There’s a difference between art and craft. My parents were both professional artists in different fields so I have a perspective that others may not.
In my experience, “art” is a personal endeavor. You create in some form or fashion for yourself as a hobby or as a way to keep yourself sane. It may be something you do collaboratively with friends. Or you may enjoy sharing the fruits of your labor with friends and family. You might create your art throughout your life but it’s not something you take seriously, if you’re being honest with yourself.
“Craft” is a different story. It’s an activity you continuously work at with clear goals you work toward. “Craft,” to me, is synonymous with “career.” Thus, I approach writing like any entrepreneur approaches a start-up. There are sacrifices I’m willing to make in order to achieve my goals. Time, focus and discipline top the list. Also, like any start-up, there’s a financial outlay. Writing itself is free, of course. But workshops, conferences, promotional materials and travel costs are not.
This is why most agents I’ve met encourage their aspiring and mid-list authors to keep their day jobs. It’s not because they don’t believe in their clients. It’s because they do. And they know that what comes after the books requires money that’s not likely to be covered by advances. It comes out of the author’s pocket, especially when you’re at the early stage like I am. But those dedicated to the craft see it the way I do – as an investment in the future of career longevity.
I work hard at achieving my career goals, regardless of the venue. I used to think it was hard to explain what drives me through each of my reinventions. It’s not for money, although I don’t say no to being financially rewarded for my successes. It’s not for glory, or ego, or however you want to phrase that, either. I realized a while ago that my drive is more intrinsic. I chase my goals with a white hot passion because I love it. The rush that comes from each baby step of success. Solving the puzzles to learn from the inevitable stumbles and the sweet sense of accomplishment at bouncing back stronger. Coming up with new and different characters to put in perilous circumstances then figuring out how to get them out. Holding the finished products in my hands. Meeting and mingling with other authors. Hearing from people who read my words. I love each and every part of it.
What drives you?