So my wife Mary is a painter and this past weekend she had a booth at a Christmas Arts and Crafts show. She’d done the same show last year and had some success, but it’s a lot of work each year to get the paintings ready and set up the booth and transport everything to the venue, then spend the entire weekend manning it.
A little bit exhausting, actually. She wasn’t sure she wanted to do it again this year.
But in the end, she found some partners to join her, which eased the burden a bit. So she went ahead and decided to come back to the show for a second year. Can’t hurt to show up, right?
No, it can’t hurt. In fact, showing up is essential.
We brought the paintings and some Christmas decorations, set up our booth. We showed up.
And you know what? It turned out to be a great weekend. Sure, she sold some paintings, but more important was connecting with people in the community with a burgeoning appreciation of Mary’s work. There was one woman in particular who had visited Mary’s booth last year. Back then, she’d thought and thought about buying a painting, but in the end decided not to.
When she got to the booth this year, she was so glad to find Mary again. “I thought about your art all year,” she said, going on to explain that she’d come to the show mostly with the hope Mary would have a booth again.
It was a great moment, a confidence-building moment. A moment she would’ve missed if she hadn’t shown up.
And, yes, this time the woman made sure to leave with a painting,
It’s hard to be an artist – painter, writer, whatever. We’re continually struggling with our confidence, constantly going through rejection. Sometimes we wonder why we do it. Sometimes we wonder if maybe we should stop.
This little post is a reminder to you (and myself!) to keep showing up, whatever that means to you, whether it’s continuing to submit to lit journals, agents, self-publishing another book, hitting another festival, whatever.
Keep showing up, because you never know when you’ll meet someone who’s spent a year thinking about your work. And you’ll only find out if you show up. Again and again.