I'm blogging today from a pretty cool place -- the SEA (Self Employment in the Arts) Conference in Lisle, Illinois.
There's a lot of artists and a lot of talk about art, but my final takeaway, and what I'd say to anyone who didn't make it here today, is simple: if you want people to value you as an artist, treat your art like it is something valuable.
It's not a coincidence that this comes in the wake of the backlash against Huffington Post not paying their writers and the exploitative lie that attention and visibility for your artistic output alone will help your career.
This past year, I've done a lot of artistic things. I'm prepping for my debut book launch, I'm doing school visits, recording an original soundtrack for a book, and somehow managing to be a halfway decent parent and entertaining teacher all at the same time. This is all hard work, and I think my time and output is valuable.
I think art, as a a whole, is something worth supporting. This doesn't mean I send someone a bill for every time I draw a stick figure or write a sentence in a notebook. I write a blog for free, run a Guys Read book club at my local indie bookstore for free, and do a whole host of other things because I feel compelled to do them and organize them on my own terms.
But my time and art are valuable. I've worked really hard at writing for many years, and if I don't treat it like something valuable no one else is going to do it for me.
I still fight my inner critic on a daily basis, but I go to sleep feeling like I am worth something.
My art is valuable, and I will treat it as such. You should too.