So I just received my second rejection. The first was from the Beliot Poetry Journal (which was really sweet of the editor to tell me that although they were going to pass on my “self-confessional PSYCH ward poetic experience” he’s glad I’ve survived all of the things I’ve been through- haha…love that) and the second was from The New Yorker- a different poem entirely.
I won’t lie. The first one stung. Like a bee. Right in the head. (Obviously, it hit the ego more than the heart, but at least I’m aware of this.) What, I have an ego? YES. I frikking have an ego! Guh…it gets old. I’m fairly certain any artist, musician, or writer knows damn well what I’m talking about. There’s a fine line between wanting to share your art and wanting to feed your ego: this is the truth and it’s how it is. As artists, we like to dress things up like that old beast just doesn’t exist and we simply “are driven to create!” but what drives us? If we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that at least sometimes, it’s the ego. If we’re in denial, we’ll say, “it’s just something I feel I have to do!” (Etc.)
So, there’s always that battle: self vs. art vs. self and striving to be more than simply wanting to get that little stroke that pushes you to your next piece. This is what I’m always thinking of when I submit new art somewhere: what am I searching for? Simply sharing this piece? What is my message? Am I imparting enough of myself in this piece so that people can feel it? I need to be saying something. Yes, the “praise” and the feedback come with the territory- that does feel like a warm, squishy blanket of “acceptance”- sure it does, but I want to know that I’m making an impression on somebody and adding something- no matter how small- to their lives, or the way they think, see, and feel.
Which brings me back to rejection. As in, “rejected by editors”. Maybe I’m a bit of a sadist, but I’m celebrating being rejected. Yes, I’m serious! I was rejected from the New Yorker,-come on…it’s The New Yorker for crying out loud. Being rejected from The New Yorker is a rite of passage. While the first rejection stung (get over yourself, kid!) I was completely elated by the 2nd one. Tickled. Serious tickled, because although I’ve been writing since I was a teenager (poems, songs, short stories, etc.) and have never had any education there at all- even having dropped out of high school in the 10th grade- I’m still acutely aware of my own ignorance as a writer, and, a poet. By claiming total ignorance, I can open my eyes and mind and have the necessary depth to fill in with an education in Creative Writing. Because I’m going into this saying “I know nothing”, I can learn so much more. Ego deflated!
I’ve created a Poem folder on my laptop, and also, a “Rejection” folder. It’s the rejection folder that will drive me in my art and work far more than any other. It’s proof that I have tried and do try and will not stop trying. I’m copying and pasting every rejection into that folder (dated, filed away).
Failure is nothing more than proof that you have tried.
I also entered my first short story competition last night- the top prize is $3,000. That one is going to hurt. Ha. But, it’s being slapped down in life that I have turned into an art form, so, the more rejections I receive (and there will be plenty); the more food for more art. It’s a self-sustaining cycle but one that holds valuable lessons for me, and I cherish them dearly.
I awoke yesterday morning to this beautiful sight: shadows on my tent wall. I can’t describe my semi-obsession with shadows, even still- after years of photographing and studying them. When I’m surrounded by them, or even in their presence, I feel as if I’m with friends. They move and change and shift and breathe and swell and grow; so many times I’ve been too full of words to say anything and I’ve sat silently among them- as still as a stone- and they moved for me.
They tell stories. They have seen thousands of years and they speak- but not with words. In pictures.
Lately, I’ve been battling this inner identity war: the artist vs. the academic. My mind tells me that I must finish my degree and then pursue a second one in Criminology and Law. It’s my destiny: I’m going to help people. I’m going to stack up a few more certificates along the way (perhaps) and continue to strive in my work so that I can be of some value to others. But the academic is murdering the artist. The artist is now anorexic and throwing fits and lashing out- and really, do I really want to wait until I’m in my 50’s before I do gallery showings and such? Probably 80% of my closest friends have had numerous juried-in showings, publishings, and commercial successes. I want to work on my “Habitat” series and future showing, probably in New York, but I won’t ever do that as long as I’m in school. I simply cannot do both. I’m the first person to go to college in my family- at least on this side of Texas- and then there is only one who has beside me. I come from a family of women who believe that their roles
do not cannot extend further than the bedroom and the kitchen, and then those roles are still firmly instilled into them by a man, or, patriarch.
My free-thinking, wild, Bohemian daughter (Heidi) opened my eyes to exactly how medieval that all is, and she is my strongest influence and inspiration over the years. She’s had her brow and septum pierced, sports a rather large tattoo on her left shoulder, has died her hair pink, green, yellow and blue (was blue in there too?) and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
I know that I’ll probably be in school for another three years at least, and then what? Will I be fulfilled as a parole officer? A probation officer? My “artist self” is throwing a fit. I want to take pictures! I want to edit. I want to write poetry again- something I haven’t done in almost two decades. The artist isn’t dying, only sleeping, but I don’t know how much longer I can hang on. I want to record my songs and produce again- so many things I want to do that will simply have to wait.
