An Accidental Artist


An Accidental Artist

If I had my way, I’d be a writer. Not to say that being a lawyer is bad (in fact, I quite enjoy it), it’s just I’m a masochist.

I’ve tried to get published on many occasions, having written my first novel when I was nineteen and my latest between 2010 and 2017. It was this latter book that got me the most positive response I ever received from someone in the industry, when I was told it was written well enough to be published but, because of the depressing subject matter, it wouldn’t sell.

Having seemingly come to an end in pursuit of publishing depressing stories, I decided to shift to writing a series of humorous shorts. This time I would take no chances. I would create an Amazon account and publish it myself. Of course, I didn’t know anything about self-publishing, but how hard could it be?

Not hard at all, if you had the money and the want to spend that money on a nice cover.

Yes, I had forgotten the golden rule of publishing: it’s not how good the stories are, it’s how eye catching the cover is. So where does one get a nice eye-catching cover? I had no idea, so I spoke to a friend of mine who had published a number of books herself.

That was easy, she told me, there were many available sources as long as you were willing to pay... a lot. Many times more that you would earn back.

While it was true that I didn’t start writing to make money, I also didn’t start writing to lose money either. I had always thought of it as a break-even proposition.

So, having to decide between paying for my daughter’s dance lessons or paying for a nice cover for my collection of short stories, I chose the dance lessons and decided to make the cover myself.

I would paint something. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for the world of art as a whole, I had taken up painting, mainly because my son showed interest in it and I wanted to share his hobby. He soon lost interest, but I continued.

So I created what I thought was a nice cover by taking a picture of some artwork, downloading it to my computer and then using a software program to add in the title. I published it on Amazon for a $1.99.

A few people read it, and I did get one review (5 stars, yay!) by someone I didn’t know. I took that as a sign that I had accomplished... something and promptly removed the book from sale.

All in all, it had been on Amazon for about half the time it took to write. Once it was taken down, I decided I would try to get the stories published individually. What I didn’t know (amongst the many things I didn’t know) was that once a story is published, even self-published, there were very few places that would consider it. I did find one magazine that was willing to take a look, but after they hummed and hawed over one of the stories for about three months, they told me they had enough already to fill their magazine. They asked me to submit more, for future magazines.

That is where my writing seems to be right now: submitting stories, getting rejected but being told I should keep submitting. Strangely enough, however, my paintings have become far more popular than my stories ever have. I have now sold a number of paintings and even have created works upon people’s requests. I still think of myself as a pretty terrible artist but I’m enjoying the ego boost.