Would You Pay to Create?

It is an encouraging time to be an artist. Social media has provided artists with many tools to promote themselves without the help of agents, publishers, stores and sales.

However, all of these things are fleeting and contingent. There are waves of these good times that come in different forms. At one point, mass-market paperbacks were a revolutionary way for publishers to save money. After a while, the trend shifted away from buying them and, for various other reasons, mass-market paperbacks were only a priority for certain kinds of books.

It's all in flux. Right now, things like Instagram are good for pictures, Smashwords and Amazon are good for ebooks and facebook seems to be beneficial to pretty much every kind of art.

The only problem is that these forms of media come with an ever-changing, strict set of rules which more favor art that is easily digestible. You might find yourself compromising your art in order to fit it into the package favored by a particular medium. After a while, these forms of media will fade away as things do. Maybe it'll take a while, but they won't be around forever.

I say this not to alarm you, but to encourage you to question what it is that causes you to create what you create. Do you create it because you think it is easy and will make you money, or do you create it because you love it? If you just want to make money, that's fine, but don't be surprised when you no longer can. Nothing lasts forever.

However, I would put this question to you. If you absolutely had to, would you pay money to create what you love creating? If the answer is yes, you're probably in the best position. That is not to say you should pay, but it gives you an idea of where you're heart is at. What length are you willing to go to do what you love? Would you create it even if there was a possibility no one would see it?

I don't say this in an attempt to make you isolate yourself from the world, but to keep you from getting discouraged. If anything, having an attitude of creation that comes from a love of the work will keep you coming back to the world even after what would be considered worldly ‘failure.'

Remember, even though these forms of media are contingent, you can adapt. Walt Whitman went door to door selling printed copies of Leaves of Grass. Instagram is great, but what if it's not around forever? Get a website and put up flyers for it where people can see your work. As a matter of fact, your website won't be around forever either. Set up a booth. Put out business cards. The only person who is going to stop you is yourself.

Smashwords and Amazon work great for getting digital copies of your book out, but what if they go bankrupt someday? You can weep, or you can take action. Get a website where you have your own digitally formatted copies of your work available. It will take more work, but it's what you love. Learn how to make books from the bottom up and try making a few of your own. Use a room in your house as an art gallery for your paintings. Have concerts in your back yard or someone else's.

These are all means of making your work available. Most artists would love to have major promotion for their work and that's wonderful. However, just be aware of the fact that all the avenues you could go through have a beginning and will also have an end. All those beginnings happened because someone decided to start out small and put the work in. Always remember that you can do the same. Artists always have many options. If you feel like options are few, create some new ones. Creating things is what artists do.