I just received returns from three different ATC swaps that were incredibly mediocre. Paper cut outs pasted to cereal box cardboard from two participants. Notice I didn't say "artists." I figure someone has to earn that moniker, and I'm somewhat sparing in my use of the term.
Between the disappointing swap returns and my STILL dented feelings about the rejection by a juried site, and the increased perception that once aGAIN, success everywhere is all in the stinking politics, well I'm pissy and bummed and ready to walk away from art again. Lots of strong emotions to sort through. I just don't know, she said, lips tight as she shook her head slowly from side to side.
Once again I find myself in a situation where it's who you know, not what you know, and I'm really unhappy about that same old in-crowd b.s. I have struggled against conformity all my life, like a fish on a line, sometimes the struggle taking the form of trying to fit IN. See, it's not so much that I mind Sam Rayburn's famous advice "you gotta go along to get along" as it is the false mask I have to wear in the game. I call it "the cute shoes" game. You know the scene. Two women meet, both all a-twitter, and one shrieks "Oh what cute SHOES!" It took me forever to find women I could be real with, and we never connected over fashion, kids, or all those other things that seem to consume so many women. Kids are fine, they just don't define ME. Fashion's the same way. But I've drifted down a rat-hole here.
I've simply never been worth a damn at anything requiring a popularity contest. I'd rather drink hemlock.
Earlier today I changed a decision I made when rejected all those weeks ago, which was to never subject my fragile ego to a bunch of faceless, nameless, VOICEless (except for their collective yea or nay) people whose work is generally not better than mine. I decided to chance the ego hit again, to put my best work out there...and I have improved considerably since the last try, and see whether I was good enough yet. I enlisted Peter's eagle eye for quality in things artistic, asking him to be ruthless with his opinion of what should stay and what should go. I went to the juried site and reread their requirements for membership, then made a point of carefully adhering to each point of order. And somewhere in the middle of all this cold-hearted (oh, it was, believe me...slitted eyes and cold feckin' heart here) preparation, I realised that it wasn't that I wanted to be a member there so I could trade art with those people. No. What was important, I suddenly, starkly realised, was that I made the cut. I don't give a damn about the art, it's the membership I've been so attached to.
And with that realisation, I could clearly see what a tiny little pond that group was, how relatively unimportant the site and people are, and I discovered I could let go of my attachment to the outcome. I no longer care about membership with that site. My work is good. Sure, some of it's mediocre, but all in all it's pretty good. And I'm satisfied with that. Would I still like that badge of acceptance from my peers? Oh sure, but if I don't get it, maybe they're NOT the Tribe I was looking for....for which I'm still looking. I can hear Bono in the distance, singing "....and I still haven't found what I was looking for..."