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Aug. 19th, 2014 | 04:13 pm

What nobody tells you as an artist is that every project starts at the beginning. Not just the blank page, the empty stage, but that you have to re-establish your credentials and your quality every time. You can coast on reputation a little, but it doesn’t last long if you don’t deliver.

What nobody tells you is that praise—a standing ovation, a good review, your teacher’s approval—makes you feel good for a day, but one line of internet criticism from a stranger will reverberate in your skull forever.

Frankly, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

(I tried to feel bad when that critic killed himself the next year, but I didn’t.)

What nobody tells your boyfriend is that doing three forty-minute shows still leaves you too tired to call home at the end of the day. So does writing 3000 words.

And then feeling guilty about it. But not guilty enough to call.

What nobody tells you, the artist, the writer, is that spending an entire day being paid to do something you love is not the same as fun. It’s often better than fun, but it’s not fun. What nobody tells you is that spending an entire day being paid to do something you love is sometimes a lot less fun than spending an entire day doing something you love for free.

What nobody tells you is that selling out is strangely comforting. That once you’ve decided to package your product and suck a little corporate dick for the chance to show most of what you like to do but structured as a James Bond theme and wearing black and yellow because it goes with the logo, the large check that ensues will feel earned. That paying rent with your art money feels like finally growing up. That you probably can come up with five hundred words about margarine and even feel proud of making it sound like something people would eat. (Please don’t.)

What nobody tells you is that if you believe in yourself and dream big dreams you will still come in second to someone who worked hard. Or to a talentless hack related to the producer. Or to someone sleeping with the editor. Or to your best friend whom you will have to congratulate as sincerely as possible. Or to someone no better than you and there will be no reason at all.

What nobody tells you is that if you believe in yourself and dream big dreams and work hard you can accomplish anything, but if you’re willing to wear a sexy outfit while accomplishing it, you’ll get paid a lot more.

What nobody tells you is that you have to be the kind of person who can hear a hundred no’s before you get to yes, and that if you are not that kind of person, selling your art may not be for you. Here, let’s practice:

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. I’ll call you back. No. No. No. No. No. We went with someone else. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. My cousin will do it for free. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. This did not fit our needs at this time; we sincerely wish you the best of luck placing it elsewhere. No. No. No. No. No. NO. No. No. No. NO. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No response means no. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. NO. Next! No. No. No. No. No. My boss said no. My editor said no. No. No. No. No. No. NO. Sorry. No. No.

No.

Speaking editorially, we should get to yes here, but it’s better to experience the dissatisfaction of not having our expectations fulfilled, so that we can quit before it crushes us. Or, so that we can immunize ourselves.

So that we can say, I am blue. My work is blue. The blue of a thousand cerulean seas. The blue of Texas bluebells. The stunning blue of the sky from the top of the mountain. The deep blue of sapphires. The gentle blue of my mother’s eyes. The best blue.

They might want red.

And what nobody tells you is that it’s not up to you to be red, and that whether or not you want to make your blue more of a purple, or draw a crimson border around it, or pass out violet-tinted glasses to all your readers, it is a choice. Your choice. Your choice to change or to stay the course, and neither of those are wrong.

It is not a cruel world full of no.

It is a beautiful world in which the one (or many) persons to whom your work speaks are waiting for you. Waiting for you to grow, to revise, to polish, to publicize, to sell, to share. Waiting for you to make art they love and will pay for.

Go and find them.

______________________________________________
whipchick is working an event at the biggest mall in Kuwait this week. It is more than a mile long and has six Starbucks. It is also beautiful. And tiring as hell.


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Comments {61}

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Laura, aka "Ro Arwen"

(no subject)

from: roina_arwen
date: Aug. 19th, 2014 08:31 pm (UTC)
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I love this with a thousand blue suns! :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:15 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! It loves you back :)

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blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Aug. 19th, 2014 08:33 pm (UTC)
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Wow. This is really good. I love your words.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:16 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! It was an interesting process :)

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kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatre

(no subject)

from: bleodswean
date: Aug. 19th, 2014 08:49 pm (UTC)
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Nice! Realistic, comforting, and a shout-out to the positive!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:16 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! That's what I was going for ;)

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(no subject)

from: faerie_spark
date: Aug. 19th, 2014 11:11 pm (UTC)
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The idea of creating, just to go through those countless rejections, terrifies me. Everytime I hear a no, I think that's my last and only opportunity to be noticed/publishd. Of course, that's not true.

