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 ;)


A rambling rose said...

Good lessons learnt here Bill! thanks

Bill Evertson said...

Thanks for the visit and good luck with your house :)

Owen said...

Hey, really interesting post there... so, should we all stop blogging ??? Can you imagine all the engineers at sitting around looking at each other scratchin their heads if all of a sudden there were no new posts one day and everyone deleted all of the millions of blogs there are out there ??? If all their traffic meters went suddenly dead ? So jeez, should I start charging a fee for visits to the Lantern Show ? Haven't heard about any witches lately ?

JafaBrit's Art said...

Great thoughts to ponder. I am sort of two minds about blogging. On the one hand I view the blog like a blank canvas and another sketchbook/artform and then on the other hand wonder if too much exposure I end up being taken for granted.

Then again there has been some fantastic opportunities to meet fellow artists, explore questions and ideas etc etc and see what is going on out there in this big old world.

ria said...

Same here, blogging is a door-opener to meet other artists, find ideas and inspiration while giving me the opportunity to do what I like the way I like (to do)it...the 'expectation of payment' works immobilizing I find, but I wouldn't mind making some money with what I do neither...Tough!
Thanks for that Bill, reading your post felt like I was in the room with you.

Bill Evertson said...

Hi Owen - Your site is a loss leader and a drawing card; I like the site so when the Magic Lantern book hits the shelves I'll buy it!
The witches are stirring the caldron in my head and may yet become a subject of some sort. In the meantime I've been
busy exchanging 'text messages with the dead' (see side bar of blog)

I like the comment that this is another sketchbook/artform Jafa. There may be artists who wake up in the morning with flashes of inspiration and get it all on canvas or whatever; I am not one. I work around that inspiration on paper and sometimes (gasp) in the blog where it's out there for anyone to run across. Damn messy process but worth it, as you say, for the opportunity to meet fellow artists and see how they sort this art stuff out.

I agree with you Ria concerning finding inspiration from other artists through blogging. The dialogues help us stay focused and it's always a pleasure to admire someone's work and be able to follow their progressions.

Art said...

Jeez, people never ask if you're getting paid if you are writing in a diary, reading articles on the internet, or sharing your work and opinions socially...But if you call it a blog, you're wasting time if you're not being paid?

Of course, if anybody wants to give me money, we could work something out.

Bill Evertson said...

Well put Art :)