Why I will always be honest as an artist
I got another email today from a publisher who said my children’s books were not quite right for their market. Although it was an extremely helpful email (of which I am very grateful), I am left feeling a little disheartened. I can’t possibly express this though, right? Because as an artist you need to be all super-confident, 100% of the time and write something on Twitter like ‘I had an interesting email from a publisher today’, to convince everyone that you are a raging success and make them in awe of all your amazing contacts… not. Come on, admit it, we’ve all done it, right?
It got me thinking that when I do have my children’s books published (when, being the operative word!) I would hope that my journey there was a good one; one that did not involve arrogance but one that involved a lot of hard work, self belief, persistence.. and most of all, honesty. It seems that artists are allowed to share their struggles and difficulties only after they have succeeded… we all like to hear how JK Rowling and Lauren Child struggled to get their books published, but they seem easy stories to share once they’re an obvious success.
I have another Twitter account too, one where I blog about my 2 year old and the crazy things he says and does, and I openly talk about things like poo - and it’s okay because there will be a hundred other mums all going through the same thing - they will 'retweet’ and give you helpful advice. You ask a question about how to get your kid to eat greens and you’ll get dozens of responses. Back to the artist persona, you ask a question about pricing art and it’s like you’ve just dropped a fart in a doctors’ surgery. Cue tumbleweed.
I guess that part of it is down to business - I mean, I’m certainly not suggesting we all go tweeting our hourly rate or talk about our kid’s toilet habits when we’re trying to be professionals (why do you think I have a separate account?!), but it’s just an observation that made me think about what kind of professional I want to be. I don’t think you ever can be totally honest if you are trying to run a business (there’s nothing more off-putting than a freelancer who slags off one of their clients!). I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with flowering the truth a little bit if it means you can get more business out of it, but 'flowering’ is very different to 'bullshitting’ - they both may stink, but one is a considerably nicer option ;)
I have also 'met’ some lovely and very helpful professionals through social media. At the end of the day, we all want the success part but actually I want to know I’m dealing with real people - I want to see the hard work it’s taken for someone to start a business; I want to journey with people and hear their stories, because the tough ones make the good ones that little bit more exciting somehow.
If you’re a professional, how honest are you on social media and do you find people helpful? If you’re an artist I’d love to know your thoughts on this too.