My goal for my literary and graphic output is to make them public. Only by mass distribution can I market to a large enough viewership to find those few who’ll like them enough to either pay me to own the work or commission similar work they can specify from what they’ve seen.
Obviously there are works I may not believe good enough for viewing by Joe or Jane Q. Public, especially if marketing is my goal i.e. to acquire paying customers. I don’t want potential customers to se something that doesn’t pass my quality standard. There is more than enough mediocre work floating out there.
Publishing his or her work, the creator risks that others won’t like what he or she has created. Critics, someone once wrote, are frustrated artists. Their is not the skill of the creator; their skill is criticism. They are a necessary element in the world of creativity. We need the varied aspects of the enterprise, even those seemingly opposites or even adversarial. We need critics to fan the flames of interest to attract more viewers but their presence is not for the faint of heart. It requires guts to enter the marketplace.
- “To be or not to be: that is the question;
- Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
- The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
- Or take arms against a sea of troubles,
- And by opposing end them? To die; to sleep;
- No more; and by a sleep to say we end
- The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
- That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
- Devoutly to be wished.
We make the best product we can then send it on its way. It’s like anything else we decide to do in life. Survey the landscape, aim our arrow and let it fly. Wherever it lands we have the chance (and oh, it’s an enviable gift!) of picking it up again to resend it on its way. We don’t always hit the mark but experience may show that where the arrow does land is often better than where it was originally intended to lodge.
Biographies of great and successful producers of art and literature, philosophies or inventions abound in anecdotes of how they shilly-shallied within themselves sometimes for years before deciding their work was “good enough” to take the onslaught of public criticism. Good enough and they can be sent out into the world to face those foreign armies with their slings and arrows but where is that point and can we be sure we’re there?
Anything we create is always perfectible but only God, if one believed in such an incredible entity, makes perfect things because She is perfection itself. An artist has to decide sooner or later to let her prodigy out into the world, ever fearful and gut held in, fearful that the child is no match for that onslaught of outrageous fortune. Do we protect them from hurt and keep them at home until they’re themselves grandparents of protected offspring or, worse, dead like a fearful Hamlet?
No, we send our children into the fray and more often than not they’re fine. The conflict may not even occur or if it does the child proves master of the worst scenario we can imagine and write. How else to experience success if we don’t try?
To create for public consumption is to adulterate our genius (from Latin gignere, to beget) with a skill few if any possess—divining what others like or want. For me this is the true essence and strength of capitalism. It’s when we mix in something from outside us that it takes life beyond our private (from Latin privatus, withdrawn from public life) means to create.
It’s a mixed blessing but adulteration is at the heart of creating art. Who was it said that the greatest artist or writer was he who plagiarized from the most sources? Picasso himself said, “To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic.”
Exposing our work to potentially hostile onslaught is the final polish we put on a gemstone, the friction this begets rubbing and rubbing it until it shines.