Lately, I’ve been dwelling on the nature of creativity. At the moment, I’ve got two principal projects in that realm: setting up marketing of the audiobook version of Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm, and beginning to record the audiobook of Shy Ghosts Dancing: Dark Tales from Southeast Alaska. I’m finding that tackling these two projects simultaneously is very good for my self esteem.
Like many writers, I’m a poor self promotor. Basically a shy person, I have trouble putting my work out to be scrutinized by the public. Even this blog seems like a trial much of the time.
Consider that my most daunting task in promoting the new audiobook is working up the courage to visit the stores that currently carry the print version of this book, as well as Shy Ghosts, to ask them to carry the audiobook. These are friends and neighbors who are enthusiastically selling my books. I have no reason to suspect they might not carry the audiobook. I see this as a huge favor; asking them to carry this new edition seems like asking for yet another favor!
Creativity satisfies a need within the creator. The act of writing, recording, painting, sculpting—any form of expression—fulfills the artist’s need. The creator is the only person who can, or needs to answer the question, “is it good enough?”.
Once complete, the work becomes a commodity to be kept, given away or sold at the discretion of the creator. At that point, the product stops being solely for the creator’s satisfaction, and must satisfy others. The question “is it good enough?” must then be answered by the consumer. Perhaps the question might be better phrased as “does it appeal enough?”.
Hopefully, the creator accepts the satisfaction of creation, and can let go of that need once the workenters public scrutiny. That’s where things get sticky, because there is, as the ancients said, just no disputing taste. “De gustbus non est disputandum.”
I know this well. Like everyone else, I find works that I like or dislike in every art form. Sometimes, my tastes align with majority opinion, other times they don’t. That doesn’t mean a work is good or bad, just that it does or does not appeal to each individual.
Still, exposing myself through my own work to others’ judgement, criticism, or, most often, indifference comes hard. This is why I find the second task so helpful right now.
As I record my stories for the new audiobook, I’m recapturing the satisfaction of creation. I feel the pleasure of deciding that the work is good enough for me. At the same time, I remember how my previous work made me feel the same way. Finishing just the right take of a story reminds me that the completed work I’m marketing at the moment went through the same process. I remember that the work satisfied me, which gives me hope that at least some of the people who hear it will also be satisfied. I’m reminded that not everyone will like it, or want it, but enough will to make the project worthwhile.
These are happy thoughts to cling to as I place the Sacred Coffee audiobook with retailers (most recently on Amazon.com) and prepare my first ever press release (heaven help me!). Especially since I just found a 1-star review for the book on Amazon.com! It’s my first single star, thankfully. It can’t be my last. I guess I need to focus on the fun, and keep pushing forward.