Mon. Oct. 8, 2018: Persistence & Definitions of Success — #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, October 8, 2018
New Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

There are a slew of misconceptions about working in the arts as a profession rather than a hobby. Among them that it’s easy, that we’re automatically rich, that we don’t “deserve” to be paid, that we’re all promiscuous drug addicts, and that it’s not “real work.”

All of them are false.

One of the most frequent questions I get from people who are doing their art on the side is the question of what did I do, working my up from off-off-off Broadway to Broadway, when the day job/temp job interfered with the show?

Very easy solution: I quit the day job.

Any “day job” I took served a temporary purpose to pay the bills until I landed my next paid theatre gig. I was upfront when I was hired – theatre comes first. Always. You get my full attention while I’m here, but when I land my next show, I’m gone.

Because unless my art was my priority, I would NEVER have been in a position to earn a living at it. And before those who don’t have the guts to make the leap start screaming that they have responsibilities and “can’t” – I have ALWAYS been the primary breadwinner in my family, since I came of age. I have a whole host of responsibilities. So don’t tell me that yours are better/harder/more important than mine.

But am I/was I successful?

When I was a teenager, I had dreams of fame and fortune. Once I started earning my living in theatre and saw what fame did to people, how it interfered with their lives and their art (and no, being a performer doesn’t mean you’re “asking for it”. Reality show celebutards are a different story – they seek the attention). But serious performers? Recognition is necessary, to keep landing quality work. But few of them “enjoy” fame. Too many are destroyed by it.

So I made a conscious decision, quite far back, that I did not want fame.

Which meant adjusting several other things.

Which meant redefining what I considered success.

If I was not willing to make the fame compromise, it meant forgoing certain elements by which OTHER PEOPLE define “success.”

Sometimes, that affected how much I was offered for a gig, or other circumstances. Or even IF I was offered a gig. I learned to live with that. It meant I didn’t land certain gigs I wanted; however, looking back, it worked out.

I decided to define success for myself as earning my living doing work I love.

That simple.

Knowing that definition means I can set boundaries when others try to get away with not paying me for my skills because “we don’t pay for that” or “it’s not real work.” Then, hon, I’m not working for you. It’s NOT a loss for me. A loss, especially in terms of self-respect, is accepting or seeking work and approval from those who don’t value my skills and my talent.

Those individuals are not worth my time.

The carrots they dangle to manipulate me into doing what’s good for them (but not for me) with the promise of better down the road? That “better” will never materialize.

MY success means walking away from them, and connecting with people who respect my talent and skills, or creating situations that draw those to me.

It means trusting my gut and a clear vision of what I want and who I am – and knowing that will evolve over time. It doesn’t mean being inflexible. But it means knowing when a situation isn’t going to offer me anything except grief. And being willing to walk away.

Not just walk away, but move on to a better situation.

That kind of persistence builds a positive career.

It’s not easy. People don’t like it when they can’t manipulate you, or if you don’t acquiesce to their agendas.

Too bad for them.

I persist in making decisions that build on what I’ve done, stretch me in interesting ways, and pay me a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.

Earning my living doing work I love – persistence allows me to do that.

 

Published in: on October 8, 2018 at 4:14 am  Comments Off on Mon. Oct. 8, 2018: Persistence & Definitions of Success — #UpbeatAuthors  
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Wed. Sept. 27, 2017: Writing, Working Artists, and Social Media Paradox

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Foggy and muggy

PLAYING THE ANGLES releases next Monday. The buy links are here. Pre-sales make a huge difference; but, whenever you choose to read it, I hope you enjoy it!

Apologies for not posting yesterday. I ran errands early early in the morning, and then I was wiped out for the day. It’s been a stressful time.

I dealt with life stuff, and I finished read John Scalzi’s THE GHOST BRIGADES, which I also loved. Learned a lot from it; I love both his structure and his narrative drive.

Monday, I’d finished the proofread/revision of SAVASANA AT SEA. I have to fix one scene in the last third and add one piece of information at the end. I want to do another pass at the first chapter of DAVY JONES DHARMA. Then, I’ll put all the pieces together, and hopefully get it to my editor tomorrow.

I’ve been writing the outline of DAVY JONES DHARMA in my head, and will get it on the page during the next day or two. This morning, I had ideas for the third book in the series, tentatively titled MARINE MUDRA MURDERS, and jotted them down. One of the cats woke me at 3:30 because she wanted attention and then went back to sleep, so my brain had time to percolate.

I have requested material to put together for a potential gig, and work to do on articles, an essay, and a couple of short stories. And I need to work on the books I have for review. Hopefully, after yesterday’s day off, I can attack it with energy today.

I seem to have gone back to having a floating day off, instead of a fixed one. Hey, whatever works. That’s why I freelance.

A part-time artist was tweeting yesterday about how, because he has a day job, he can focus on quality. I found that insulting. The insinuation is that if art is how you make your living, if you actually earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, you must be a hack, create crap, and not care about quality. He then amended it to say he meant “passion” instead of “quality”, which is equally insulting. I don’t take on gigs I don’t find interesting, intriguing, a challenge in a positive way. In fact, I’ve turned down plenty of big money gigs because I found the company’s position on issues revolting.

