Query – need advice! (part 2)

 

Sketch by Theresa Barker.

Back in April I wrote about considering a newsletter in response to requests from a couple of writers who had contacted me. I posted a query here about whether it was a good idea or not.  Fortunately for me, many of you responded with thoughtful observations about the purpose of the newsletter, whether it was something I really wanted to do, and with suggestions about making it more interesting.  Recently I decided to revisit the idea, this time inspired by the “month-end” or “year-end” recap posts that some of my blogging colleagues do.  I’m experimenting with a short periodic update on my author website, that includes a “snapshot” description of current work and a writing tip.  I recently redid my author website and decided to try out the newsletter as a part of the website “redo.”

Why did I redo my author website?  After much design thought, I decided that  I wanted to develop an “artist statement” and then share it on the front page of my author website.   Lately I have been thinking about how to describe one’s work as a writer or as an artist.  I heard a couple of artists say recently that, besides creating art, you need to be able to talk about your work to other people.  They said this is partly to help people learn about your work, and partly to help you define the meaning of what you are doing to make art.  So, I asked myself:  What keeps me coming back to the studio day after day?  What’s the best way someone has responded to my artwork?  What questions am I asked most frequently about my work?  Who is my art for?  Through these questions I wanted to identify who and what I am as a writer, and to articulate that in a brief “About my work” statement.  You can see it here:  https://theresabarker.com/

Many authors feature their recent books or publications on the front page, and that’s an excellent way to help readers find your work immediately.  Because I’m not yet an author with a book out, I’m focusing on building a body of work; so I thought, instead I’ll explain what my work is about on the front page, along with a bit about current projects and a mention of recent story publications.  As part of the author website redo, I was inspired to add a newsletter largely by reading blogging colleagues who talk about their projects of the month, or who write a “snapshot” of their day, or who offer their insights about writing to fellow bloggers.  The December newsletter provides a “moment in time” description of my writing session, a recap of current writing efforts, and one of my best writing tips.  I hope you’ll take a moment to view it – and I hope you’ll think of taking a moment to tell me what you think!

You can see the newsletter here:  https://theresabarker.com/newsletter/

What are your thoughts?  Have you ever considered an artist statement?  Those of you who are artists, do you find these statements helpful or off-putting?  If you are an artist, how do you talk about your work when someone asks you?  – Do you whip out a smartphone and scroll through photos?  (just kidding)  If you are a writer, how do you talk about your work? – Especially if you are not yet a New York Times Bestseller author or a writer with publication credits?

Thanks for visiting!

10 thoughts on “Query – need advice! (part 2)

  1. I’ve read about an artist statement on another blog recently. It got me thinking, and you also just so happened to write a post about it. While you haven’t published a book, you do have a lot of writing credentials under your belt, and also you tend to write about some topics more than others (e.g. fiction) – which you can all use as a springboard to present your art 🙂 I like the questions you posed there, especially what keeps you going back to your work. Being an artist and creative is always frustrating and progress can take a while to come, and not all of us will make a living from it overnight. With an artist statement, it could help us remind us why we do what we do.

    For me, the artist statement I have is on the left side of my blog, and also under my ‘About Me’ page too. I’ve kept it simple to just a few paragraphs at most – why I write and what inspires me to write, and what I hope to achieve out of my art 🙂

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    1. Ah, Mabel, thank you for the lovely observation that I do have writing credentials in my work. ! I grinned to myself when I read your comment. And I like this: “With an artist statement, it could help us remind us why we do what we do.”

      Thank you also for pointing me to your artist statement – I took another look at it, and it really warmed my heart! I especially liked reason for writing #5, “Because of You/We’re all from different backgrounds, living in different parts of the world. We all have dreams, hopes, problems and feelings. We’re all different yet so similar. And we’re all so similar and yet so different. There’s no doubt that we all have something to learn from each another.” Wow. Such an affirming declaration! Tears behind my eyes when I read this. So connecting. You have a gift! 🙂

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      1. You are very kind, Therese. I wrote my artist statement a few years ago, lol. I do still believe in it, though. To be honest I feel that you are a better writer than me. From reading your blog, I gauge that you right pretty much daily and get in the habit of it – practicing your craft and creativity, and that’s how we get better at it and so surprise your readers with your words, like how you mentioned in your statement. It’s like how I was surprised your illustrations go so well with your words 🙂

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      2. Oh my gosh, Mabel. When I read this, I was floored. I often think to myself, Mabel is a better writer than I am! The way you have of completely exploring a topic, of looking at it from so many different sides, of coming up with one-of-a-kind insights … in nonfiction, especially … I truly admire it! When I write my nonfiction posts I mentally think of channeling your calm competence and effectiveness in writing. !!! Thank you. {blush}

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      3. It is very kind of you to say, Theresa. But I don’t think I am a better writer than you. In fact, I don’t think anyone is better than anyone else in anything they do…just that we are on different continums. Just like how you do your non-fiction in such a different manner and on completely different topics 🙂 We can all not compete but learn from each other 🙂 Wishing you a great end to the year ❤

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  2. I have never even thought of the idea at all. What an extraordinary notion. It reminds me that we all need to develop an elevator pitch for our manuscripts, but gosh, TALKING about our writing seems so impossible, doesn’t it? Don’t they speak for themselves? hahaha Thanks for bringing up such a great topic. You have a lovely website. So tell me how you negotiate having a separate website from your blog? It is, isn’t it? Mine is separate, and I find I am too distant from my website. It’s a problem . . . .

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    1. Oh! Luanne, you made my day, I think of you, a poet having so much more experience than me, I’m tickled to know I could bring something to your attention that you may find useful. I wonder if you might take a look at this website: https://www.theartleague.org/blog/2015/08/24/artist-statements-we-love/ – for examples of short but engaging artist statements. I found other “how to” sites, but this site has examples that are not boring! I especially was inspired by the ceramicist’s statement. Anyway!

      Great great question about having a separate author website from a blogging website. Let me think … it started out that my blog was a just-for-myself effort that I didn’t want to have as an Official Author Blog, so I think that’s why I made the two sites independent. That way my blog could stay a little “under the radar.” After I began really investing in my blog and connecting with other writers like you, my author website received benign neglect. I didn’t really know what to do with it, so I let it sit out there passively (with a menu item link on my blog). With this little re-do that incorporates a newly-written artist statement, I also added some of the hand-drawn images I liked from my sketching work to enliven it. Tell me more about how you feel distant, maybe about why you’ve decided to keep them separate, too? 🙂

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      1. Like you, I didn’t decide to do it. I started this blog for myself, as you say. It was to motivate me into thinking of myself as a writer instead of somebody just messing around with words. Then when I needed a website, I didn’t want to change my blog to accommodate it as generally when someone does that I lose track of them. I didn’t want to be the one lost track of, if that makes sense. But it doesn’t work very well to have both if they aren’t part of the same website. Still haven’t figured it out! Thanks for the link!!!!

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      2. “I didn’t want to be the one lost track of,” – good for you! I was thinking about you in the past few days, Luanne, about the decision you made to go all the way to a PhD with your poetry. What a big and courageous decision! I only went as far as the MFA, although I do have the doctorate in another field … and for me, the doctorate turned out to be a personal growth enterprise more than anything; it turned out to be a transformative experience, which surprised me. I came out feeling that I now had the ability to research anything I wanted to, a sort of independent autonomy that I had never expected to feel. It was a very tough process and I almost quit several times (due to department- and adviser-drama snarls, not due to my own research) – but I kept going. Now it feels lovely to have it behind me, but to still feel that huge sense of accomplishment. Hah!

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