Friday, June 19, 2009

Lessons Learned

Journal entry, idea map evertson©09

"My advice to you sir is not to blog." My day at Wesleyan's
Writers Conference was off to a great start. I arrived fully
caffeinated and ready to soak up nuggets of wisdom from
authors and editors in the trenches. Seated in a seminar
entitled Literary Journalism, Alexandra Peers, noted free-
lance writer and former editor for The Wall Street Journal
calls out, "you in the blue shirt, what's your pitch?" I remember
thinking in vain that I should have worn my black shirt. "I'm
an artist and I blog about art, new media, criticism and my
works in progress." I hasten to add that "many of my pieces
contain text and type."
I was off to a poor start; mom doesn't want my art cluttering
up the shopping lists on the refrigerator. So just as I was jotting
DON'T QUIT DAY JOB in my journal I remembered that in fact
I'm not trying to pitch my travelogue to Con Nast and probably the
closest I'll get to the New Yorker is the newsstand. Peer's objection
was a professional opinion that writers should not be putting their
craft out there for free. I say craft here because just as in art there
are distinctions; some writing is craft, some is art. As one proud
of her craft she uses this as an object lesson that "the hallmark
of a professional is the expectation of payment; a carpenter
doesn't just walk into your home and build something for free."
Point taken because as artists we all too often are taken
advantage of in our quests to get some public face time. Still
lesson one seemed to be: use your big ego to bash down the
door to the big ego editor. (hint - start with a terse but
compelling email.)

Journal text, diagram: thinking about art evertson©09

Pleasantly, seminar two was a look into writing a personal memoir.
After teasing apart chapter 5 from Nabokov's Speak, Memory several
people from the week long participants read aloud their memoir work.
Lesson 2 - Hook the reader early because no matter how well written
we need an immediate compelling reason to spend time with you.

I tend to use text visually as fragment; a flash of memory. I'll
continue to remind myself of context as I work; am I
shooting for chance, gestalt, symbol or sign?

I'll probably also be forced to create art 'on spec' since as I look over
my shoulder I'm reminded that I have no patron sitting there, I have
inadequate sales and no desire to paint things to match clients sofas.
But as I looked around the room I saw a few faces light up at the
realization that if they only wrote about peoples pets they could
sell some writing.
Finally I attended a blog and digital media seminar. Here at least the
facilitators were sympathetic to bloggers. A bit of history ending with
a discussion of the current protests in Iran where the only non-
state controlled reporting possible was blog, tweet and cell pictures.
My biggest lesson here is recognizing that while blogs, fb and web
page presence is de rigueur for the 21st century, there are
applications that can can lock me out of the Internet for short
periods of time.
That might give me some time to make art when the blogging
addiction becomes too great ;)
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