Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Asking Friends for Help With Artistic Projects

Howdy folks.

This is kind of a more introspective piece, and its brought about by the most pleasant of circumstances; I published my novel with the help of some really awesome friends and family. That kind of support is really never-ending, but it can get very hard to keep asking the same people to do the same kind of favors for you.

The Initiation of an Awkward Conversation

First of all, I feel really guilty asking my friends to shill for me. "Hey," I'll start a conversation off. "How are things?" Polite small-talk because I have an agenda on my mind, and while the friends' events are important to me, this is my life. Okay, so its probably not my life, but its certainly a request that's coming and, quite possibly, that friend is already aware.

"So, have you heard about..." is one ice-breaker, along with the, "I actually just started..." line. This is the transition. Its when I get into asking my pal the actual favor. The favor that is very possibly the reason I bothered contacting them, at all.

They usually respond with enthusiasm, but they don't necessarily go, "how can I help?" Many times they say its cool and interesting (it probably is!), but they have their own lives. Again, this is my life that I'm asking help with, so its hard for me to understand, sometimes, why they aren't thrilled.

Then, most likely, I have to come out and say it. "Could you do me a favor, actually?" I ask. At this point, the natural response is to say they can. Then I make my request.

Requesting Aid from Friends

Lets remember something - this isn't the Golden Age, and we don't even live in average economic times; its the second great depression, to some, and a "bad recession" to others. Face it, most people don't have money - especially not those who are young and struggling to get by. Most of the time, my requests are just that my friends spread the word of what I'm up to around.

"Hit the reshare button on Facebook," I'll ask. "Like it!" "Put it on Reddit or Fark!" "Retweet this for me?" Or, sometimes, I'll even go with one I need the most, lately; "Fill out a review of my latest book," "the book's preview," or whatever. And many times, after much haranguing, it'll get done.

But there's always this feeling of guilt whenever I put out a plea, because I'm asking my friends to give me special help that they might not give someone else. What's worse? This sort of thing can strain friendships.

When Art Harms your Friendships

Long and short, I know my friends generally have my back. I know that in a perfect world, my friends - and the many fans I've made with my many writing projects - would support me if I asked. However, this world isn't perfect. These friends have a life all their own, and constantly nagging them to help me out? Yeah, it can get annoying.

Then there's my side: I'm a struggling artist. I work a low-salaried full time job for the benefits, and a few part time jobs; I coach swimming, I teach swim lessons, I lifeguard, I write for contracts when I can get them, and I write blogs/articles. Any given day, I might "work" only 8 hours...But then these part-time gigs kick in and I'm throwing down 10+ hours/day, even on weekends. Why does this matter?

Because sometimes, despite knowing that my friends and fans care, its hard to feel it. Maybe its that I have psychological issues underscoring the situation, or maybe its just that it seems so important to me to get this help, but when I don't see the response I hope for (which is always more than reality offers), I can sometimes get upset. I sometimes wonder why I help my friends out when they ask, then get nothing in return. It makes me bitter.

And what's more? Its a false perception. My friends and fans help; but they're human, too. They can only do so much for me, and its very hard to understand how some people feel about their passions.

Well, hopefully now I've shared a bit, and hopefully now some help can find its way to me.

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