Friday, February 23, 2018

What's Old is New Again: 5 Common Traits of Successful Artists



Note: I originally posted these 5 Common Traits in 2010, but the comments below them in blue are 2018 new.

______________

I somehow 
wandered upon this blog by Lori McNee that posted what they thought the 5 traits of successful artists were.  They focus on visual artists, but I think many of these work for writers too. 


I'll put my own thoughts below in blue text...



5 Common Traits of Successful Artists:

1.  Art is the core of their lives. Successful artists wake up and go to sleep thinking about art. They carve out time in their day making art or marketing it. (In fact, for these artists, there seems to be no clear distinction between the creativity of making and marketing.) If they have a full-time job, it is secondary in their minds to art and mostly a means to and end. Their real job  is being an artist.

-- Here's something you may not know about me--I go to sleep ordering my manuscript in my head. Or I play with the title or different titles right before taking a nap. I think about a specific poet all day and am unclear why they are in my head. Yesterday was Delmore Schwartz. The day before Frank O'Hara.

Sometimes my poetry life gets so intermingled with my regular life, I call up a friend to tell her they have these new protein bars named after the Anne Sexton poem, "Her Kind." --"No," she says, "They're just called 'Kind' bars."  I'm confused, I'm SURE the wrapper read, "Her Kind." I am wrong.  



2.  Successful artists understand how business works in the art world. Successful artists understand the entrepreneurial aspects of making a living as an artist. When they encounter something new or unusual on the business side, they investigate and learn to do it or delegate the task. They know the value of relationships and network in person and through social media.  

--This feels like a nice way of saying, Don't be a big baby or a huge jackass if something doesn't go your way or you don't know how to do something.  And you don't need to understand exactly how something works, but if you are confused, do research or ask someone. It's okay not to know something, but there are so many resources with the internet at our fingertips, you can find things out for yourself with just a few keystrokes.  



Successful artists have a strong work ethic. They  manage themselves, their creative energy and resources. They balance the time to produce art and to market it. Whatever rhythm of working they choose, they stick to it. Whether these artists enjoy the business tasks or not, they know they must be done  and they do them without complaint or resentment.

---"Make sure you are creating more than you consume." And I thought, yes, that's an important element to think about as poets, writers, & artists. If you find yourself always in passive moments--watching a TV show, reading posts that you really don't care about, scrolling some endless feed (words or photo), you are consuming. If you are writing, interacting with another poet on a collaboration, doing writing prompts, reading a poem then responding to it, writing a blog post, a review, an essay, a journal entry, you are creating.  


Successful artists are resilient. They know that success does not happen overnight – it requires hard work. These artists understand that things don't always work out the way they expect. When they make mistakes, they focus on solutions, not on regrets. They learn from experience and experiment to improve on any success they have.

--- This is so true. I've send some of the best poets aren't the ones who are the best, but they are the ones who won't stop writing, who won't give up. They don't let a rejection, a NO, a missed award, an overlook, stop them. I know an incredible poet who you will never hear about because they have stopped submitting because the rejection part was too hard to handle. It's a loss for the readers in the world when that happens. 

I have made huge mistakes as a poet, from sending my Visa bill in with a snailmail submission, to missing a deadline, to writing a terrible poem and thinking it was good. We all do it (okay, maybe not mailing in your Visa bill), but mistakes will be made, failures will happen, and so what.

Keep writing. 



Successful artists spend time only with people who are 100% supportive of their art career. They limit their time and emotional involvement with people who are negative  especially about art as a career choice. If people close to them have the skills and inclination to be more directly involved in their art career, the artist can produce more and better. Successful artists do not allow unsupportive people to be an obstacle to their plans for success.

--If you make one change in your writing life this year, this is one thing you should do-- keep the positive, supporting people in life. Do not hang around with wet blankets, people who bring you down or do not support your art.

If you need to get offline because it's too much information, negativity, or people you don't really care about, do so. Hide or mute accounts that bring you down. Unfollow, deactivate, take a break, hide your laptop. 

