WDTWFM #1: “Real Artists Have Dayjobs” by Sara Benincasa

I am starting a new series (well, I hope it’ll become one eventually) where I look at a thing I enjoyed and, more importantly, WHY I think enjoyed it. I hope that’ll help me to figure out what I am actually looking for with my entertainment – and how to make my own creations better.

I swear the bookstore in Waterloo Station is in cahoots with South West Trains. Half of their revenue probably comes from people bored out of their mind because the trains, once again, run late.

That’s exactly how I ended up with “Real Artists Have Dayjobs”  by Sara Benincasa during Southwest’s latest “no train service for two hours nyahahaha” outage. It had a cute cover and I was stressed and thus in the mood for some potentially helpful fluff.

And while I’d prefer more punctual trains, I don’t regret purchasing that book at all.  I genuinely enjoyed my time spent with this paper back.

So, what is “Real Artists Have Dayjobs”?

A cheap-ish self-help paperback, of all things.

It contains of 52 essays, some long, some short, all with a rather funky chapter-title type-setting. And it has far less to do with artists and dayjobs than the title suggests – only the essay the book’s named after dealt with this particular issue. Instead the author spends more time talking about her mental health struggle and how to adult when life’s hounding you, which is far more entertaining than it sounds.

Is it good?

Eeeh… Yes. Not great, but good. It’s definitely entertaining, though.

Some of the essays had me nodding along, others roll my eyes, but all in all reading the book was time well spent. It didn’t contain any new, ground breaking things, but few self-help books do. Humans had to deal with being humans for thousands of years now.

Why did this book work for me?

  1. Voice.
    This book is really funny and personable. I mean, it better be, consider it is written by a comedian, but I find many, many comedians just plain boring. This book however managed the rare feat of making me laugh on the train.
    I do not know yet what exactly I liked this author’s voice so much, beyond the fact that it felt earnest instead of patronizing. It was fascinating enough I looked for her blog – but unfortunately she isn’t blogging currently.
  2. Affirmation
    It was good to read about someone relatively successful despite not having all her shit together. It helped to read about someone struggling, succeeding – and backsliding into struggle again, because, you know, that happens to me, too. It helped to see someone’s coping strategies detailed, even though they definitely wouldn’t work as mine.
  3. Quick, Easy Read
    The fact that this book wasn’t particularly deep actually helped my enjoyment, since I started reading it after a quite stressful day at work. Thanks to the essay-structure it hit the sweet spot of being interesting enough to keep my attention, but not too challenging for my work-fried brain.

Would you like it?

Maybe.

This book is not for you if you don’t like reading about other people’s struggles, be they petty or life-destroyingly huge. You will hate it if you don’t like the author’s voice.

But if you like reading about people finding the funny bits in their dark and hard stuff, and share that authors sense of humour, you might love it.

Audience reaction seems to be split, some love it, some hate it. But I think it’s definitely worth to checking it out to see if it might be for you. You can pick it up on Amazon, and the Kindle edition is at the time of writing this less than £2.

April 2017 in Review

Well, this April had some serious ups and downs. Since I am clampering out of the down right now, I am not very happy with it. But objectively seen, it was a decent month with some very great weeks. I’ll feel better about it with a bit of distance.

Art

Four new sketches and five republished images  – Roughly the same as last month.

I do worry that I am running out of things to re-run soon. The trick to Instagram seems to be a combination of posting frequency with the right hashtags, at least in my case. Posting quality does not seem to matter much, although I know artists notoriously bad at assessing their own work.  So make more, publish more, see what sticks.

Well, maybe that’s the trick to build an audience in general, I know all my favourite artists and authors are the highly productive ones. I tend to forget those who are better but only put out stuff once in a while.

Writing

I actually posted a non-review blog post, so this new blog thing is working out! Still need a decent skin for it, though.

Wordcount: 66.376 – only roughly 4k more than last month.

Time I spent writing: 9:08h

Time I spent editing: 3:31h

I reached the end of my free writing on Nyx and Nyssa; I’ve seen the whole arc of the story and so I started editing it. Story-brain got impatient with it, and now I know enough about the characters that I can bring, you know, character to them.

But maybe editing is not the right word? I’m turning Draft Zero into Draft One; I sort through that word vomit to sort out what’s usable, what’s not and adding character telling moments and story meat here and there.

Draft Zero isn’t a story yet, I am making it one now.

Health & Happiness

Much of this month has been taken up by visiting my family over Easter and oh, I loved it. Hadn’t had so much fun and joy in ages.

I crashed hard afterwards, though. Staying in a different place with different habits always messes with my habits, and I need my habits to stay mentally healthy. So I started binging again, both on food and on video games – Rimworld’s good, but that’s not the main reason I play it all the damn time. Nope, that’s my brain being off-kilter.

On the upside: I started running again, redoing my trainings program from the beginning. It works; I need my runs.  I expect things to get better soon.