As usual, your writing hits the nail on the head here, both factually and emotionally.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:18 pm (UTC)
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Thanks :) Yeah, I try to be more immune to rejection, and I probably have a thicker skin than most. It really does help to send out a lot of work - I'm at the stage where I've sent out enough stuff that when i get a rejection I think, "Wait, what did I send you?" and it hurts a little, but nowhere near as much as the first three. Those felt awful! But now it really is one of many rather than something I've set my hopes on.

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John Louis

(no subject)

from: grail76
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 01:03 am (UTC)
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Nods. Lots of "No," to go around.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:20 pm (UTC)
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So much no! :)

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Veronica Rich

(no subject)

from: veronica_rich
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 01:24 am (UTC)
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As someone who has spent 20 years putting to use what I once loved unconditionally for a paycheck (and not currently satisfied doing so), and loving it less so as a result ... I hear you.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:21 pm (UTC)
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Yeah - that's a tough place to be. I just switched from my "dream job" which was going pretty well, to focus on writing full time, and starting over really bites :)

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solopolist

(no subject)

from: ceelove
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 01:44 am (UTC)
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LOVE THIS. Unsurprising: I say Yes to so much of what you write.

(I did the Hemingway thing of papering a wall with my rejection slips, Way Back When.)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:21 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! That makes me feel great :)

I'm so glad rejection slips don't come in the mail any more - it's so much nicer to just hit delete!

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braver

(no subject)

from: _swallow
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:51 am (UTC)
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I loved this, thank you!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:22 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome! And thanks :)

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adoptedwriter

(no subject)

from: adoptedwriter
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 06:24 am (UTC)
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I love this sentiment. This is why I fight to stay in teaching in spite of the fact that I am over fifty, over-experienced and still can't get hired even as a classroom aide. AW

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:22 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Keep fighting the good fight. And thanks :)

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favoritebean

(no subject)

from: favoritebean
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 08:35 am (UTC)
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As a musician, this entry really resonated with me. Nobody tells you that for that one performance, you will spend hours upon hours building for 45-90 minute show that you never get paid enough for. Except maybe you're not in it for the money each and every single time.

If something we do evokes a heartfelt and passionate response, then I am happy for even just a moment.

Thank you for writing this.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:23 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome - I'm glad it spoke to you.

Yeah, the audience often has very little idea how much time and effort go into being ready to do the fun part!

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dmousey

(no subject)

from: dmousey
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 01:11 pm (UTC)
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It's not a cruel world full of no...

Your words are full of wisdom this week. Thank you... :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:23 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome, and thank you!

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Teo Says

(no subject)

from: eternal_ot
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 01:20 pm (UTC)
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*Applause*....the last paragraph sums it up perfectly...*hugs* I am waiting to see you in prints..:) and all the best for the event..it sure looks marvelous.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:23 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! It's going well but I'm definitely running off my feet. I hope you're having a good family visit!

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millysdaughter

(no subject)

from: millysdaughter
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 01:42 pm (UTC)
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Yes.
-
PS - is that the mall with the ski resort inside it?

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:24 pm (UTC)
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Thanks :)

It's not - this one's in Kuwait and that mall is Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. Which I work next door to and do my groceries at :)

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drwex

Once upon a time

from: drwex
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 02:47 pm (UTC)
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When rejection slips DID come in the mail a useful practice was to "buddy up" on submissions. You'd produce a piece and a list of places it might go and send it to your buddy. They'd do the same with you.

When the item came back rejected you'd just cross off one thing on the list and send it out to the next. The rejection was for someone else's piece so it didn't feel nearly as bad. Sometimes your buddy would say "Hey, I need some more places to send this" or you'd tell them that. That sucks, but it's much less frequent and much easier than a daily stream of cuts flowing toward you. Sometimes you'd hear "Hey, that thing got accepted at this venue; I'll send along the details." That was pretty nice.

Since you didn't then have to track all the things out there and be anticipating all the rejections it made focusing on doing more of the work easier.

That said, life is not fair. Putting a little distance between yourself and the unfairness sometimes helps.

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whipchick

Re: Once upon a time

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 21st, 2014 12:27 pm (UTC)
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Oooo, that's a great idea! I agree, it's so much easier to have an "agent" of some kind as a buffer.

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suesniffsglue

(no subject)

from: suesniffsglue
date: Aug. 20th, 2014 03:25 pm (UTC)
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What a wonderful message. This is so good to read. Thank you!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Aug. 21st, 2014 12:29 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome - I'm glad you liked it!

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