Even though he didn’t post the words “if you’re paid you must make crap”, that was the subtext. He was trying to make himself and his own work superior to those PROFESSIONALS who are good enough TO EARN A LIVING AT IT.

Think about that for a minute. A part-time hobbyist claims superiority over those who are professionals in the field.

There are plenty of people who have a day job and create good material. Many of them love their day jobs. They love their art. They look at it as holding down two jobs. Some of them are working towards creating full time and leaving the day job. Others are happy with things the way they are. Good for them. But it doesn’t mean that those who earn a living at it aren’t good at what they do. Quite the opposite. Even though “good” is often subjective. Perhaps “skilled” is a better term.

However, this is someone with whom I cross paths on Twitter, for crying out loud. Not someone I spend a lot of time communicating with, or someone who is relevant in my actual life. Did I find his comments insulting? Of course, as any working artist would. It wasn’t an attack on me personally, but it was an attack on the full-time artist and his circle of full-time artist friends to whom the tweet was originally directed — who happens to make more money than I’ve ever seen in my life AT HIS ART AND CRAFT.

This part-timer is not part of my life, so in the bigger scheme of things, who care? I sure as heck am not going to be buying any of his work any time soon. Especially since he’s got a day job, doesn’t need the money, and boasts about it. I’d rather support artists who need the sale to keep a roof over their heads, and I would hope they do the same for me.

I made a couple of comments in response, including the fact that earning a living and creating quality work AND having passion for it aren’t mutually exclusive. And that’s it. He’s not worth my time. It’s like a mosquito. Annoying, you slap it, but it doesn’t define the rest of your life unless it gives you West Nile or something.

It was disappointing to hear that kind of crap from a fellow creator. I’ve grown to expect it from the general public, especially from those who never had the guts to dig in and follow their dreams, and therefore feel the need to punish those with the courage to take the risk.

But I’d rather put my energy into creating my own work and promoting the work of those I like and respect than engaging in a battle with someone who, in the grander scheme of things, does not matter to me. I’ve acknowledged my irritation and anger (rather than suppressing it). I’ve expressed it, without trashing this individual by name publicly, and now it’s time to move on.

Therein lies a paradox of social media. I’ve gotten to know some terrific people. I’ve crossed paths with many others, many of whom leave each other in peaceful co-existence. We can support each other and encourage each other and work to make the world a better place (as the defeat of the latest GOP Deathcare Bill proves). But sometimes, poison arrows strike, and you have to remove them and disinfect the wound.

Things can get out of proportion. You have to ask, “Who is this person in relation to my life?” Sometimes, it’s a person with value, and you figure a way to work things out. Discuss it; perhaps the words were not well-chosen and the intent was not what it seems. People speak without thinking, off the cuff, are unintentionally cruel. Part of being human. When it’s on social media, it’s forever (even with a delete key). Sometimes the cruelty is intentional. So we all have to work to keep perspective. Decide how much room we give each other; decide when to work on forgiveness; decide when to excommunicate someone from our universe.

It’s an example of how social media can be a blessing or a curse, and is usually, on any given day, a mixture.

I still think the slime in the GOP that make pond scum look like leading lights are going to try to pull some last minute crap with their Deathcare Bill Friday night or on Saturday. Fingers crossed they don’t.

I’m also disgusted at the lack of aid sent to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It’s been more than a week. There are machines like planes and high-powered vessels that could be bringing in supplies and making a difference. I know New York and MA have sent help, but two states can’t fix it all.

If it was an island full of rich white people, help would have been there the day after the storm.

This, while cabinet members spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary private jets. I refuse to have my tax dollars used for that. I want a refund. They should have to reimburse the taxpayers from out of their own pockets.

Back to the page. Plenty to do. Onward!

Playing The Angles Cover Sm

Published in: on September 27, 2017 at 8:58 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 27, 2017: Writing, Working Artists, and Social Media Paradox  
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Wed. May 8, 2013: A Harsh Reality of a Writer’s Life

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Wednesday May 8, 2013
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I have a post up on Gratitude and Growth about the ups and downs of the latest plantings. I hope you stop by and leave a comment.

I’m going to talk today a bit about the harsh reality of an author’s life, and the unrealistic expectations of part-time writers or non-writers put onto a writer.

I’m glad everyone enjoys the manuscript prep tips. Daily mailings like this take a LOT of time to put together, so it can only be something done sporadically. Because writing is my business and not my hobby, and how I pay the bills, what’s offered for free needs to generate enough new business to pay for more similar “events”. If it winds up being financially successful as well as building good will, I can do more. If people don’t buy my books and recommend my services, and it doesn’t generate new income, then I have to do something else that will INSTEAD of being able to put together another event like this. It’s that simple. Use the tips; land slots with publishers or magazines (I’ve created the tips because I genuinely want other writers to succeed — when one of us does well, it helps ALL of us); recommend my work as something that helped along the way, which will then generate new business for me, so I can afford to take the hours it requires to put together another event like this, offering a series of free useful things. Recommend my books (the novels and the Topic Workbooks) IF you like them and find them helpful. The income from book sales help pay the bills.

