Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. All images are ©Katherine Dunn.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What do you want right now?

I've been stuck.

I fell into a horrible trap that many artists and writers do-I started paying way too much attention to the bottomless pit of the cyber world, comparing myself to other artists and writers and it has crushed my sensitivity to make prompt decisions for my work. Rather than making confidant suggestions to myself, like,

"I need to work on this story now and go forward with it",

I've found myself immobile, unsure of what project needs to be birthed. This is not like me and it might be too that now that I'm 57 and have a lot of different pokers in many blazing fires, I just need to realize my focus is easily distracted.

What's even more irritating is I have found myself looking at some writers I really don't like or respect as people and thinking, why does that person have an agent or publisher when we all know they are real jerks to people and the writing is self absorbed,pompous and in some case, bad. Ah, but they have 'profiles', some not any better than mine, that for one reason or another was deemed more commercially viable to the guy writing the check.

Katherine, back away from the computer.

So, I must stop that crippling downward spiral. I have one book proposal floating around out there at publishers-and that waiting seems to easily stifle creativity. You think maybe you will hear this week, and you don't, and for some reason it can create that 'frozen' feeling. The best anecdote is to start another project immediately.

So I'm going to start a new idea for a children's book next week. I was looking at some old book dummies ['dummies' are layouts with crude sketches and the spreads of text laid out for a book] I'd done years ago, back when I had an illustration rep and I was anxiously trying to break into the kid book world. I shared some on Facebook and some of the thoughts were very helpful, but I think the muses in those little stories have evolved out of me, and the stories seemed forced and not very magical.

I don't live in the city and am somewhat disconnected with what is relevant in the commercial world of art or publishing, except for what I see online. I don't have an agent to help guide me so I just forge on. I have felt more like I am entering a different market though. I am not hip or trendy to anyone, nor was I ever, but the commercial world wants that. I must ignore that and do my best work, and listen to myself first and foremost, and then seek discussion from someone I trust.

I have a scribble on my wall, in front of me, "What do you want right now?"

That is the question.

To be read by a wider audience. To be acknowledged. To continue to be able to make a living.

But more than ever, I want to...live, and not feel so compelled to spurt things out in teeny online doses. I love sharing images and my life, it is fun, but I am seeking a longer thought process, a quieter dialogue between me and my muses...and my audience-whoever the heck my audience is.

I walked around last night after chores. The sky was so beautiful, and very eruptive, changing each few minutes, grey clouds blowing in with blue windows behind them. When I'm looking at Old Barn sitting in this show of Nature, would it make it more relevant if I get another book published this week? Would my work with my animals lose meaning if I never sold another painting, or lost the will to paint? Does having an agent or not mean I'm not relevant my current readers? Will having an agent like some make my writing more important to me, or better? No.

Does Pino care about any of this? No.

All around me, the things that end up in story or art first come through me viscerally, through this life, here at my farm. It's my world. In this way, I'm always working. I just have to get back on track and listen inwardly, to know which story to pursue in the best way I can.


Debbie Wetmore said...

I am a recent follower of your site and very much enjoy your style and thought process. I too have animals and a small farm. Maybe your new book could just be a collection of these writings...each story could have a real picture and then an artistic rendition....No real story line or purpose to the book other then insightful observations.....I'd buy one...

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thanks for writing, Debbie. That is one of the 'many' ramblings in my head. I do appreciate you reading...stay tune-if I don't go mad I will still be here writing and creating!

Salley Mavor said...

Katherine, your words are true and your life with the animals is the real deal. Please don't be too seduced by the idea that having an agent or being published is the answer. Just keep making beautiful art inspired by your work on the farm. Somehow, your art will lead you to where you're going.

Lisa Graham said...

The internet is FULL of talented people, all good, but so overwhelming. You are right, it is good to back away for a time. I know SO many really enjoy your blog, your FB posts and your art. I know I do. I have your Creative Illustration book and look at it often. I always feel inspired. I hope you never stop sharing what you share. You do shine.

Children's books sound perfect. Animals and children go well together. :) I hope you find a peaceful place in your creative life very soon.

Lis said...

