I spent Friday and Saturday in the Michigan Silversmith Guild booth at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, where I drank lots of water in stifling hot and humidity and hoped to sell a bunch of my creations.
As with writing, I do a fairly decent job of making jewelry, but I’m not such the hot commodity that I can quit my day job. If only…
It’s hard to compete at the art fair. It’s the self-proclaimed largest one in the country, and that means creativity is oozing from every pore of every human being within five miles of the A-Squared. Plus, each Guild member is a great talent, and there are twelve of us sharing a booth. I have no idea yet how I did, as I haven’t picked my inventory up. Hopefully, it’s enough to cover the booth rent.
While my jewelry is cool, it’s also rather eclectic. Steam-punk-y. Left of center. Big! With lots of rocks and stones, and lots of twisted wire. It takes a certain type of person to wear one of my creations; my art is not meant for mass consumption, which is why I don’t mind that I’m not deluged with fans. I like the slow and easy pace of creating. I’m lazy! Well…lackadaisical. Art of any kind for me is about the journey, not about the cha-ching at the end of the road.
Which is why I price my stuff reasonably. I love the creative process, but I don’t ever want to see my work again. Let someone else love it.
At the end of the final day, a couple of older ladies stepped up to the booth. One was enamored of this:
(It’s copper, with pyrite, agate, citrine, and peridot. And I made the chain and clasp.)
The other lady preferred my silver creations. It was late, nearly the end of the fair, but I pulled out piece after piece (after piece – I sometimes forget how many pieces I have!) and they both ooh-ed and ahh-ed.
The one woman, however, kept coming back to the copper pendant. She really loved it.
She asked me for a discount. I gave her a little bit of one, but she hesitated. She was a little older and lived on a fixed income, but her friend was encouraging. She eyed the piece, fingered it, kept bringing it to her neck and back again, looked at herself in the mirror. I explained the hours of work I’d invested in the piece, that making the chain itself was a pain in the behind, that the peridot alone was worth a lot of money. She said she understood.
They both spoke of losing family members in the last year. These were new friends, their bond made while in group grief counseling. Shopping the art fair wasn’t just retail therapy, it was a search for some sort of beauty in a tumultuous life, a life that wasn’t always fair.
Again they came back to the copper pendant. Lady’s Friend said, “You should get this. The way it’s designed, it really speaks to you.”
Lady: “Yes. It’s just like my life.”
What could I do? I discounted it more, and she walked away happy.
I’m happy too. Happy that she’s happy.
You might ask why I’m writing about this, when this blog is all about the writing experience from my perspective. Basically it’s this: sometimes writing, like art, isn’t about making money. Oh sure, money is nice, it’s real nice, especially if you have bills to pay.
A writer can get frustrated with creating, with the editing process, with querying, with rejection. You might want to skip over the journey to get to the pot of gold. If you feel that way, DON’T DO IT. It’s not about the money, and if it is for you, you’re in the wrong line of work. Sometimes you have to give joy to get joy.
Spread that mantra around to the rest of your life, and you’ll find contentment.