I’ve been thinking and taking notes all week and there is much in that material that I could share, and may share later, but it seems best to skip right to the conclusion I came to: I’m kind of an ungrateful bitch. While it often seems to me that I put so much out and don’t get a proportionate amount back in return, it really isn’t true. I do think I put a lot out into the world—a blog with two regular postings a week, active participation in facebook, teaching, giving talks—but they are all done in my way and on my own terms. I do not approach them as marketing but as sharing my loves and my interests. My mother told me more than once when I was young that if I insisted on doing everything my own way, exactly as I wanted, I had to understand that things might be harder than if I followed the norm, as in “Don’t complain to me that no one asked you to dance if you insisted on wearing army boots.” She said these things not to be mean but to guide me and out of a frustration which I understand. This 65th Year writing project has grown out of my frustration with myself.
I no longer have difficulty saying the words, “I am an artist” and I know that I am good at what I do but I still often feel the need to apologize for my career and my lack of income. A lot of it comes from me but it is not all me. I do meet people who look at me as a talented person who could use some advice about how to be more successful in the world. Instead of saying to myself, thanks but I am doing just fine in my own way, I question myself and feel bad about myself. I need to follow Gertrude Stein’s advice: “Let me listen to me and not to them.”
I have exactly the career one should have if one does everything her own way. I pretty much make the art I want at the pace I want and put it out into the world in the same way. I have a husband who believes in me and wants me to be able to do exactly that. I have grown children who have said the nicest things about how my art has enriched their lives. In the past two years, I have been contacted out of the blue by two institutions who wanted to purchase a Spirit Book for their collection, a design magazine from Taiwan that wanted to feature my work, and two institutions who wanted to show my work. How can I feel anything but gratitude? Well of course I can, and have, but it is foolish. With that recognition, that hard little knot has dissolved. I go forward into this 65th year with a new resolve to make the most out of these gifts and be thankful for them.