Jana Jae, television star and world-famous violinist and fiddler, read my novel "Music to Die For," and wrote to me a few weeks ago: "I LOVED reading your book with so many parallels to my music career experiences! The mystery kept me reading on and on."
All careers, maybe especially those of the artist, have ups and downs--sometimes even heartbreaking moments, but this sort of thing? WOW.
Writing is a very personal art, along with painting, sculpting, and creating music--as Jana Jae does. Others would say creative cooking, crafts, and much more are arts, and I won't quarrel with that. In fact, maybe the work of a good auto mechanic could be named art. But now I'm thinking about the idea art that depends on one individual's ideas being born into words. Many authors, including myself, have looked back over a page of their writing and thought, "Gee, that's good, so beautiful, so expressive. Did I . . . did I really write that? And then we look into our own hearts and accept the personal praise, though we rarely speak it to others. For at least a time, though, we know we are creating art.
However, if it is not to die before blooming, artistic expression needs acceptance and praise from others. Initially, maybe, from members of a critique group, an agent, a publisher. Then, eventually, when our words sail out into the world, we hope for more acceptance and praise from reviewers and the reading public. Probably that is the most important form of payment for art.
I've been writing for publication since the 1980's and enjoyed acceptance by magazine and newspaper publishers, but I did not become a full-time writer until more than ten years later. A salaried career dominated until then. Finding a publisher for my first book, the non-fiction "Dear Earth: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow" did not come immediately, but comments from publishers were often full of praise before the ..."but" explanation for rejection, and within a year I had an acceptance. My hard-cover book was released in New York in 1995. Many authors followed a similar path in the days before wide availability of self-publishing.
And now? After the publication of eight more books--mystery novels--praise from readers is still the best pay. (See the first paragraph.) To know that others are sharing the creative ideas we gave birth to is one of the best gifts writers are given. Unknown people from many unknown places sometimes take the time to write and give us the gift of their praise, God bless them!
And that's a gift we hold in our hearts forever.