Let me start by saying that the act of creation, be it written, painted, danced, acted, sung, is enough. Study after study shows us this. Art heals. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about that naïve belief that the sheer wonderfulness of your creation is enough to get you an audience, readers, listeners, etc. It’s not. Trust me. It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn over and over.
Flash back twenty-some odd years ago: I’m 28 years old, can barely make my rent, but do I care? Not one whit. I’m living on whims and wishes; I am, eating, breathing, and drinking theater. Currently, I’m co-producing and directing an original musical written by none other than me, lyrics written by a wild woman named Zahada. I’ve talked a fledgling local band, Pele Juju, (Yup, this is before they became a Santa Cruz sensation) into writing the musical score; talked some other friends into crafting fantastical costumes including some cool latex fish masks; went to work building a gorgeous, nautically inspired, café set out of cardboard and two by fours; got a bunch of my talented pals to commit to the eight-week rehearsal schedule, and six performances, rented a theater for two weekends. The show is called “Big Fish Eat Little Fish” and it features the work of some of Santa Cruz’s luminaries: Patti Maxine, Pipa Piñon, Val Leoffler, Paul Layton, Brindle, Christie Hawley, Kim Wehinger, Lynn Mitschke, Molly Higbie, Marilyn Marzell of the dance company Mamalution. The show is a sight to behold, abstract and poignant; the performers shine bright as they dance and sing: “Who’s the big fish? Who’s the little fish?” The scenes pop and are visually pleasing, the acting done with depth and humor.
Too bad there were so few people there to see it.
Why? Because in all of our preparation, we’d neglected to do one of the most important things: publicize. At the end of the run, we’d sold so few tickets I wound up owing the venue a whopping eight hundred bucks, which might as well have been a million to me back then.
It couldn’t have been a harder way to learn the lesson, but learn it I did. Or so I thought.
The year is 2009. I’m about to have my first novel, “The Middle of Somewhere” published. It’s not that I expect it to fly off the shelves (I’m not that naïve), but I have no idea the work it takes to get a book noticed. My publisher, Bold Strokes Books, does their share of promoting, but let’s face it, I’m one in over 200 authors they represent. They can only do so much. The learning curve is intense. I have no idea how to market beyond my local arena. Facebook, twitter, blogs… what are these things?
Well, I’m still learning. And the truth is, sometimes I just want to say, “Hell, I wrote it. That’s enough.” But honestly, for me, it’s not. My interface with you, reader, watcher, listener, delights me no end. So thank you for being on the other end of my efforts. It means the world to me.