Guest Post: “What Your Artistic Friend Really Thinks,” by Holly Dutch

This next guest post is a special one for me, as it’s a guest post from a dear friend of mine. I met Holly Dutch a few years ago at a Nickelback fan site Goodreads group, and we hit it off pretty quickly. It became evident quite fast that we were pretty similar in many ways. We shared common interests in books, music, and films.

We also began giving each other nicknames for one another. Truly horrible, disgusting nicknames that I can’t reprint here.

Both of us shared an ambition: to become a published writer. Holly’s made that ambition come true. She’s recently self-published her first novel, Doll of Dawson, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am for her.

Her guest post, “What Your Artistic Friend Really Thinks,” follows below. It speaks for all of us who waited a little long to pursue our artistic ambitions, only to find discouragement from sources you least expected to. I think it’s a piece a lot of us can relate to.

Holly Dutch’s bio: “For over twenty years, Holly Dutch has been a writer for radio, print, and telecommunications. As a broadcaster, she’s written, voiced, and produced copy, radio plays, newsfeed, and newsletters.”

She can be found online at www.hollydutch.com, and on Twitter at Holly_Dutch.

Enjoy.

 

What Your Artistic Friend Really Thinks

Hi.  Remember me?  I’m that friend of yours who had a dream of doing something artistic, and told you about it hoping I’d get some encouragement.

I write, sing, make music, act, paint, photograph, do stand-up, or have some other craft that you think is great, all too happy that I had found a hobby.  Maybe when I told you that my plan was to jump in and go further with my “hobby” you felt I was making a mistake.  Were you scared that I’d foolishly quit my day job, thinking I was going have a YouTube-sensation-insta-career that usually is the kiss of death once Ellen Degeneres invites me on her show?  Did you think it seemed okay that other people—perhaps famous people—do the things I aspire to do, but didn’t think that maybe I had the chops to be as good?  What was worse—maybe you didn’t care?

You’re right.  Maybe I’m not as good.  Maybe I won’t make a million dollars.  But I want you to know about what I’ve done to get to this point and how I’ve felt.

When I first took on this project, I wasn’t looking for your acceptance or your permission.  I discovered something I loved to do and I wanted to try my hand to see if I could take it to the next level.  I began to invest in better equipment, books, and I even spent time researching with professionals.  My “hobby” was starting to take up much of my time.  I might have even missed calls, forgot to reply to text messages, or even declined offers to go out citing I was busy with my project.  I’m sorry for this, but just like you needed time to take your kids to baseball games or take those night-school cooking lessons, I too needed time to work on what I loved to do.

I became immersed in my craft.  So, naturally it was all I wanted to talk about.  Just like new parents only wanting to talk about their babies, or pet owners talking about their animals, I hoped you would understand that after all the times I was there for you when you had exciting things going on, that you would be there for me during this exciting time: my chance to make my art my new job.  If nothing else, take my art to a level where I could showcase it to the masses.

Maybe you thought it was a pipe-dream.  You offered to change the subject, or politely reminded me not to expect that success was going to be easy.  You warned me that criticism will come, and you didn’t want me to get hurt.  You thought I was taking this too seriously.  The absence of encouragement, replaced by your doubt only told me that you really didn’t believe that my dream could be coming true.  You began to think that normal nine-to-five folks don’t do interesting, creative things and expect to make a living out of it.  You continue to think that perhaps it could for others, but not me.  I’m your normal friend.  I play by the rules and don’t do crazy things like take chances.  Didn’t you think all of these worrisome things have already played out in my head as I began to doubt myself throughout this ordeal?!

No one said I was going to be rich.  I certainly didn’t.  I don’t ever recall saying I would even leave my career, and I definitely knew enough to be realistic about where my bread was buttered.  So, I began the process of marketing.  I made a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and a personal website showcasing what I can do.  Still, you had doubts.

All the blood, sweat, and tears I put in to my project—and still nothing.  You don’t “like” me on Facebook and you don’t think to retweet me.  You had no idea that the work I had put in to make my craft the best it could be.  All those nights I stayed up until three a.m. and the offerings that you would get dibs on my work when it was finished.  I.e.: the “friend fee” (which is free).

Like an obsessive fool, I’m now checking my Twitter constantly, looking for new followers.  I scan my Facebook for new likes.  I check for updates on my website hits.  I check for these things on almost a minutely-basis.  I want to be liked and want to know that what I set out to do reached the world, no matter how small the numbers are.  I worked so hard, and desperately hoped you, my friend, would be supportive and become one of my biggest cheerleaders.

Alas, I have now come full circle.  I started out something I wished to do because it was a dream.  When I worked my tail off to hone my craft, I wanted to be someone you could be proud to call a friend.

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12 thoughts on “Guest Post: “What Your Artistic Friend Really Thinks,” by Holly Dutch

  1. Holly,

    All I have to say is Amen. When I was reading this, I felt as if it was my brain speaking aloud. I had to check to see if the ghost of me was writing this. You completely captured many feelings I have felt and defined their pathos. I love your succint truth. Wish I’d said it. Now I can get MY friends over here to read this, and maybe….just maybe….I’ll find my friend again. (I just published my first book, too. And this is very fresh for me)

    Congratulations on your book! And thank you for sharing with us through Gus.

  2. So I’m reading your post, wondering what the snarky undercurrent was all about, wondering why you felt you had to justify your art to your friend, and then in the last few sentences it hit me, hard, and I realized that I have been struggling with the same feelings of abandonment by my friends just when I could’ve really used a hand. Or a thumb. Pointed up. Those folks that I thought would “like and share” – that I DEPENDED ON to like and share – had flown the coop. Maybe they were worried that I had laid their lives out in living color in “Hack” (in quotes for lack of itals).

    But then something wonderful happened: a whole new crop of friends, some from primary school, popped up like spring crocuses. Unlike my close friends, this gang wrote the Amazon reviews, signed up for Adventures in Limboland (my insouciant blog), liked and shared my Huff Post blog posts, turned their friends onto Hack, and generally behaved like true buds.

    I absolutely abhor having to pimp my stuff, be it my novels or other things, but if I don’t do it nobody else will. Except maybe my bosom buddies?

    • That’s pretty much all I was trying to convey. Nothing more, nothing less. I’ve also found unexpected support from unlikely acquaintances and friends, and yes, it is a wonderful feeling. 🙂

  3. Holly, you are preaching to the choir. I’ve had many of those thoughts. A few friends are wonderfully supportive, especially the ones in Albuquerque. I wish I could say the same for the ones I’ve known the longest.
    Gus, thanks for sharing this post.

    • The truth is I’ve found more supportive artistic friends via my blog here than I did in real life, or through the ones I made via Facebook or other social media sites.

      I’m glad I’ve shared this post.

  4. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that most of my non-writing friends don’t really get the whole marketing-by-word-of-mouth thing. So they aren’t really engaged in spreading the word. Of course, most of them don’t do much social media anyway.

    • So true, Rebecca. I’ve tried to explain the importance of “liking”, “sharing”, “fanning” from a guerilla marketing perspective to the unentrepreneurial and have failed, for the most part, to get through. Maybe it has something to do with a preponderance of Grecian formula soaking through the aged craniums and furthur embalming their already pickled brains…?!

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