And so I will.
Sales have been good to me lately.
I just received this email this morning:
You’ve just made a sale on Redbubble! Your work was so brilliant that someone showed their appreciation with their wallet. Unfortunately we have to mark this event with a very boring email but it is full of Useful Facts (TM) about the sale.
‘But when will I get this money?’ we hear you cry, and rightfully so. Well you can find out here: http://support.redbubble.com/faqs/top20/when-do-i-get-paid
Thanks for being who you are and doing what you do, we love having you around Redbubble.
Mr Baxter – Chief Officer of Sending You Good News
1x Photographic Print of “”The Longest Dream””
Print Size: Large (610mm x 117mm)
Your Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)
The sale details:
Retail Price: AU$39.17
Manufacturing fee: AU$24.95
Total Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)
You’ll receive: US$14.95
While $14.95 won’t buy me a new car, or even a full meal at a buffet, (ok, I think it would cover the buffet), I’m not complaining because when you’re as busted as I am, every penny counts.
Fine Art America is now telling me that they’re having “technical difficulties” with my print order. Here’s our problem: they want a crystal clear image (seeing how it’s a B&W landscape of trees in the rain) and fail to comprehend that the ADDED blur and grain they’re seeing on the image is very much intentional, as it is with many of my photos. I create mood with added film grain and gaussian blur- it’s present throughout many of my images. I create depth and mood with my textures. (This is why I’m fond of film cameras.) When shooting with a DSLR, I will purposefully jack up my ISO so that there is present grain in my photo- I also shoot only in monochrome, and RAW. (All manual.) Trying to explain this to somebody who is a “straight photographer/staff member” is beyond frustrating, because now I feel like she’s (“Dawn”) challenging my artistic merit.
The site is called “Fine ART America”, not Fine PHOTOGRAPHY America, and it pisses me off to no end that now, the staff can officially “interpret” what is and what is not- your art!
Would they tell a painter that he or she needs to resubmit a painting using “this or that” acrylic brand paint? Then why do so with a photographer? I intentionally muck up many of my images with blur and grain- that is my trademark style, and I’m known for that.
I wrote Dawn/Fine Art America back and told them all of this, to no avail, and she proceeded to tell me that I needed to reshoot the image (?!! “Are you for real, Dawn?!”) so that they can produce a higher quality photo without blurring or grain. GEH!!!
They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.
How unfair is it to the buyer, who’s paying $731 for that print- to assume that they’ll be getting what they ordered, all the while, behind the scenes, the staff is telling the artist to RESHOOT THE FRIKKING PHOTO and then- they’ll ship the buyer a completely different image than what the buyer ordered- without letting the buyer know!
I immediately lost respect for Fine Art America. Completely.
I told Dawn that I would not be reshooting or resubmitting a “new photo”, and challenging my artistic interpretation would not be tolerated, and that she had only two options:
1.) Print and ship the original, as the buyer intended, yes, I’m aware that it is 9 feet long. It IS supposed to be somewhat blurry if you’re looking at a 9 feet photo on your farging monitor, Dawn. You have to back up about 3 or 4 feet, Dawn!
2.) Release the buyer’s name and address so that I can deal with him or her directly.
I then gave Dawn my Redbubble link, that links her up with their # 1 competitor’s site, and showed her the 160 comments on that image, and how I’ve already been selling the same image there- with no complaints.
(And, again, have made another sale this morning in fact.)
Dawn considers this a “high risk print” because it’s 9 feet long.
I reminded Dawn that while they consider it “high risk” to print, if they didn’t go through with the order, it would be an even greater risk to them, because I will post a journal entry at Redbubble- and within one day- at least 5 countries would know about it by the end of the day.
All of my friends, buddies, pals, and acquaintances are all artists, all over the world. I don’t know many who’re not.
Dawn decided that she would contact the buyer and “inform him” of their troubles. I am livid.
They’re used to seeing landscapes that are crystal clear (etc. etc.) but I inject my own mood and presence into my work with my lighting, exposure, film grain and blur. It adds a retro-vintage feeling to the image that isn’t done in one little mouseclick. It’s not a simple filter that’s applied. It’s various layers (sometimes 20-25) and very much like a patchwork quilt, I will errase bits and pieces from each layer, blending and merging and blending and merging- much like painting- until the final piece has a certain depth and mood.
I’m waiting to hear back from Dawn/Fine Art America.
Will update soon.
Land and Sea