I must start with a confession: I am terrified of putting my artwork and writing out into the world. I am petrified to exhibit, to blog, to publish or even to allow people to read my works privately. I always have been. While my artwork may have had some significant meaning, when asked I will usually shrug and say, “Oh, it doesn’t mean anything, not all art has meaning. It’s just pretty.” Until recently I had never even told anyone that I wrote, but I’ve been writing stories since elementary school and I’ve been writing novels since junior high (I’m 33 years old). No one has ever read them. I’ve never allowed anyone to read them. At this point in my life that is somewhat frustrating, but I am the only one to blame!
“So why am I writing a blog?” You ask.
“It’s therapy.” I say. “And it’s about damn time!”
There is no reason I picked this time in my life to finally suck it up and put my work out there. Except that I am getting older and eventually I will run out of time. I imagine that it is very difficult for people to jump off the proverbial cliff and be vulnerable. It has been for me, but I think I’m on my way down. I have a finished novel, I have ideas for short stories, I am researching ways in which to get my writing judged and edited. I have a plan and I know where I am going. I think that is half the battle. Often times you may have a great story or a beautiful body of artwork, but have no idea what to do with it. There are useful and valuable resources out there on the Internet and in print that can help guide you as you plan and dream.
I’ve found that entering contests is the best way to get feedback on your works. I have entered many photography contests over the years and have always done well with them. I have yet to enter any writing contests, but I plan to do that very soon!
The writer magazine is a great resource and is digital as well as available in print at most major booksellers. Another fabulous resource for writers is http://www.fundsforwriters.com, which is more about contests and less about funding for me, but it does help direct writers hoping to freelance and market themselves.
As far as artwork goes, I like to browse the periodical isles at Books-A-Million and choose magazines in the arts that are relative to my medium. These will give you a starting point for contests and juried shows. There are plenty of online management tools for artists too. One that comes quickly to mind is http://www.callforentry.org.
Whatever your fear or hang-up might be about putting your work out there, I understand. I probably have all of the same concerns and so do most writers and artists. The work we create is so much a part of ourselves, it can feel like you’re standing naked and split open as someone picks apart your intestines and your heart. However, the reward for sharing your words and your works is such a rush. It is so validating to be accepted into a juried show and I can only imagine how incredible I would feel if one of my writings were to be accepted into a publication.
I guess the point of this blog is to partly convince myself that I can do this, but it is also to encourage you as a creative individual to go for it and know you’re not alone!