Every once in a while people ask me where I am exhibiting my paintings. It is at such moments that I see with heightened clarity what a strange person I am, because my reaction to that question shows me how completely unimportant the fate of my creations is to me.
Truth is that I never really exhibited my works in a proper gallery, and for some reason it doesn't matter to me. I think I am producing art more or less the way an apple tree produces apples. Both the tree and I just do what we are programmed to do. Whether someone harvests our 'fruits' and enjoys them or whether they fall to the ground and go to waste, is of absolutely no consequence to us.
My entire focus is on doing my best. As things grow and ripen on my 'branches', I am downright obsessed with making them as beautiful as possible. I am somewhat of a perfectionist, and while my work is still attached to me and unfolding, I want it to be absolutely perfect. But once I decide that it is finished, I couldn't care less what happens to it next.
Don't get me wrong, I am a shrewd businessman and if someone wants to buy one of my painting, he or she will have to pay a hefty price for it. I also enjoy very much if someone compliments me on my work. I certainly feel a great sense of satisfaction when people are moved by it. But I do not crave accolade enough to invest any time or effort in becoming more visible to the public. Sure, it is possible that greater exposure might get me to a place where I did no longer depend on my day job to make a living, but then again I do not mind at all paying my bills through ordinary work.
I seem to have the same attitude when it comes to writing. Of course I would love to be a published author, but that's not what drives me to write my novel. There's just something within me that needs to come out and be written down on paper, but what happens to it afterwards is not really all that important to me. I am out there on twitter and facebook, surrounding myself with other writers and artists because I feel good in their company. Their company inspires me, and if I never receive anything more than their encouraging words and kind recognition, I will still be perfectly fine.
So there you have it. My paintings decorate mostly my own home (or are tucked away behind some cabinet), and my first novel still sits on a shelf in my studio because I have not taken any steps toward publication yet (and am also planning to do some final editing). And Tehtena, Queen Makeda's Sister, is patiently whispering her story into my ear while I worry very little about whether it will one day be read by a large audience or not. A friend or two, I am confident, will find the time to read it, and that would suffice for me.
Strange, isn't it? :-)