The time it takes to put together something like the daily mailing is the equivalent to writing about three chapters, and then the time it takes to do the daily mailing is the equivalent of about two pages’ worth of time each day. All of that is time away from my own, income-generating work. If it’s not my own work that’s put aside, it means it’s time away from a freelance writing or proofreading gig that will pay the electric bill for the month or get in that week’s groceries.

“Free” to you has cost to me — beyond just the time it takes to put together and the time away from my own work. It directly affects the bills. Eventually, it has to even out, or I can’t do it.

Would I write anyway with a “day job”? I did for many years, earning the right to be a full-time writer. When I left Broadway to be a full-time writer, I’d hit the crossroads where I could no longer do both. I HAD to make a decision. I chose writing. The harder of the two choices, but it also means I have to make more ruthless decisions and make sure I can pay my bills working at my PROFESSION.

That is the reality of a professional writer’s life. We pay the bills with our work, the same way the lawyer, the accountant, and the plumber do. That’s why it’s so important for those who label themselves “writer” to limit how much they write for “exposure” (when National Grid lets me pay my bills with “exposure”, I’ll be able to write for “exposure”), AND writers need to stop working for content mills, turning out dozens of articles a week for pennies and/or maybe/someday pay-per-click payments.

I want to write stories that people love and respond to. But if they don’t buy my books, I have to find another way to make a living. That doesn’t mean I’ll get a day job and write at night. It means I change careers. If people request a class, and I take the time to put it together and schedule it, it means I have turned down other paying work. If people then don’t sign up for the class, I’ve still put in that time and lost that other work, and now I have to hustle OTHER work to pay the bills — I don’t have the time or the financial cushion to re-schedule the class when it’s “convenient” — because, nine times out of ten, the people who wail the loudest about wanting/needing the class still won’t sign up for it, because they don’t want it badly enough to rearrange their schedules to do it. It’s not a priority for them. It’s something they’ll do if they have nothing better to do, including paint toe nails and watch reality TV. They don’t really want to be in a writing class that makes them actually, well, WRITE. It means the material is not in demand — therefore, there is no reason for me to offer it. That’s the way it works. I am the sole breadwinner in the family. I don’t have a husband or a trust fund to pay the bills. It’s all on ME.

If you like an author’s work — any author’s work, not just mine — go out there and buy books and post Amazon reviews and talk about the books on social media, so that said author can land another contract and write more books. Because if the author has to go get a job at McDonald’s or something else — to change careers — chances are, the other books won’t get written. Or, they might, but instead of being able to write a book a year or a book every two years, it might be a book every three or five, and few publishers and agents are going to invest in someone who can’t turn out regular content (yet too many publishers still don’t do their share in partnering with their authors to make sure the sales figures are high). We’re all on tight budgets — don’t cause yourself harm, or spend more than you can afford. But do whatever is in your power to encourage the people making the decisions to keep hiring the authors.

That’s reality.

Back to yesterday:

Many thanks to Donna Alward, who I met at the Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference. She writes at an amazing rate, working for one of the Harlequin lines, and also has a series of novellas out with Samhain. I happened to run across her on Twitter yesterday morning, when I was poking around not doing what I needed to do. She challenged us to an hour-long sprint 1K in one hour. I jumped at the chance. I did just over 1600 words in just under an hour, finishing the fourth chapter of LEADING OPPORTUNITIES. This is from Elliot’s, my male protag’s, POV, and it took some interesting turns. I like him a lot more than I originally envisioned. I mean, of course, my heroine has to adore him, but in the initial planning, he was a bit more of a dick than he is now. There’s still room for him to grow, but he’s more receptive to his surroundings (and still, loyal to a fault).

Worked with students, got some pitches out. Then, it was off to the Marine Life Center, and from there, on to New Bedford, to Gallery X, where the Marine Life Center may partner with the gallery for an exhibit in mid-June. The space is exciting. I wish I had the capacity at this point to create a piece for the exhibit. I’d love to do some soft sculpture, but I don’t think I can make it the priority it would need to be in order to get it done on time. I might do a mixed media words-and-image piece.

We then had lunch at No Problemo, which was really good. All in all, a lovely day.

On the way home, I started percolating on the new play — I have to submit ten pages by the end of the month — I realized that my initial opening and images are a different play than the original theme I intended. I need to separate those out and decide which play I’m writing NOW.

Spent some time reading on the deck. Both Tessa and Iris were in the enclosure. Iris has decided she’s missing out by staying inside, so now she wants to come out, as long as Tessa is close by (even though they stay as far apart as possible in the enclosure). I applied flea and tick medicine to all of them, so we’re covered in that arena.

Today, I have to work in the yard before the rain starts, do my 1K on LEADING OPPORTUNITIES, work on the non-fiction, work on the adaptation, and start ripping apart the book I finished on Sunday for revisions (I have only about 10 days to get this revision done). Early this evening, I have a Mermaid Ball meeting at the Marine Life Center.

So I better get going!

Devon