Last week I held a stall at the Oratia Markets with my mum. There was a wonderfully creative group of people, and one of them (a visual artist) and I started talking about art, and art careers, and art education.
Her son’s an artist too, and she said that he’d become disillusioned with, and cynical of, the art world (which can be easy to do, unfortunately).
But there is a happy ending – when we make art for ourselves first, that is when it is successful.
When I started writing, I wanted my stories to be something that a younger version of myself would have loved, and that’s what I kept in mind as I was writing The Caretaker of Imagination, and Lucy’s Story. It wasn’t about following the rules or taking genre guidelines into account.
But when I started drafting the third book, Beyond the End of the World, I also started thinking more about what I should (and shouldn’t) be doing.
My writer-friend Cassie (J.C. Hart) labels these “should-isms”. They should be avoided, squashed, or otherwise destroyed.
You may have noticed that I’ve taken a HUGE break from my fiction. My last release was in June 2016, and I didn’t make much of a deal about it. I then got about a third of the way into a new draft, and put it aside.
I decided to take a break from it because I wasn’t happy, and I didn’t know why. I didn’t want to know why, I just wanted it to be okay again. While I was letting those feelings settle, I worked on non-fiction instead (I’m pretty good at avoidance strategy). For some time, I’d wanted to do a sort of memoir about my ‘journey’. This morphed into an art course, which morphed into an art book.
I am an Artist was born, and it has become something I am incredibly proud of. It is inspiring, encouraging, down to earth, and practical.
I’m now working on I am a Writer and a small non-fiction series about writing, starting with Where Do Ideas Come From? These books are specifically for other people. They come from the things that I get asked at school visits and by my non-writer friends.
Having these books that are written for others frees up space for me to write my fiction just for me.
Now I can treat my fiction-writing the way I treat my art-making: it doesn’t actually matter what other people think about it, as long as it tangibilises the emotional blueprint I have planned for it. The people who resonate with the ideas in my writing will love it, and the people who don’t will find other things that they do resonate with.
And that’s totally okay.
What lessons have you learnt about writing? Do you write just for you, or for a specific audience?