Tough Timing, but then you know, Poetry

I’m glad it’s Poetry Month, even if I can’t devote as much time as I would like to.

It’s been a rough few weeks — and I’m what the docs call an “under-reporter”, so by that, please read: very hard.  I’m depressed, and my confidence is shot to hell.  I’m half-nervous, half-apathetic about an upcoming art show, which is a terrible mindset to have going into it.  I’ve mostly kept my head above the depression, but I anticipate an even bigger crash once the show is done.  That’s the usual pattern.

That’s the problem with putting so much energy into masking the symptoms of mental illness.  I’m already short on energy, so I need to burn “borrowed” fuel to pull it off: to hold casual conversations, to remember to start the dishwasher, to keep from bursting into tears until I’m safely behind closed doors.  To pretend I’m not terrified about my pending (looming) job-search.  I’ll burn even more playing the “cheerful productive professional artist” at the art show, instead of feeling my art career to this point has been a waste.

(Remember: depression lies.)

But having the poetry to distract in measured doses has helped.  Reading what everybody’s coming up with. And the NaPoWriMo “prompts” give me a framework to muddle about in.  I’m not trying to push myself too much this time around — no scrambling to make up lost days — but even eight or ten poems this month is enough to make me feel I’ve done something productive with my time.

I’ll enjoy that while I can.  The crash will come later.

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New Canvas (a Lune)

(I’m starting late, but… I wanted to try the Day 1 prompt for NaPoWriMo 2016, which is to write a Lune, a poem with a 5-3-5 syllable count.)

paintings-316440_960_720Empty easel waits
to be graced
with a new canvas.

Clean and white and smooth
smelling of
gesso and creation.

I can’t wait to start
something fresh!
But what should I paint?

So many pigments,
so many
images waiting,

wanting to burst free.

Art and Fear of Falling

Perch 1, oil painting by B. J. C. M. Studio

What is I fail? What if I fall?

Yup, it’s a day for Doubts.

I’m getting ready for an art show, my first “real” art crawl. It’s been a lot of work, and a big learning curve. I’ve been very chipper about it on my “studio/business” blog, but part of me is in panic mode, already calculating what happens next. Do I want to keep doing this? I can schmooze with the best of them when I have to – I used to work for a chamber of commerce and tourism bureau – but I’ve never enjoyed that part of the job.

I’m an introvert. Lots of creatives are.

But of all these other artists, the ones who are art crawl regulars … they’re probably introverted, too, right? So how do they do it? What if I hate it? A friend of mine says the St. Paul Art Crawls (spring and fall) are her two biggest events every year. I don’t have her experience or reputation, but I know (or at least hope) the paintings are good …  What if they’re not to anyone’s taste? What if no one buys them?

In short: what if I fail? What if I fall?

I know enough amazingly creative people – artists, writers – to understand that talent ain’t always an indicator of success. Experience, hard work, yes, yes… but it’s also a willingness to do the right kind of work. To market yourself. Someone who is “good” but can market themselves right will almost always make a bigger splash than someone with incredible creative talent, but no jones for the business side.

And I’m a muddler at the business side. I can’t balance a checkbook, am shy with large groups, and am terribly awkward about promoting my self or my work. (Plus when the depression strikes, I’m hard pressed to answer the phone, much less tell people to buy my work!)

But this is freelance, this is how it works. And if it’s an uphill battle sometimes, I think I can make it work, but I need encouragement, I need real artists to look at and like my work, I need “real” customers to want to shell out money for it, to fall in love with it and want it for their homes. Otherwise … what the hell am I doing?

So I guess the next few days will say a lot. And then I need to seriously think about my options: do I keep painting? Or does it become a hobby, and I go back to a “real” (my shrink used the word “soulless”) corporate art job? Or worse?

I’m gritting my teeth, and I’m putting it – myself – out there. Wish me luck.

I’ll let you know how that pans out.

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