Needed Mentor Co-op for Writers and Artists

alphabet-15461_150During the Renaissance it was the fashion for aspiring artists to attract wealthy patrons who supported the struggling artist or writer and who acted like an agent in finding the right clients for their protégé.  Today if you don’t have the an agent it means you have to do the hard yards to promote yourself.

The disparaging label of self-promoter is often wrongly given to people who network with ease,  people whose nature thrives in the milieu of social networking. How incredibly fortunate you are if you are creative as well as a natural born marketer.

But for the vast majority of us creative folk the marketing of ourselves and our products is an internal battle that is hard fought with the knowledge that if we want to sell or promote our work it comes down to DIY. Each avenue of self-promotion that we study is hampered with fear about our capability to make it work.

How many thousands of writers and artists out in the world know that their lifelong expression of their heart is the only path for them.  Accepting that each day of working at their craft learning, experimenting and honing their creation will be without remuneration of any kind. But then it is complete and for us writers we hawk our manuscripts around the publishing house and for the artists it is the galleries.

Dealing emotionally with the rejections before trying again and again. Buoyed by the stories of house name authors who met the same fate with their first work.  Agatha Christie, five years of rejection, J K Rowling, C S Lewis, Stephen King with his first novel Carrie, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was rejected because it was ‘so badly written,’ eventually picked up by Doubleday and went on to sell 80 million copies world wide and Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejections before her epic work Gone with the Wind was published.

Self publishing of course is a good way to get your work out there but you still have to market it. To me there are few creatives who have that strong action based networking desire and know-how to promote their work.  They would rather be telling the story than selling the story.

What myself and these fellow artists need is a co-operative mentor, a group of people who are there to encourage, advise, guide and when the final product is finished, to promote it. Bit like The Den on ABC television where mentors invest in small operations wanting to grow into full bloom abundance and taking a cut of the business.

Could we make it happen ?What do you think?

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Friday – Writing Tips from Successful Authors

alphabet-15461_150With thanks to Time Out New York for publishing great tips from successful authors. My pick of the bountiful crop.

Reza Aslan (rezaaslan.com) Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House, $27) “The best advice I can give an aspiring writer is the one I received years ago: Nobody cares about you or your work like you do. Your agent, your publisher and your publicist are all wonderful people who work their hardest for you to succeed. But in the end, your success as a writer depends almost wholly upon your own tireless efforts to promote your book and make sure it gets the attention it deserves.”

Edwidge Danticat (facebook.com/edwidgedanticat) Claire of the Sea Light (Knopf, $25.95) “It might sound corny but listen to your heart. Let that inner voice guide you, the one closest to your truest self. The story you are most afraid to tell might be your truest one, your deepest one. Don’t let neither success nor failure deter you. Remember the excitement of those first days, those first words, those first sentences—and keep going.”

Ben Dolnick (bendolnick.com) At the Bottom of Everything (Pantheon, $24.95) “Get a kitchen timer. Writers are ingenious at redefining what qualifies as doing work (‘If I just spend this morning cleaning my desk…’). A kitchen timer tolerates no such nonsense. Set yourself a daily writing quota (as little as a half hour is fine at first), set the clock and get to work.”

Anthony Marra (@anthonyfmarra) A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth, $26) “Read widely. Write for three hours a day, six days a week. Throw out the red pens and retype your work. When the frustrations accumulate and you want to give up, keep in mind that your solitary struggles to shape language into meaning will become the most profound moments of your creative life. Enjoy yourself.”

Friday Tips for Writers

alphabet-15461_150I ain’t Scott Fitzgerald or JK  but I am a writer, albeit with ‘L’ plates.  I think if you scratch the surface of any writer they will tell you they are still learning with each new work. The old maxim remains true ‘it is never too late to learn.’ Stephen King wrote in his non-fiction book  On Writing – a must read for all new writers – If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

Read: Stephen King reads between 70 to 80 books a year and says  it’s not to study the craft; I read because I like to read…. Yet every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones

Write: Do you want to write? Then discipline yourself to write every day. In between writing the final para of Losing You and starting on the next novel squirreling away in my head, I set myself a 75-Day intuitive blogging challenge publishing it on a Facebook page. Each morning after a short meditation that set my intention to receive a topic, I wrote whatever first came into my mind. Most were obvious topical issues or my personal soap box rants but others, like ‘whirling dervishes,’ ‘fields of glory’ and ‘Petula Clarke’s number Colour My World’ came out of left field. If you are not sure what to write, not ready to write then try this intuitive writing exercise, it stretches you and teaches you a lot about your  relationship with writing.

Show Not Tell

Years ago at a week long live-in creative writing workshop given by the late Australian author Barbara Jefferis, I scribbled what I believed to be a dynamic short story. Proudly I handed it in and waited for the accolades. I was crushed when Barbara said it was simply an outline for a story and that  I needed to  ‘show’ rather than ‘tell.’  With my first non-fiction book, Finding Your Voice, a self-help guide to public speaking it did not matter.  ‘Telling’ was the perfect medium  and I had no trouble wagging my potential literary finger.   But fiction – ah there lies the rub or should I say tell.  In time perseverance rewarded me, having wrote ‘she sat gazing out of the window daydreaming,’ it clicked –  pesky telling again.  I deleted and experimented with the words again.  ‘By the open window, the light etched her profile, her eyes bright, seeing beyond the garden to far off places.’ Wow, why didn’t someone tell me about this before.  She did Mary it’s just it took you a few years to understand. It was good old Winnie Churchill who said ‘ Never ever give up , never ever, ever give up.’ He was right and so was Barbara Jefferis.