My editor Barbara Ardinger is many things. She’s agreed to drop in here from time to time to talk about editing, Maine Coon Cats, and whatever else strikes her fancy, but for the moment I want to talk about her skills at dog Latin and embroidery.
Barbara and I met on a list-serv years ago. I first realized that we might be bosom friends when she mentioned this motto. Translated, it goes, “Art for the Sake of Money.”
I read that and thought, Hey, that’s me. I need that. So I immediately contacted Barbara and asked her what she’d charge to make me a wall hanging with that sentiment. We agreed on a price (which was what she asked, and very reasonable), and Barbara set to work.
Since Barbara is also a witch, she gave me the added value of creating a whole lovely picture, chock full of wealth-enhancing images, and done in wealth-enhancing colors. I robbed my “Princess of Quite-A-Lot” wall hanging of its dowel, demoted my “I Believe in Make-Believe” plaque to a position above my bedroom door, and hung up my new motto, right over my desk, where all that wonderful prosperity energy could rain down upon me as I worked. It helped me to remember that client work is client work, and done for money. It’s a contractual relationship in which I barter my skills, knowledge, and creativity for money. No money, no work. As my dad used to say, “If I’m going to go broke, I’m doing it with my feet on my desk.”
I’ve been blogging a lot, both here and at the Blood-Red Pencil, about how the advances in publishing on demand services have made publishing for niche audiences cost-effective and simple. And that’s true. But as I pursue my own writing and art I find myself realizing that in some ways, the most important work I do is not the work I do for money. It is not client work. It is not books I design with an eye to sales. It’s the books I create for myself, because giving my life visual substance and form on a page helps me understand myself better. And someday, I hope they’ll help my son understand me–and us–better. Print on demand technology and prices makes that possible, too.
Here are a couple of pictures I’ve painted that trouble many people, but that’s okay–I did them for me. They say something important about my life. And that’s all that’s necessary. Understanding what’s client work and what isn’t helps me to remember that not everything I do needs to meet with widespread approval.