I think it takes a certain kind of fortitude to be able to navigate the world of creating as livelihood ... to stay true to what excites, stimulates, deeply moves and engages YOU the artist while also dealing with commercial concerns. It is easy for me to say this - I'm not paying your bills! - but what draws me to your work - ALL of it - is the heart, the soul, the magic, and the love expressed. Your work is such a beautiful dialogue with the animals, the land, your muses ... it seems to me as long as YOU are engaged in that conversation, the work that results will be rich and meaningful for others. Or rather: if you build it, the right people will come. I think that must be hard: because what is popular and profitable right now may not be what is deeply nourishing or engaging for you and for like-minded/hearted folks who are drawn to your work. But I would like to believe the cream always rises to the top! I know I return to this space and your books over and over again, mining new inspiration. I know my world is richer because of the work you do. I wish that was enough to pay for a new barn ...

"I want to ... live ..." yes! For me, I often ask myself "where is the energy flowing?" that is how I choose my project of the moment. And I've also come to understand the cycles and seasonality to my own creating ... different work just flows better in certain seasons. Sounds like you are in that rich but quiet period of rest after some major projects ... nurturing some seeds and needing patience to wait and see which ones are hardy enough to sprout and move earth aside to reach the light.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thanks, all of you, for taking tome to write. All good points and insights. Life is sure a big bunch of waves, isn't it...

C.M. Mayo said...

Dear Katherine, I can relate to what you've written because I am the veteran of a long writing career with many ups and downs and the downs, ouch, are no fun. And I too oftentimes feel I spend too much time on the Internet. I have three things to say to you, for what they're worth, and I hope they are of interest to both you and your readers. (1) You are amazing, a treasure, a true artist, and your paintings, your other artworks and your books and your blog are bright lights for so many people, including myself (2) may I suggest keeping handy some books on sports psychology (my mantra is CRA, consistent resilient action)-- seriously, I talk a lot about sports psychology in my writing workshops and it has oftentimes helped me maintain an even keel in the face of mindboggling news (such as that crap novel by a crap writer got a gi-freaking-normous advance); and (3) the book business has changed, so I have to constantly remind myself that my ideas of "success" were constructed 20 years ago and no longer 100% relevant to what might actually make me happy and might actually be a better concept of "success." And at the same time, with advances in digital technology, we writers and artists have many more opportunities to reach those who appreciate our work than ever before. I hope I don't sound too preachy. I just want you to continue blogging!

Anonymous said...


Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Madame Mayo- I love what you have written and it does not sound preachy at all, especially since you walk the walk and talk the talk-I respect that and I know this is just a 'thin' I'm in and will emerge. I'm going to look into that sport psychology-I think I heard a boxer talk about this, how it made him a better business person. I think too, I'm going on my 9th year of the blog - I LOVE my blog [because it's all about me LOL] and I will not abandon it. It is something I feel I must do, and I do it with joy 99% of the time. And you are correct, there are many wys to get our writing to readers, and that is the point, isn't it-sharing story. It is the same with art really. I think too -I'm not a 'group joiner' per se, but I might try some of the online writing platforms like Wattpad to gin new readers and see it if it helps rejeuvenate-or help me focus or-get unstuck. I know I can achieve anything I put my heart into, I know I know I know. Thank you to everyone here, lurkers too-and for this helpful conversation!

Patricia Kowalski King said...

While you wait in that vast field of uncertainty, remember what Matilda said: “I shall stand and be me, and love.” In time, your path will show itself again.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

That is correct, Pat, sometimes I can forget [if only a short time] I am mixed in with ALL OF THIS MAGIC here. The magic will get e back, as will the me. I just hope I don't wake up and realize I was supposed to be a fireman!

Anonymous said...

I wish you lived next door to me, Katherine…we seem to be traveling much the same path, and could well pull each other back onto it when one of us had temporarily strayed off it. The perfect post for me to read today, thank you.

pencilfox said...

dearest dear katherine.
please stop looking and comparing.
you are perfect as you are.
i am WAY hooked on your writing, your books, your blog, your farm.

sending you MUCH love and some bolstering of spirit…. xxO

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Susan -just visited your work and you are made for a childrens book! Love the magic I saw there. Thanks, P.F. that's nice!

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~