Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Are So Alike

Bear with me….

I was talking with my son the other night. He’s an extreme sports photographer out of Utah. As we talked, I realized that he goes through the same things I do – with his craft. He takes a photo (which is a process all of its own and could take days/weeks/months to set up), then he puts it in with all his other photos and tries to figure out which one is the best (editing). After that, he writes cover letters and such and sends them off with his photos to different magazines, advertisers, and sports equipment folk. He sits by his cell phone and waits for a tweet or an email or a letter saying they (whomever) really like the photos and will pay such and such for them. Then, he waits and waits – for there is no guarantee as to when the photos will be published. Or even if they’ll be published. He told me it is not uncommon to ‘find’ one of his photos in a magazine and he has no contract for it. The magazine thought they’d contracted with him and paid him when they hadn’t. So on top of all the things he has to go through for his craft, he has to be constantly vigilant in making sure he doesn’t get overlooked by those he sends his stuff to. Incredible, isn’t it?

I know artists (oils/acrylics/watercolors/ceramics/jewelry) who create wondrous works that take (I don’t even want to think how long these paintings, etc., take). Then they have to sell them, too. Same thing with the contracts and such. Making sure their works are rewarded, monetarily and proprietorially.

I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. We are all the same, so to speak. Working our craft, loving it, dwelling and delving in it. Then we must work to sell it. Once that's done, it's on to the next work.

I watched a movie tonight about a songwriter. Now, I’ve written songs and have had a couple published (worldwide). But I never even gave a thought to being successful with it. Music changes so very rapidly. There are so many in the field fighting for a stake. (Yet, give me my guitar and I can have such fun.) The hero gave his songs to a publisher who immediately told him to write love songs, that’s all the market would allow, and keep it to 32 bars. He promptly left the place and threw out all his songs! I almost choked – such a horrid thing to do. But the man took the gagging advise, wrote songs of love and 32 bars and became a well-loved composer.

I think of this as I prepare to present my MS at the next SCBWI conference in September. I remember the first time I presented. The critique was not that harsh, really it wasn’t. But it was my first and I took it way too seriously and too much to heart. I left the conference, even though it had a few hours AND dinner left, and went home and sobbed.

I won’t do that again. I’m prepared (at least I tell myself I’m prepared). I’ll accept what the person says and find some friends and chew it over with them. Then I’ll take the critique or leave it. I definitely will NOT take it personally (LOL) – Four Agreements!

The reason I’m bringing all this up – is that we are all alike, to a degree. That everyone has a gift of some kind. We all go through the same process and the same distress. We have the same joy, the same Muse, the same life.

During this week-end of remembrance, I think I will remember to be kinder and gentler. And make it last longer than ten years.

Life is too short.

1 comment:

  1. Best thing I did for my craft was to agree to write with Mary on SACRAMENT. It was her story, so I had to bow to her editing. I also learned to fight for what I'd written. We would go back and forth, sometimes as much as 10x, before agreeing. It was ALWAYS better.

    I also confess that when I submitted my first work that was all my own, I was crushed when it was rejected. It took me two years to submit it to a contest, and a month to read the comments. Again, I was crushed by the criticism, though not as badly as the first time.

    Two more years, some re-writing, and I paid to have a critique done of the first three chapters. The author gave the same advice as the judges. I sucked it up, and put the old story away. I used it as a base for a new book. I re-wrote more than half of it. Submitted a query letter and synopsis, and received a request for a full manuscript. Now, I'm waiting to hear back.

    I know writers who submitted multiple times, and wrote multiple books before receiving a contracts. If I've learned anything, every person's path is truly their own.