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First off, before we begin, you need to read this:

http://christinesteendam.com/blog/2016/2/9/the-day-i-wanted-to-give-up

Great blog.  And kind of the focus of what I’m talking about.  But first, I just want to say, Christine is an awesome writer.  Shadows of the Unseen is an amazing book.  She is one of the best not fantasy writers I’ve read.  I’ve interviewed her for the podcast.  Check it out here.

Finished?  Good.

All art is expression.  No matter what the level of skill – in fact, let me point something out.  In one sense, skill doesn’t matter.  Now if you’re serious about this, no doubt you are doing what I’m doing and writing SOMETHING day in and out (most days).   That said, if anything from the last few blogs I’ve written should tell you, the artist/writer/whatever anything is that skill level might be the least important thing at the beginning.

Passion is the first and last thing you need.   You need passion to do ANYTHING in life that is worthwhile.  Without passion, you got nothing.   Skill makes you polished, presentable and does grab attention, but passion is the trumpet and drum you beat to.   You cannot Be Yourself without it.

But if you are reading this, you are interested in the business of your art, and in that, skill matters.  That all said, beyond figuring out tenses, and completely expressing the ideas you have with your lines and words, an important question comes to mind.

What is your art worth?

Because art is so subjective, value is something that is hard to quantify.  Time I suppose is something that can be acknowledged, but beyond that, you can’t measure joy, or disdain, or whatever feeling being invoked from art in any kind of way.  You just know you like/dislike it.  (Or worse, feel nothing at all about.  That as an artist should be your worst nightmare.)

Worse yet, we live in a commercial world.  Indigo, Amazon are the two big things I worry about in Canada in regards to books.  Brick and mortar stores are shrinking, but they still are important.  They have bills to pay, and they need to sell books, whether they are your books or anyone else’s.  This is the important sentence in this paragraph.  Unless your name is JK Rowling or Stephen King, by in large, it is numbers that bookstores care about.

You do an art that has no real way to be measured in a world that requires numbers to survive.  The irony of that is cruel and it’s easy to see why writers and other artists quit facing that unyielding reality.  It’s easy to see why people do quit looking at this truth.

I’ve published two books.   Reading this, do you care?

That is the reality each and every person that creates has to face.

I’m not one to dwell on problems without solutions.  So what can you do?  First and foremost, you can’t worry about the things that you can’t control.  This is such a hard thing to grasp.   But you have to acknowledge the fact that life is going to happen, and people are going to like what they are going to like, and that it’s a competitive marketplace.   So bookstores may remove you, and may not even be interested in you.

One bookstore in Calgary who claims to want to support independent writers refused to launch my book.  Now, I should be a lot more grassroots.  I intend to be after I get some things rolling in March.   But I’m getting rejections even now from the places that I’m supposed to have support me.

You have to roll with the punches.  Like I said, you can’t control what other people do.  You can only control what you do.  You have to adapt, and accept that things come and go.

Finally, and most importantly, you have to maintain your passion.  Passion is all you really got, and you are going to have to go through mountains and hurdles and deal with the fact that people aren’t going to believe in you.

You got to believe in yourself, and keep going.  Remember the sacrifices that you make getting to where you are.  If you are reading this, and have done something.  Congratulations.   You did it and that’s awesome.  Your work is worth it.    Keep going.  You worked too hard to get here.  You deserve the reward.

Now excuse me.  I’m getting into that bookstore now.