We are indistinguishable, my work and I. I live within the cocoon of my work. I believe that is as it should be. Yet there is a problem. With this blog, I have decided it’s time to confess. I am not successful. I am actually technically poor. Very poor. I return bottles and shop for groceries at the day-old section at the back of the store. I don’t buy books. I can’t afford them. I go to the library, but due to the price of gas and the deteriorating state of my seventeen year-old Volvo, I plan those trips carefully. I do not practice recreation or vacation. I consider the internet, electricity, and heat to be tools for living, but my television access is limited to two stations since I cannot afford cable or a dish, necessary for reception here in the woods. I have my driveway plowed only when there is more than four inches of snow, otherwise the Volvo bulls its way through. Usually. Poor, pitiful me. However did I (one smart Renaissance cookie) allow this to happen?
Ten years ago I was moderately successful. I had six-figures in savings and was frugally (as always) living off the interest. My car was in great shape and I had major-medical health insurance. When the grass grew under my feet, I mowed it down myself. I was constantly revamping my studio-home in the woods. I was investigating Manhattan galleries to show and sell my paintings and was checking out issues of Writers’ Market. Big plans, but I had confidence my work was good enough. I was ready for prime-time. Then my focus changed dramatically.
I discovered inside sturdy, vigorous me, a five-centimeter lump. In the world of breast cancer, as one doctor so crassly put it, “That’s huge.” I won’t bore you with the sordid details, but my road to the healthy status I now enjoy (and I do enjoy it) was long and bumpy. And expensive. I learned first-hand how quickly a substantial nest egg can crack. Not enough left for a decent omelet.
At the beginning of that year of surgery, chemotherapy, and all-round good fun, I vowed to create a piece of art every day. Not easy since I eventually lost all my fingernails down to the nail beds (very gross, very painful and very rare --- pitiful me) and painting as I had known it became a fumbling joke, so I switched to pastels and collage. Big collage. Colossal collage. It doesn’t get much bigger. I created a proposed fifty foot square gallery-sized installation “A Year In Oblivion” --- a series of fifty-two salvaged doors arranged in an inverse/obverse spiral maze. Three-hundred-sixty-five works of art as well as personal ephemera decorate these doors. Viewers are forced to examine this art at close proximity as they physically walk through a year in my life, illustrating the fact that once within the cancer spiral you forge ahead. You do not turn back. It’s not about losing your hair! It’s about saving your life. This project is in storage awaiting installation, travelling exhibitions, and oh, yes, funding. (I envision a black tie opening benefit.)
In addition to a non-funded artistic work of overwhelming proportions, I have written a novel. Haven’t we all, you roll your eyes and deplore. Ah, but mine is wonderful! Highway To Oblivion has something for everyone! (Note the branding.) You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll tap-dance on the table. Each page is lovingly edited, rewritten, and tweaked. I trot out small chunks for entertainment here at Red Room, but no one in the publishing biz has seen it. My surgeon gave it a glowing quote and he’s been on Martha Stewart. I sent out at least four queries, yet alas, no agent. So in addition to the aforementioned art work, I have a novel ready for fame, fortune, and big bucks. (For the movie, I see Sandra Bullock, Morgan Freeman.)
Unfortunately, my networking skills are pathetic. Time was I could work a room with the best of ‘em, but now? Er, ah, well… I could use an agent to get an agent to locate an agent to find the guy with the map.
What I really, really need is a reincarnated Medici, a wealthy patron who heads a grant committee, has a spouse who’s an agent, and a relative who runs a Volvo dealership on the side.
Causes Mara Buck Supports
Kennebec Valley Humane Society, Amnesty International