The Importance of Showing Up

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.

Booth

The full booth

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,

Still Life

Mary’s studio work

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.

Ballet shoes

 

earlan

These paintings by Earlan Gill

 

Some of Earlan’s paintings, some of Mary’s

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 12 Writerly Quotes from the Decatur Book Festival

Quote MarksOnce again this year, I spent the Labor Day weekend at the Decatur Book Festival – where I always have a great time and learn a ton. This weekend was no different, except  this time I decided to keep a pad handy and record my favorite “writerly” quotes from the sessions I attended.

There were many valuable and entertaining talks, but I decided to limit this list to my twelve favorite, so apologies to any authors I left out! You were all inspiring!

In the future, I hope to turn this into a series by writing individual blog posts that dive deeper into the context of each of the quotes. As I do this, I’ll return to this post and add the corresponding links to the more in-depth entries.

For now, I’m just going to present the quotes with links to the websites of the authors I’m quoting. I hope they inspire you as much as they did me. Continue reading