I just read this great article by Hugh Howie over on Huffington Post. In it he talks about his advocacy for writing, and self publishing that writing. He said:
“We don’t rail against the proliferation of YouTube videos from aspiring filmmakers or DeviantArt accounts from future designers. We celebrate the act of bettering our craft by producing early works.”
This got me thinking about my own journey as an artist and writer, and the little encouragements along the way.
Drawing was easy. I started with an Elfwood account, that actually still exists. I got a DeviantArt account later, and still update it now and then. People like and comment on my art still. I sold some paintings, wrote some tutorials for wetcanvas.com, and could have continued on a path to an artists career. Not an amazing one, but a nice one.
But as much as I love art, I couldn’t make it my career. I’m good, I’m not amazing, and I don’t have the patience to practice and study to become amazing. I can’t even decide what style I like to do, so there is nothing consistent in any of it.
I posted my first chapters/short stories to Elfwood. That was my first taste of reader feedback. Again, some of it still exists, and I don’t plan to take it down.
Then I switched to writing.com. An interesting platform, with some nice features. I had a few readers, but I couldn’t pay for a subscription so the limit of five stories up wasn’t enough. I did delete my account there.
I had my own websites. Several, in fact. Getting people to go to your website is a pain in the ass. I loved building them, but then I’d take them down a few months later.
The first time I actually got money for something I wrote was when I joined redpaper.com. It was the first micro-transaction community, and I really loved it. I won a contest and made ten bucks there once. Sold some comics, some desktop pictures, and a few articles and stories. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was incredible to actually get money, even less then a dollar, for the things I wrote.
This was a form of self publishing, and I didn’t even realize it at the time. It encouraged me to produce more things all the time. I don’t care that I got so little… it was mine! I earned it. It felt amazing.
Later, I switched to magazines… I was suppose to earn $20 per article/story they published. It didn’t work that way. I ended up getting nothing, which cut my confidence in publishing a lot. The fact that they didn’t see fit to pay me, even though I had a signed contract saying they would, contributed to my writers block. It made it a little easier to walk away when my life got so stressed out.
Youtube, DeviantArt, and similar venues… they offer more then just places to show your work. They aren’t just brag galleries, and show pieces. They offer the chance to actually make money doing something you love. Authors should have that same opportunity.
It might not be a lot of money sometimes, but does it really matter? It’s about encouraging an artist of any kind to get better at their craft. And if I can earn enough from writing to go to Starbucks once in a while, then that’s encouraging. Because it makes me believe some day I might make more. Maybe even enough to do this full time.
And that’s worth it.