Don’t get me wrong. I feel lucky to be able to paint and write for a living. It is only possible because people buy my books, paintings and prints.
When I was a child I was told that I couldn’t be an artist. It was what I wanted to be, when people asked me the ‘when you grow up’ question ( only after I had worked out that I couldn’t be a bear).
Until I was 27 years of age I did a part time job to fun my passion, until I could make enough of an income to quit washing up 4 nights a week in a restaurant and just paint.
For the most part I work seven days a week, partly because I do love to paint and write. I learned, eventually that I would have to travel to bookshops in order to promote my books, make them more visible, at my own expense as there was never any ‘budget’ for this from the publishers. As my children were older this became possible. As a single parent it was difficult. No childcare, parents far away, so no family support, I worked around my children. Even so, I can’t remember a family holiday we took together. There wasn’t the money, there wasn’t the time.
I have been lucky and thanks to people like you, who bought my books I was able to buy a house, and pay the mortgage. But, as a self employed person when my marriage broke down and I with it and I couldn’t work for a year there was no sick pay, etc. I managed. I can’t remember how, but I do remember very good friends buying paintings from me. They were hard times, but my children don’t remember us being poor. When I won the Tir Na Nog it paid my mortgage, phone bill, bought shoes for my children.
Recent times have been better. I have had the odd royalty cheque. PLR payments are always so welcome, coming as they do just after Christmas and more than once they have paid off my overdraft.
So, now I need to get back to work as I have a contract to fulfil and a book to finish. I am still working 7 days a week in order to do this.
And this is why I find this article offensive. Because it bolsters the myth that only those with a ‘certain background’ can be authors/illustrators. Not people like me. And to be honest, it makes me really rather cross. So, well done them for giving money to charity in such a public fashion. All the words I want to write now are rather offensive to some, so I will go, and paint, and continue to earn my living.
And if it is your dream to write and paint, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not your place to do so and know that we are trying to make the industry a fairer place for those who come after us.
Thank you for listening.