You do not need to apologize for not tweeting or not posting on Facebook. These are volunteer jobs and if you don't show up, it's okay. It's important to create boundaries, compassionate boundaries, in our life. 



Until next time, 


~ Kells 
________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Friday, February 16, 2018

Poem by Matthew Olzmann: Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czesław Miłosz

I committed to blogging once a week. This week, I'm shaken by another school shooting and the deaths of children and a country that won't respond.

Just know, I'm focusing on my editing work and my family & friends. I'll return to my own work and hopefully a better attitude next week.

But for now,
I offer you this poem by Matthew Olzmann for this week's blog:


Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czesław Miłosz

You whom I could not save,
Listen to me. 
Can we agree Kevlar
backpacks shouldn’t be needed
for children walking to school?
Those same children
also shouldn’t require a suit
of armor when standing
on their front lawns, or snipers
to watch their backs
as they eat at McDonalds.
They shouldn’t have to stop
to consider the speed
of a bullet or how it might
reshape their bodies. But
one winter, back in Detroit,
I had one student
who opened a door and died. 
It was the front
door to his house, but
it could have been any door,
and the bullet could have written
any name. The shooter
was thirteen years old
and was aiming
at someone else. But
a bullet doesn’t care
about “aim,” it doesn’t
distinguish between
the innocent and the innocent,
and how was the bullet
supposed to know this
child would open the door
at the exact wrong moment
because his friend
was outside and screaming
for help. Did I say
I had “one” student who
opened a door and died?
That’s wrong.
There were many.
The classroom of grief
had far more seats
than the classroom for math
though every student
in the classroom for math
could count the names
of the dead. 
A kid opens a door. The bullet
couldn’t possibly know,
nor could the gun, because
“guns don’t kill people,” they don’t
have minds to decide
such things, they don’t choose
or have a conscience,
and when a man doesn’t
have a conscience, we call him
a psychopath. This is how
we know what type of assault rifle
a man can be,
and how we discover
the hell that thrums inside
each of them. Today,
there’s another
shooting with dead
kids everywhere. It was a school,
a movie theater, a parking lot.
The world
is full of doors.
And you, whom I cannot save,
you may open a door
and enter a meadow, or a eulogy.
And if the latter, you will be
mourned, then buried
in rhetoric. 
There will be
monuments of legislation,
little flowers made
from red tape. 
What should we do? we’ll ask
again. The earth will close
like a door above you.
What should we do?
And that click you hear?
That’s just our voices,

the deadbolt of discourse
sliding into place.


Originally published on the Academy of American Poets "Poem-a-Day"
https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/letter-beginning-two-lines-czeslaw-milosz




~ Kells
 ________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Thursday, February 08, 2018

On Rejection: And Some Advice from Drag Queens Too...




I'm leading a class on submitting and publication with Susan Rich on Saturday and it has me thinking about rejection and how it can mess with us as poets, writers, and artists.

Being rejected is part of the deal as a poet. It's doesn't always make it better to know that, but it's true. You will be rejected more than you are accepted. You will celebrate an acceptance then sadly weep into morning coffee over a rejection that rolls in the next day. 

Sometimes you will receive rejection after rejection after rejection and like Jinkx Monsoon, you say, "Water off a duck's back, water off a duck's back."





(By the way, Jinkx won that season...) 


And since we're talking drag queens (and RuPaul's All Stars is on tonight).

Here's some other advice I've learned from drag queens:



Boos are just applause from ghosts. 
   ~ Sharon Needles

Don't be bitter, just get better.
  ~ Alyssa Edwards

Ultimately, this is a marathon not a sprint. Enjoy the journey. Yes, you may trip over a patch of rejection or get all sparkly-eyed over that rare acceptance bird you found, but what it comes down to is writing the poem. 

Control what you can control-- reading, writing, submitting.

Let the rest work itself out. And if you get a rejection, remember Sylvia Plath's "I love my rejections, they show me I try." 



My advice?

Life is short. Do your best. Make good art.






~ Kells ________________
 www.agodon.com
www.twosylviaspress.com
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