The Winter months, I’ve decided, will be focused on research, marketing and sales. Sounds horrendously dull, doesn’t it, but it’s all necessary. I’m not exactly sure how, but I’ll hopefully find ways to make it fun.
My reluctance to embrace the sales and marketing aspect of things got me thinking. I realise now that I’ve always been something of an invisible artist (I’m here using the word ‘artist’ as a blanket term that includes writing, music and pretty much anything creative).
I remember one day in school, when I was about 11 or 12 years old. We all had to write stories and the teacher decided to read my story to the entire class — something she’d never done before or since. I was beyond mortified! I sat with my head buried in my hands, wishing I could just crawl out of the room. I don’t know why I was so embarrassed. I suppose when I write, I’m in a private place where I feel able to invest a lot of myself into the story. It’s not as though it was an overtly personal piece of writing, or some kind of confessional, but it was nevertheless a private world I’d created and I wasn’t ready for it to be shared with other people.
I was a very creative child, yet I was always very careful with whom I shared my work. I usually only entrusted it to adults, such as parents and teachers. For some reason, aside from my closest friends, I didn’t like my peers looking at my work too closely. I suppose I was wary of the possibility they might rip it to shreds — figuratively or literally! Kids can be cruel enough as it is, but for me the greatest cruelty would have been for someone to enter my inner world, the world of my imagination and dreams, and to bulldoze it to pieces. So I was always very careful who I invited into that inner space, and in many ways I still am. It’s a private — and in many ways even a sacred — space.
I’m still something of an invisible artist. Creativity is something that’s quite solitary to me. I like to hide away while I create things and there’s a large part of me doesn’t really care how many people see, much less buy, what I’ve done. I don’t have many skills, or even much interest, when it comes to marketing and sales. All I want to do is move onto the next thing I want to create.
This is all very well, but obviously it doesn’t result in the sales necessary to generate a sustainable income. At the moment my health is such that self-employment is my only feasible option, as I need to be able to set my own hours. So I really have to take my abilities and make them work for me! I’ve now committed myself to creating from my inner world and it’s still a rather personal and delicate process, but it’s time to push past my old comfort zone and courageously invite others to share my dreams and vision.
The only way I can do that is to learn to market and promote my work, including my upcoming novels. This goes against my natural inclinations, as I have a very zen-like approach to life and in the past have operated under the belief that whoever’s meant to see my work, will. I would never want anyone to buy anything I do unless they’re going to derive enjoyment from it. But I now realise it’s my job to ensure that as many people as possible know that my work exists, and have that option.
There is no shortage of talented artists and writers out there, and everyone’s clambering to promote and sell their work. I maintain a naturally humble outlook on my work and my abilities. I know I’m not the most talented artist or writer out there, but I remain convinced my work has merit and it’s own special quality. The overriding principle behind all my work, and the reason I do what I do, is to bring more inspiration into a world with a clear inspiration-deficit. My work is usually about transcendence, deeper understanding of life and opening to the beauty of what is, beyond the obstructions that tend to blind us. This is reflected in everything I do, and I offer my work in the hopes it will benefit the recipient in some way, however subtle.
If that sounds in any way self-aggrandising, it’s truly not meant in that way. I simply do what I do because I want to make the world a better place in some slight way, and to positively impact others. That’s my real motive and it’s genuinely from the heart. I’m certainly not in this for fame and fortune (I’d rather remain an invisible artist, frankly), but I would like to believe that the act of bringing some new piece of art or prose into the world, makes the world a slightly better, brighter place. For me, creativity is something that should be used positively, to offset some of the suffering and pain that fills this tough little world of ours.
So the invisible artist is making moves to make some of his work a little more visible. People will either like it or they won’t, and I’m fine with either. People will either buy it or they won’t, and that’s wonderful (why would I want someone to buy something unless they wanted to?). Perhaps in Springtime I’ll get back to the fun stuff (writing, painting, etc), but for the next few months, I’m going to work on developing some skills relating to marketing and suchlike. As with anything in life, it’s important to balance the yin with the yang. We’ll see how this goes. Stay tuned 🙂