Friday, 22 November 2019

Writing – The Lonely Art

Solo Exhibition Chichester 2001

Before I started writing I was an artist –a painter to be more precise. I did my degree and went on to be a professional artist, I had solo exhibitions, I still have work display as part of The Mag Collection in The Ferne Gallery in Hull, and I had a photograph printed on the front cover of a national Photographic Magazine. Then when my children were small, I changed my focus to writing.

Writing is a creative process, an art form that conforms to the same artistic format of other artist disciplines; it takes years of honing your craft, it’s often misunderstood, and in most cases you need to diversify in order to pay the bills. But there is one large difference between writing and all the other art disciplines. That is that you cannot easily display or share your work in a way that is easy for people to consume.
it's easy to see how hard your working when it ALL OVER THE HOUSE

If you’re a visual artist; painter, photographer, potter, sculpture or illustrator, you can run an exhibition to display your work, or have an easy to leaf through portfolio or web-site or Instagram page. People can quickly and easily consume your work, they can appreciate your skill, your improvement, or see the hours of work that has gone into your creations. Even if the viewer isn’t an artist themselves, they can see and appreciate how hard you work.

The photocopy of a write up of my solo exhibition in the Sussex painter

If you’re a performer; a singer, dancer, musician or actor, people can go to concerts, and shows they can see your performance, immerse themselves in it and appreciate your skill and hard work. 

If you’re poet, you can do readings of your work, as poems tend to be shorted and more suited to readings to an audience.

My Brother and sister In-laws in a resent concert

But what if you write novels, or picture books? You can't easily put on an exhibition of a hundreds of pages of printed manuscript. You can't do a reading of your whole book. It isn’t an art which is easy to display or perform and therefore be easily consumed and appreciated by your friends and family. If you are pre-published it is unlikely a non-writery family member or friend is going to offer their precious time - hours – to read your WIP.

An old portfolio

In fact in my experience non-writery family and friends, no matter how much they want to – they can’t see or even comprehend the hours of research, writing and editing goes into a project. Often they think that all the hours you are sat at your PC is actually spend on social media -  not working. The problem is they can’t see it – or experience it – so it’s abstract.

It is something I think a lot about. Is there a way I can help my family and friends who I know want to support and understand my writing to see or experience what I do, in a way that is as accessible as viewing an exhibition, or listening to piece or music, or watching a play or dance performance?

As of yet I can’t think of anything. So if you have any ideas, please let me know!


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful musings. It is indeed a lonely art. When I was still unpublished I experimented with using a blog to display bits of my fiction. But it was really a distraction from my actual project (which was to write the darn book!). Writing isn't performative and our reward only comes at the conclusion of a long period of work. And even then there is then the long process of getting picked - by agents or editors. Definitely not for the faint hearted or for artists who need instant approval! That's why we writers have to support one another!

    1. Thanks Candy, you are right, writer friends really are any writer invaluable support system. I'm so lucky with my local group Green Penn, SCBWI and GE!