Some Words to define:
“Art”? Mine is: “Self” expression. The extension of deep perceptions and values from the unconscious to the conscious level.
“Successful Art”: Self expression plus communication to another.
“Commercial Art”: art that communicates to another in such a way as to motivate them to reward you with money.
“Professional Artist”: an artist who makes their primary income from the sale of their art to others.
“Craft”: the language of performance that allows action to fulfill a specific function. If art, to express aesthetics to communicate emotion.
Put these together for the path of the professional writer:
- you have to admit you want to make a living as a professional.
- you must take constant action: input (reading) and output (writing)
- you must study the actions and attitudes of professionals.
- you must constantly expose yourself to performance pressure: producing and selling your work to get the feedback necessary to know if you are communicating.
- you must do your market research to discover where the “starving hive” of potential customers for your particular efforts might be.
- You must commit to being honest, not “clever.” You are digging to discover your true self. Go deeper into the specific (your own experience) and you emerge at the universal.
- Take your craft seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously at all. You have to be able to laugh at your failures and insuffiencies. You’re only human, here for a little while. Art is forever.
- You must care about your audience. Commit to giving them your best. Understand their hopes and dreams and needs.
- Commit to entertaining them. Learn this first. Entertainment is the “carrier tone” for any meaning, philosophy, or politics you intend to communicate. If you can’t create, and understand how to create, a positive emotion for your audience, in all likelihood you are crippling your potential success. If you know how to make them smile, or decrease their stress, you can earn the right to make them cry, or evoke their righteous rage or cathartic grief.
- Enjoy the process. Every day, take pleasure in your work. It is going to be hard. But it is also the best game in town. Don’t wait until you “succeed” at some external level. Define success as doing, every day, what you can do THAT day to stay on your path. Read and write and strive to be more honest every damned day. Do that, and you win regardless of what else happens.
You are an artist. There is nothing better in this world.
(p.s.–what are YOUR definitions of the terms above?)