The saying goes ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ and it couldn’t be more true – when you are an artist or a writer and you don’t get your book further out than your immediate area you will hit a very, very large wall of indifference. It isn’t that people don’t like you, and not that they don’t like your work but that they have seen both, even the new stuff, so often and so many times that at a point they are bored with you. You are backdrop. And heck, they can see/buy your work any old time, right, because they have seen you a few times before.
This happens with friends and strangers alike, and it’s heartbreaking and it’s something I struggle with. For me, I have been writing for a looong time and doing shows for almost as long and I have been doing this long enough that I have run out of steam. There are only so many times you can query publishers, do art shows, and hype up new work to little interest where you just get burned out. And for me, someone who had ten years between books, I feel like I have wasted enough time and don’t want to waste it anymore. Alas, in haste to produce I didn’t realize that I was becoming furniture. And I see this all the time at conventions when they get the same guests year after year after year, and with artists who do the same shows over and over again. And it isn’t you, per se, it’s that people get bored of seeing the same or similar work all the time.
Just how people are.
Heck, I am still coming to terms with the general indifference I have faced from many after publishing my first, and odds are last, novel. To me it’s a big deal but everyone else, it’s nothing. Part of that is that I have released five other books in the past three years, and part too is that in the era of social media, when EVERY event is OHMYGOD big it’s hard to really get people to react to some things. It seems like someone is ALWAYS getting married, or engaged, or having kids, or breaking up, and it’s hard to really make people care. We’ve just become a very self involved culture. Not having to help your neighbors build a barn, or fight off invaders, or grow food, or having to do a hundred other things that we used to have to do has made us lose touch with each other. (which, parenthetically, has also made a lot of us utter cads out in public but that’s for other blogs to examine).
Familiarity breeds contempt.
You have to pace yourself and your work.
You have to time your releases and shows so that you give people space and room to breathe.
You have to make sure you do shows out of your immediate area so you can give yourself a chance to reach a new audience.
And you must be patient, with yourself and those around you because it isn’t you that they are bored with but with the familiarity of everything these days, and that’s what breeds the contempt.