesn't seem I'm old enough to be bestowed with the honor of being called, grandfather.
I don't know if my wife entirely agrees with this notion or not, but it seems like a reasonable compromise with The Cosmos to call ourselves, Granny and Grumpy. The monikers signify a certain amount of maturity without the weight of time associated with the terms, grandmother and grandfather. I know, seems like much ado about nothing, but part of getting used to change is wrapping one's head around the terminology.
Keeping faith with The Cosmos is the better part of valor. My granddaughter needs to start her life on a proper footing. Getting the nomenclature set is that proper foothold on life. Besides, with two sets of grandparents and a set of great-grandparents, something's gotta give. There's only so many different names to go around. The wee-one will have to call everybody, something or other. My wife and I will be called, Granny and Grumpy, and that's all there is to it!
Now that you know the rest of the story about Granny and Grumpy, until we meet again, be sure to keep faith with The Cosmos in whatever way you see fit. There is no right or wrong way to exist, as long as you do it from dusk to dawn. To my daughter's chagrin, my grand-baby already understands daylight hours are for sleeping, and the night-time is the right time!
People hustle to and fro. On highways. Within malls. Upon sidewalks. None of them stop to say, hello. Their destinations are too important, but what can possibly be more important than a hello?
Lines, the endpoints for all the hustle and bustle. At traffic lights. In stores. At crosswalks. Still no small talk, only frowns. What in Sam Hill is driving all these people, and why can't they take the time to say, hello?
We've all heard of the phenomenon, road rage. More than likely, we've all experienced it in one form or another. That idiot driver, who zips in and out of traffic, or that fool, who can't wait for you to pass by, so he cuts you off. Everybody seems to have needed to be some place, yesterday. Hurry, hurry, hurry, and damn the consequences!
Just the other day, some damn fool cut in front of the car I was riding in, nearly causing a collision. Do you know what was the ultimate result of that incident? The damn fool ended up, sitting at the next traffic light, directly in front of us. His frantic driving got him no further than our careful navigation through the congestion of the day. All he did was, hurry up and wait!
They say, "Rubbing's racing." I don't think Nascar drivers meant for that phrase of theirs to apply to our roadways. Zoom, zoom. Idle, idle. Zoom, zoom. A never ending cycle, produced from the frustration of needing to be somewhere at a particular time and not having enough hours in a day to get there in a timely manner.
The more advanced our society gets, the less time we seem to have to get all of the necessary tasks accomplished. Each new gadget, created to make our lives easier, take a little more of our precious time away from those things we used to get done. How many hours do we expend every day, minding all of the applications on our cell phones? How many minutes do we waste, every time we reboot the computer in every device we own, and how many times a day, do we have to perform that function?
Historians have a theory, regarding the nexus between civilization and culture. They theorize, culture, as we have come to know it, developed when surplus became a fact of life. Civilizations, living at the subsistence level, had no time or use for art of any kind. Once a civilization developed a surplus of food, then there was a surplus of time. This is the point, in which free time came into play, and art became a way to use this free time in a positive way.
In many ways, it appears our civilization is going backwards, rather than progressing forward. Our free time is getting used up by the things that are supposed to create more free time. I don't have an answer for what to do about this modern conundrum. It is something we all need to think about and find some semblance of a balance, especially for us artists.
Art is a labor of love, created from the surplus of time. It can't be hurried. It can't be forced. It comes together as it should on its own terms. The artist is merely the medium for artistic expression. The artist is the first person to greet the new work of art, as it enters our reality. As ambassadors of creativity, artists need to use their time wisely and be gratuitous with their greetings and smiles. Karma can be a bitch, and she is always waiting for an excuse to punish. Don't let a frown and a missed, hello, be that excuse.
Now, you know the rest of the story about time, surplus, and the gratuitous hello. Until next time, say hello to my little friend and laugh at the night, as it dances around you, taunting you to heights, unknown only yesterday!