About a month ago, maybe even longer, I was alerted to a faraway art competition that was looking for entries. Being the artist that I am and knowing how I love to send off my work, I carefully cut out and collected all of the information. I’ve wanted to do more shows overseas and this one, why this would be just the ticket. They were looking for work, I have some work, it was free (basically) to enter, so I thought, why not, right?
Then life got in the way.
I had other shows, other commitments. Lots of groups want some of my time. I have work and house things and laundry and all kinds of stuff. Little by little, the opportunity was slipping away from my grasp.
The postal deadline was today, January 31st. Knowing that the deadline was today, I sat down last night and started to work on my submission. That’s when I noticed it. As part of the submission process, they wanted actual prints. They wanted me to print and mail to them (physically mail to them) 10 glossy full color eight and a half by eleven images of my work, complete with artist’s resume, C.V. and all of that other “stuff” these type of places usually want. Oh, what to do? The horror of it all.
I was tired, very tired yesterday, and I had to order some supplies for some upcoming shows (I’m almost out of matte board) and, by the time I had gotten around to it, the opportunity had slipped right through my hands.
I’m telling you this because I might have gotten into the show had I sent them something. More than likely, I would have gotten rejected. Ah, no harm no foul, right? Except that now I’ll never know. I’ll never know if it was in the cards for me to get that ultra-fabulous show in points faraway, no, I won’t. I’ll never know if it was me this year, if it was supposed to be my turn. I won’t know because I didn’t even try. I missed the opportunity.
There are always tons of opportunities for artists. It’s hard, sometimes very hard, to keep up with such things. One could almost send one’s work out continually for months on end if, you know, if you were so-inclined. It’s very hard to keep up the pace sometimes, it really is. But there’s still something about opportunities lost. There’s still some nagging feeling that I’ll never know if I could have gotten into that show, if that was “the show for me!” or not, and I never will know not because my work wasn’t good enough but just simply because I could not get off my duff long enough to get it together to even enter the darned thing.
I’m sure, on some level, we really should not beat ourselves up if we miss deadlines or don’t get things done. It’s hard to do all that we do, I know, I’ve been there. For most of us, this really is a labor of love too, as there’s not really enough money in it to “make a quick killing and retire” (no, you should probably try something else for that.) This really isn’t a quick hit, it’s more like a long slow slog to get to where you want to go, and, frankly, it isn’t made any easier by missing deadlines and not getting work out the door.
I’ve got a lot of shows running now, I honestly do. But, today anyway, the one that bothers me is not the one’s coming up, no, I’m ready for those. It’s more like the one that got away that’s nagging at me. I wish I could have entered. I feel so like that line from, what movie was it, “On the Waterfront” maybe? “I could have been a contender!” Alas, I guess it was just not meant to be. There’s a lesson in here and, maybe someday, I’ll learn fully what it is. Until then, I’ll have to settle for just feeling like I can’t *quite* keep up the pace. And that sucks, believe me, it doesn’t feel all that great, no matter how many “little successes” I might have to make up for it. No matter how many, “yay! I have another show” messages I get or even how many rejections are slated to come my way, this one humble little show will nag at me, because I feel like I let myself down (in some way) and didn’t even get it together long enough to pull off an entry. It’s almost like feeling you’ve lost the race, not because you aren’t fast enough, no, more because you didn’t even find the starting line. It’s a horrible sinking nagging feeling, really it is. I hope you never experience it, and I have to admit I sure don’t like it very much at all.
It makes me wonder about all of the people out there who *never* send their work out at all. Maybe they are afraid of rejection or maybe they just can’t get it together to enter shows or send their work off. I don’t know what causes artists to miss things sometimes, but it’s a shame really. So many opportunities, such a competitive field, and yet some opportunities go lost. Crumbled right before our eyes in a field of “oh, I guess I just missed that deadline” madness that only makes you feel miserable inside.
A contender indeed. Maybe someday but, sadly, not today, not on this one.
Until next time…