One of the few things that Katie brought with her from the United States is a small Georgia O’Keeffe print. She bought it on a trip to the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe, and it now hangs in our living room. It is not a painting of a giant flower. For me, it’s come to symbolize the creative needs of the creator, and the need to refuse to be typecast by your audience. Allow me to explain.
On that trip (as Katie tells it, I was not there), another woman was loudly complaining. There were, in her assessment, not enough Georgia O’Keeffe paintings in the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. The fact is that all of the work displayed there is hers. It covers her entire career. What the woman meant was that it wasn’t all flower paintings, because that’s what she’d come there to see.
This is the equivalent of going to see a band in concert, and complaining that they’re playing deep cuts and stuff off of their new album. They want a set list that’s just a rundown of the greatest hits collection. To which I say, ugh.
Recently I had an encounter with someone who was exasperated that I write and publish a variety of things. They expressed a wish that I’d focus on one thing, the thing that they personally like best, and stick with that. I get it. There have been times when I’ve been the woman in the O’Keeffe museum, or the casual-fan concertgoer.
Take a Deep Breath, Berin
I explained there are creative and economic realities to be considered. Let’s start with the financial side of things. I do not have a wildly popular hit. There is no one thing that brings in the bulk of my income. If there were, I might concentrate on that cash cow. The reality of this business, though, is that you need to diversify to earn a living. So I write many things for many tastes, which gives me a broad enough back catalog that I can survive on long-tail sales.
Even if I did have a runaway hit, though, I’d need to do other things. There would be a point where it would become forced, creatively bankrupt, and not fulfilling. Think of that TV series that went on too long. You know what I’m talking about. To keep things fresh, I need to be able to play with different ideas and express myself in different ways.
I have more ideas down this path. Stay tuned.
What Happens When You Refuse to Be Typecast
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