I had this perfect fantasy (don't we all?) of how it will happen for me.
And then there is now.
The art shop was not supposed to open until everything has been prepared for, planned for, perfected. I imagined perfect product shots, and a perfect selling system in place, and a perfect promotion campaign that begins with a most inspiring creative exhibit attended by friends and fellow creativity enthusiasts. I also imagined a perfectly smooth shift of business registration from my old dayjob to my dreamjob. I imagined a lump sum of capital to invest in making all the perfection manifest. Nothing big. Just enough to pay for venues, and frames, and registration fees, and of course art materials so I can keep on making, making, making. I imagined grand themes and grand stories threading through a series of collections. I imagined maybe a dozen printed copies of my first self-published book of illustrated poetry.
The art shop is open now. On an impromptu trial run. I tore down all that I had imagined and instead rebuilt something practical and immediate. Something that could stand and walk and run now. Something that will start putting me out there and bringing me back bits to live on, to keep this life alive. The reality is that there is never enough money. Not when you are a breadwinner. And no, I don't have a family of my own. I am supporting my senior-aged parents and a struggling sister. It is fortunate that having a family of my own has never been a priority for me. I like being an artist too much. Two households would have killed me in more ways than one. (Unless perhaps I married a billionaire. But anyway...)
So. The imagination was not to become a reality. I opened the shop. Almost furtively and guiltily at first. Like I was betraying a version of myself somehow. I started selling a few pieces here and there. I was mostly disappointed by many people. And I was also surprised and heart-warmed by many other people. I pushed myself into a "production" mode, to gain some traction, to coax something out of what seems like nothing. I was scared. I was thrilled. I made mistakes. Lots of mistakes. I earned money. I lost money. I learned my lessons. I worked so hard and believed so fiercely that sometimes I caught myself trembling from the overdose of hope.
Today I posted some of the pieces that I have been reserving for that dreamed-of personal exhibit (that would have been set up in one of the cafes in the neighbourhood). Last night I hurt my head working through the pricing scheme so I don't undercharge. Of course I am starting on the low range. When things start getting better I can increase my rates. For now I can only cross my fingers that anyone would even decide to spend money on what I made.
I am not putting myself down. I know I did good work. I'm thinking about the depth of resonance. A lot of people like my work in social media but do they like it enough to buy? There is too much of the intangible in what I am offering. Not everyone likes to go exploring in that part of the forest.
Suddenly there is a shop. And there is a mind-boggling number of tasks that need to be done behind the scenes. And now I am juggling those along with the making. And above me hovers the thunderclouds of uncertainty.
This is not how I imagined it would be. I was imagining it later. Unfolding with proper cues and timely turns. Graceful entrances. Not now. Yet it looks like now IS the time. And I should heed the signs and the call and do no less than what I have been imagining I would do to make it all real. This foolish dream. This forging of something new. This too-late bloom. This too-soon awkward stumble.