Tag Archives: writers

The Myth of the Solitary Artist

14 Mar

Though the image of many famous artists is that of the painter or writer slaving away by themselves in their lonely studio or hunched over their antique typewriter high up in a tower somewhere, I have learned the exact opposite about the art of creating art.

Smithsonian castle sepia

Smithsonian ‘castle’

Art is never created in a vacuum. At the very least, artists are inspired and informed by the world around them. For some it is cities, for others: mountains. Or flowers or waterfalls or people. They observe color, light, movement, sound and they translate it onto their canvas, whatever canvas that is. For me, it’s a page and my paint is made of words.

My fellow writers are a treasure trove of stories not only because of their vast imaginations but because they feed their imaginations. Many love to travel, some to the opposite side of the globe, learning about different cultures and traditions; others to the closest subway station, eavesdropping on the conversations around them. The world is their collaborator though it doesn’t always know it.

In my experience writing is a team sport. Beyond gleaning from their interaction with the world, writers actively partner with many, many people most of whom give of their time freely in order to help that writer’s vision come to life. Here’s a short list:

  • Critique partners who give honest and necessary feedback in the earliest stages (love ya OWLS!)
  • Fellow writers in the community and at conferences who give encouragement and support
  • Bloggers who provide information, resources, and sometimes exposure and connections
  • More experienced writers who serve as mentors (thank you Lisa Lewis Tyre!)
  • Beta readers who give even more feedback once the story is complete
  • Industry professionals who attend conferences and contests giving information and sometimes feedback
  • Agents who generously provide feedback even when they’ve decided your work is not a fit for them
  • Agents who say “YES” and agree to represent you who help you get your manuscript into shape to sell and then work their tails off to sell your book on only promise of payment IF they sell it
  • Editors who read your work and provide feedback even if they will not be acquiring it
  • The editor who does agree to acquire it (squee!!) who works with you to polish it into the final product

Okay, so the list isn’t that short. And it doesn’t even include the whole team at the publishing house who helps ensure your book actually hits shelves (physical or electronic) with cover art and a minimum of typos. Which proves my point. Writing is a team sport. Don’t go it alone.

Without my writing “team”, I would not have completed two novel-length manuscripts and I wouldn’t have been able to see my stories with fresh eyes and take them to new levels. Of course, I haven’t yet added an agent or editor to my team. But I hope to soon. I’ve got some fabulous agents reading my work. Keep your fingers crossed that one of them is the right match for me.

 

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Who is on the other side of that mirror?

29 Oct

Okay, so I just got home from my dear fellow Chick Eva’s Halloween party and decided to write this blog while I still had a bit of the wine in my blood. Because I love my fellow Chicks, and here’s why.

The more I immerse myself in the world of writing, the more I realize the importance of having supportive, non-judgmental friends around you. I’ve known artists to give up on their dream because of some well-meaning “friend” who tells them that they’re better off focusing on their day job. Unsupportive people can have a lot of power if you let them. They don’t reflect confidence in your dreams, your endeavors. Reasons vary: they don’t “get it,” or maybe they themselves are blocked artists. They can actually make you think you’re not good enough, not talented enough or that it’s just not worth it to realize your aspirations.

While I recognize there is a time and a place for all people in our lives, I do believe that people who aren’t believing mirrors should be kept on the other side of your artistic “wall.” Be nice. Heck, even be friends. But don’t let them into your artistic circle. You need people who believe in you, who can give you positive as well as constructive feedback in such a way that’s not attacking.

Peggy, Eva, Tracey and myself have found each other to be strong believing mirrors, and it is because of this unique group that I have had the desire and resolve to write two full YA novels. They have supported me every step of the way. I have also found strong supporters in my OWL critique group. I’m what you’d call a “lucky girl” (that’s the technical term).

Everyone should have at least one person to whom they can go and always find encouragement. If you don’t, do yourself a huge favor and find one. The test: how do you feel when you walk away from that person(s) – energized and motivated? Or drained and disheartened?

You be the judge…

Oh, and the ChocoVine wine is amazing, if you haven’t tried it! Mmmmm….

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