Anthem Salgado’s got another good post over at artofhustle.com. He’s talking about asking, and how artists need to be better at this. My response to him is that I have come to know not to take anything for granted — publication, honorarium, transportation costs, handling book sales, etc. So yes, it’s better to ask than to be disappointed that something you’d hoped for did not materialize.
Another thing he and I are talking about (in the comments section) is the possibility of a “no,” which may tend to stop artists before they even ask. Anyway, “no” happens and that’s a fact. But yes happens also. I think a “no,” is a good opportunity to learn to negotiate a conditional yes, or to revisit, reword, tweak the spiel. And to revisit the work, revisit whom you’re asking. Isn’t that what a rejection letter is, a “no,” that gives us the opportunity to rethink whether we’re sending our work to fitting venues, or whether the work needs revising or editing before being sent out again.
An example of rewording the spiel, as per Rashaan Alexis Meneses’s recent post on the Mills College Pitch Fest she recently attended: One of the speakers has advocated for humility. How do you go about effectively self-promoting and still maintaining your humility. From Rashaan’s blog:
[Joe Christiano] urges that writers be humble about their work. A lot of times, novelists will come into the store with a sense of entitlement, asking “why aren’t you carrying my book?” or “my book has just come out, can I do a reading here?” Writers would be wise to ask instead, “do you have a place for this?”
Another thing I’d add here is the gift economy among artists. The fact is that so many artists work in many capacities as curators, editors, reviewers, educators. Asking is good, so be brave and smart and do so. In terms of smart, here’s one suggestion when asking (multi-tasking) artists for something: offer something concrete in exchange (your gratitude should be a given, and guilting artists with talk of solidarity isn’t cool; how about a book review). I do not believe in something for nothing. I do not believe that’s good practice.
I am also writing this, publicly acknowledging my current limitations. I am co-organizing two API Heritage Month literary events in May, coming up on a number of Diwata speaking events in April (including travel to El Paso). I also have made writing commitments (fast and furious book reviewing) for National Poetry Month (also April), and that’s all I can handle. Oh, and Oscar and I are co-curating Doveglion. We’ve got at least four poetics/process essays/manifestos planned for April/May, and another bunch on the horizon.
Just some things on my mind and my plate. Kind of can’t do much more.