I got a call about a week and a half ago from an internet marketing company. It was Friday afternoon, nearing dinnertime so the girls were following me everywhere as I tried to take the call, but I held on and listened. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I’ve been contacted by internet marketing companies in the past telling me they came across my website and thought they’d be able to help me market the site better, and therefore hopefully, bring in more business. This has never interested me much because, between my arts festivals and my random website and Etsy store sales, I honestly have about as much business I can manage while also holding down a full-time career, raising twin five-year-olds and playing around with other art mediums. I think I’ve held off on any real marketing because I was afraid of what it might bring; sure more steady sales would be a nice bonus, but more sales might also mean I might have a hard time keeping up! I suppose that is not a bad problem to have…to a point. But still, I listened.
This guy had done his research. He knew my site well and seemed genuinely impressed with my work, the layout, the photography and the navigation. Overall, he truly liked the site. He said he found me on the 24th page of a Google search for “artisan jewelry” while doing some research for another client. And yep, he was right; very few, if any, people are going to find me on the 24th page of a Google search. One of my goals for my jewelry business this year was to investigate more internet marketing opportunities, and maybe he just caught me at a good time. He offered me the search phrase “lampwork jewelry” at what I thought was a pretty reasonable rate. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, so he gave me some examples of other clients he represented and the search phrases for them, and I checked them out while I was on the phone with him (the benefit of having broadband internet service!). After talking to him for about 30 minutes and pulling up his business online while I was talking to him to make sure he was truly legit, I finally bit the hook. So, now what, you ask? Well, enter “lampwork jewelry” into your Google search bar and see what you get. It only works for Google, but Google is pretty darn popular, don’t you think? Only time will tell if it’s worth it or not, but it’s month to month and I can cancel at any time so I figured I’d give it a few months and see what happens! Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are just around the corner. 🙂
I subscribe to the weekly newsletter of Canadian painter Robert Genn. While Genn writes about painting, I often find that his thoughts apply to any creative pursuit, including writing. This week’s newsletter spoke to the dilemma of deciding which project to work on next–something that Christa recently experienced.
Genn’s newsletter is reprinted here in full, by permission.
Yesterday’s inbox included the short and sweet: ‘I’ve been painting seriously for the last fifteen years, and I now have trouble deciding what to paint. How do I decide?’ The email was signed ‘Diane W. Reitz, BFA.’
Thanks, Diane. Maybe the BFA after your name gives us a clue. Maybe you know too much. But don’t worry, it’s a common problem, BFA or not.
The creative life requires a steady progression of experimentation and discovery. While acquired wisdom is useful, your knowledge must work in tandem with the daily exercise of your curiosity. A life in art is more a working event than the application of prior knowledge. Further, as you paint, you are able to decide what to paint. Paintings come out of themselves.
Prime your pump–your work goes viral.
There’s a pile of tricks you can pull to prime the pump. Go to your earlier inspiration–drawings, reference photos, field notes. Recall the direction this material took you in the past, and then go looking for a new angle. Don’t waste time. Commit yourself to the most humble application of paint. Get it through your system and out onto your reviewing easel. Perhaps reward it with a quick framing. Consider again the possibilities and commit once more, perhaps to a larger size.
Don’t be precious. Try to think like Edison when he was trying different stuff that might do for filaments in light bulbs.
First thing you know you’ll feel refreshed and renewed rather than burdened with making a decision. Further, you will see a need for further refinement. Personal refinement of vision makes creativity worthwhile. What you do may not be unique in the greater world of art, but it’s the sweet ignorance of outcome that drives you on.
When artists see themselves inching forward with minor improvements, they begin a natural flow that becomes unstoppable. I formerly told artists who were unable to decide what to paint that they might not be cut out for the game. Then I realized that our very existence is based on ignorance of where we’re going. What’s important is having the fortitude and patience to dig around and try to find out. Actually, ‘having trouble deciding’ is a good part of the fun. Accept the fun.
A few weeks ago I submitted my first novel, HURT, to a startup small publisher for consideration. This came after 90+ agent rejections, some of which provided the feedback that the agents didn’t feel they could sell the novel. I figured it was just the business, and maybe my chances were better with a small press.
Then I read this post by well-known crime fiction critic David J. Montgomery, and I realized I was that desperate writer he was talking about. I realized my novel wasn’t particularly original–well-written, yes, but not about anything or presented in any way new–and that, as he writes, I could actually harm my career (not to mention the small press’s reputation) by trying to get it published.
So I decided to shelve it and start over.
Remarkably, this doesn’t bother me that much. I think I’d grown tired of the novel, and I came to understand that I don’t want to spend a lot of time marketing something that I know is “just decent” but not great. I’d rather focus on my current WIPs, which I do think are more original, and better written too.
With that, though, I find myself once again back at square one: which project to pursue? HURT is a crime fiction novel, and I’d like to be known as a dark crime fiction author who occasionally forays into horror. So do I work on the next crime fiction project… or continue the horror novella? (I don’t have any particular momentum on the novella, so all projects are more or less equal in terms of desire.) What would you do?
After a full week of directing all my creative energy toward work for other people, I finally reached a point where I feel comfortable starting to work on fiction again (you know, without feeling like I’m wasting time).
Too bad it’s such a struggle to get started.
I have on my plate:
a novel, sequel to the one I’m currently shopping.
a project that started as a short story, but which, once I finished it, asserted itself as a longer project. Hopefully a novella only.
half a dozen short stories, two of which are maddeningly close to completion, if I could only figure out what to do with them.
All whirl around my brain like a solar system in print, making it impossible to pick just one. In short, if life is the fuel my creativity needs to run, then this past week (month?) has flooded my engine.
Anyone got a spark?