Monday, June 10, 2013

Good Books and Beating Starving Artist Syndrome

   I’ve spent a good portion of my life in starving artist mode. Not that I regret any of it, as we always managed to scrape up enough to make the bills and feed and dress the kids but the annoying part was that I was almost always in the situation where I wasn’t sure where my next buck was coming from.

   As a musician I’d have gigs every night for weeks then nothing. Go on tour then, BOOM something happened and the money was gone. You spend every free minute perfecting your craft hoping that someday someone will pick you out from a crowd and launch you into a world of fame and fortune.

   And that last sentence is the reason why there are starving artists. Whether you’re a singer-songwriter or an illustrator or a novelist or a painter, or whatever form of art you practice, we’re stuck in the position of trying to get noticed and promoted by word of mouth. Why? Because if we went around telling everyone what a good singer or author or sculptor we are, we’d be dismissed out of hand because that’s considered bragging or even worse, the ravings of an egomaniac.

   Mohammed Ali once said, “It ain’t bragging if you can actually do it!”

   Maybe so, but that has never been my experience. In the many years I’ve performed before the public, I’ve learned the average person resents talented people, unless of course their circle of friends are touting you as an amazing piece of work, then you’ll be accepted because most people believe that, in order to get along, you got to go along.

   There is no middle ground, my friends. In the creative profession the people are either at your feet or at your throat.

   I remember as a kid listening to rock and roll radio in the late hours of Friday night. After each song some announcer would bellow SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! At Motorcraft Speedway, Monster Trucks breathing fire! Featuring the ELIMINATOR! SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! What would follow was a commercial for Denison clothing just two miles off the Jersey Turnpike, absolutely the best clothing at the best prices. The first 50 customers get free tickets to Motorcraft Speedway, SUNDAY. SUNDAY, SUNDAY!

   This kind of shameless self promotion is called advertising. It is universally accepted by nearly all cultures, and businesses that don’t advertise are companies you DON’T invest in.

   I can’t imagine Emily Dickenson shouting “SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY! I’ll be performing my poetry at the Motorcraft Speedway! Children under 12 free! The first 50 get a free 10% discount coupon for any pair of footwear at Denison’s!”

   No, seriously can’t see that happening. Primarily because she’s dead but you get the point.

   So how do we get our creative enterprises before the public without appearing as shameless self promoters with more ego than talent?

   Mostly we get other people to showcase us. Singer-song writers get featured at benefits to free the Willy’s, the Chicago sevens and the people of Tibet. 

   Writers give talks at libraries; donate books to charity and children hospitals. Artists display their art on the walls of coffee houses and underground galleries. All of them hoping their hard work will be seen and appreciated and maybe, just maybe, a buzz will be created, people will notice and your career will catch fire.

   But it doesn’t happen. Why? Because unlike others promoting their products, artist are expected to live lives of quiet desperation, in lofts and unheated flats where they suffer from some sort of respiratory ailment while they create the masterpieces that will become world famous and will fetch millions at auctions…

  Once they’re dead.

   Frankly, I’d much prefer to be loved and appreciated while I’m alive and able to spend some of the millions my work generates. So have a look at my books on the slideshow above. Click on a title and read a sample from Amazon.


   Because I’m actually very good and I need more people to know that.

   Is that so bad?

   And should you be a blog reviewer who would like a PDF of one of my books e-mail me at and I’ll send it to you