Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Holy Trinity of Commercial Creativity


"What they forget to tell you in writer school: once you've written the thing, you've got to sell it. You'd think the writing would be the hard part. Not necessarily, at least, not if you're as resolutely non-commercial as I seem to be."
The text above is from the most recent post of a friend who is trying to "sell" her manuscript to a publisher.  I feel for her. She reminds me of so great a percentage of my students when she speaks this way.

I learned to be entrepreneurial because:
  1. I had to make enough money to live.
  2. I was stubborn and refused to do anything but create.
I was raised near affluence. My family was not poor; nor was it wealthy but we lived in a comfortable neighbourhood and I grew up used to many first-world comforts and I wanted to have those comforts with me all through my life. I wanted disposable income so everything I made had to not only sell, but sell at healthy prices. Consequently, my process became the reverse of so many creators I know: I started with the market then created the work. When my first book went to the printer I had sales revenue that vastly exceed my costs.

The common assumption about what I say in the above paragraph can be that I am a "whore," pandering to public taste and creating to market values. To that I say: It is not what you do, but how you do it. The skill and integrity I bring to work I create for an eager market are no different than that which I bring to the speculative work that I create.

For me, there is a creative "Holy Trinity;" Thinking, making, selling.

Art schools and zillions of artists and teachers cover the issues involved with making art. This blog and scads of artists and publications talk about the selling of art, but there is little attention paid to "thinking."

I walk a lot and I don't listen to music when I do. I think. I got rid of my car that was once the only place I was free of distraction and could think and reflect on my work. Now, because I do all my errands on foot, I have more time to think and reflect. Too many of us work on instinct, gut, impulse. Not me; everything I do is strategic; everything is planned. I cannot afford to waste time. And because everything must sell, part of my planning/thinking involves knowing where and how and to whom I am going to sell it.

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