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  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

68: Prioritizing

face in hot pink bonnet next to two sets of hands behind book wrapped in barbed wire with four feet in front of it with austin is the distant background
Recent Mockup for a future painting

Howdy! When I worked a standard 9-5, I always knew what I had to do, where I needed to be. My schedule was laid out and I followed it. Being my own boss is a bit more challenging. Rewarding? Yeah. I'm literally living my dream, painting and writing full time, and that's an incredible privilege. The pressure is self directed, but I need to be worth of that opportunity because there are better writers, better painters, better people who do not have the chance to pursue their passions full time.

I've been frank here about how maintaining active social media profiles, while necessary for promoting my art and writing, is ultimately a distraction from creating. Now, with Nanowrimo around the corner, I have to figure out which writing project to start, when I really want to be revising As A Mother (working title), and I still need to be producing art. Last week, I sold art at a small festival and found that my smaller cheaper pieces sell significantly better than my larger expensive pieces. While that's not a surprise, I can only show my larger expensive pieces in the gallery I regularly submit to. I was also hoping to make gifts for loved ones this year, paintings for their homes. I wouldn't be able to show those paintings in the gallery though, as I couldn't possibly sell them, and like, there is no time for all of these projects. Which makes it especially frustrating when I have to waste however long ~creating content~ for social media.

Most of my recent TikToks have simply been timelapse videos of me painting or collaging. But there are tasks that need doing that just aren't worth viewing. I spent an entire day prepping canvases, for instance—painting a medium value background color, painting the edges black, and gridding their fronts, which just is not content worth sharing. Meaning that on top of that, I then had to find a soundbite and fit it to footage of my dogs moving their mouths for comedic effect because I had to post ~something~ on TikTok. It's tiring. My Google Drive backlog of jokes and shower thoughts provides a tweet or two a day, which is fine. Instagram feels like dead space since all the commentors are bots and most of my feed is ads, but I post art there whenever it's finished which isn't often enough. Posting daily stories there, of timelapse videos, actually lost me followers, which shouldn't matter, but I have to share those numbers whenever I'm querying or submitting a book.

I took a month off from writing, originally to get space from a draft that wasn't working out, which turned into me focusing on my art so that I could have more smaller pieces ready for that little festival. Now though, I need to outline a new story, and break it down into scenes, so I can follow a timeline and not suffer from indecision once Nano starts.

And I just watched Velvet Buzzsaw (which was a good horror film. I recommend it.) and the message I left with was that commodifying my art is stifling my creativity. Which is sort of true? I stopped painting dolls because they weren't selling. But only sort of, because I've always been drawn to collage and physical collaging is much more intuitive than digital. I enjoy the process of collaging, and yes, I did originally plan to include more dolls in these magazine-scrap-collage based paintings, but unfortunately, there aren't easily accessibly free catalogues of antique dolls so that simply didn't work out. More importantly, of course there is a relationship between what sells and what I create because how am I suppose to justify my fulltime creative career if I'm not profiting from it? If the art is piling up at home rather than being seen, loved, and adopted into other homes? Art for art's sake is great in concept, but the reality is that my time and efforts have to translate to a monetary value. Our society is capitalist. Housing and healthcare, while they should ideally be acknowledged as human rights, aren't. My efforts have to contribute to my household, especially with everything becoming more expensive thanks to unregulated corporate greed.

So I need to put my art, which I can sell for money, before my writing, which so far, has not translated to any income at all. Which isn't to say I won't be participating in Nano, but does mean Nano must come second to painting. As for whether I should focus on big or small pieces, I need to balance both. Which sounds hard but comes down to time management which I just need to be better at. And social media comes tertiary to everything else. I'm not going to stop posting, but I think a few times a week is acceptable for TikTok, entering November. One post every other day is fine for Twitter. I'll keep posting art to Facebook and Instagram, but more because those are the most accessible spaces to maintain and share my portfolio, than because I'm trying to gain any new followers. The goal is to participate in December's local art fair too (since I'll be out of town for the November one and that should be a packed event, with folks buying gifts). We'll see. I'm trying to submit art every time my go-to gallery announces an open call but sometimes I miss the announcements, since they post them on Instagram and I'm really only on Instagram on the days when I'm posting my own art, or from their website which I really need to get into the habit of checking more often. They used to email calls for art, but maybe that was just while we were all locked down at home.

Anyway, that's where I'm at right now. Art first, with big and small pieces mattering equally, then writing, then promotion. That's how I'm prioritizing for the foreseeable future. Maybe this is relatable? I don't know. I feel like lots of creatives have been voicing their desire to drop off social media the second they make it big. Readers are demanding writers leave their spaces so they can review in peace and writers have announced, in turn, that they'd love to, as soon as they're successful enough. I'm barely seeing the people I follow on Instagram, thanks to ads, and the majority of those interacting with my posts, are bots. I've met some really kind, cool people online and I'm glad for having done so, but I'm tired and social media feels like a chore. Not to mention how draining it is to learn about every fresh injustice when I'm powerless to help. I plan to be more of a log in-drop content-log off kind of social media user for a while. Who knows, maybe I can get my time management in order if I just step away from the internet. If nothing else, I'm sure I'll read more. I have missed reading.

Multitasking is rough. Thanks for stopping by! I put out a new blog post every Monday. Toodles!

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