4 November

The First Potholder. Inspiration.

by Jon Katz

The first potholder. Maria has saved it, and hung it in her Studio.

  Going to NYC Thurs for the morning to meet with editors and marketers at Holt/McMillan, my Children’s Book Publisher. We are finishing work on “Lenore Finds A Friend,” editing “The Dogs of Bedlam Farm,” waiting to edit “Lenore and Frieida,” and today I sent off “Go Dreaming With the Dogs of Bedlam Farm,” a picture book.
  Lot of work to do, but I am excited about writing books for kids. I’ll be back Thursday evening.
  Maria’s potholder campaign has inspired me to think differently about selling photos. Met with Jon and Carolyn of Image Loft in Manchester, and we are all committed to selling some of the photos more cheaply, which is to say, under $200. Those would be primarily dog and animal shots. The farmscapes, and some of the other portraits from “Portraits Of My Life,” a talk and art show to begin at the Redux Gallery in Dorset, Vt. on January 9 or 10 will be higher, but not all that much higher.
 I think it’s important for people who consider themselves artists to find ways of selling their work more cheaply. I think old notions of what art is worth are collapsing a bit, as are many other things. We’ll see if there’s a good balance. I’ve got 23 photos I really like from different aspects of my life – Kinney Road, Last Days of Dairy Barn, Washington County Fair, my dogs and sheep – that have to be winnowed down to about 18, and I have to make sure the framing doesn’t run away with itself. Photography is a tough sell under the best of circumstances, and these aren’t those.
  I’m excited about the show, and about the prospect of taking a cue from Maria’s potholders and thinking about different ways to sell things. I have no interest in selling a lot of photos, or of selling them online, or of selling T-shirts, caps, or other stuff.
 

4 November

On being happier

by Jon Katz

Sunrise, the Studio Barn

  November 4, 2009 – A blog is a personal thing and often, a surprising one. I get a lot of messages these days telling me how much happier I seem and how different my writing is. This surprises me, of course, as does much of my life.
  I guess I rarely think of myself as happy, but writing doesn’t lie, and neither, over time, does a blog. People are picking up something.
  Like many people, I have had a challenging year. I have wrestled with change, fear, the challenge of writing different things, of learning how to take good photos, of learning children’s books, or understanding what a real relationship is, of struggling to sleep, or sorting out what I want to need and know from the avalanche of bad news pouring in on us all day long.
  I was sorry to see the donkeys and sheep and cows and goats leave the farm. And to say goodbye to some important people in my life.
 I have learned a lot of things about myself, and a lot of them are not good things.
  So I scratch my head a bit at the idea that I am happy.
  But I also see the point. Maria is wondrous gift, that leaves me shaking my head. I have a wonderful daughter, and I love talking with her. I love my work, every minute of it. Every photo I take is a joy, every book a labor of love, every day a gift. I have never enjoyed dogs more, and I have four wonderful ones. I have more to look forward to than I can possibly even list. Next year will see publication of “Rose In A Storm.” Maria and I will travel around the country and abroad.  I will have two photo shows. I will teach two story-telling workshops. I expect to sell the farm and move to a New Bedlam Farm, a new kind of creative space. I have some wonderful new friendships to build.
 I will write a sequel to “Rose In A Storm,” set in the Adirondacks. I am learning to manage my life, sanely and productively, a never-ending process.
 So thanks for reminding me that I am happy. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I am afraid to believe it. But I think it’s true.

4 November

The Power of Change

by Jon Katz

  November 4, 2009 – If I have a strong element of faith, it is perhaps my belief in the notion of change. Change is critical to our ability to survive and grow in a complex world. It is a central element in creativity, in building relationships, in adapting hard times, in overcoming adversity. By and large, the people I know in the world who can change are happier and more productive. They are surviving and then some.
  Change is not in itself a panacea of miracle cure. All change isn’t good by any means.
  But our ability to change and react in productive, creative and positive ways defines us, and much of ourselves. It is something we can control. It builds confidence in our ability to cope and adapt. In my personal life, and my work, I have been called upon frequently to change. Sometimes it is painful, sometimes destructive. Sometimes it is rewarding and challenging.
  We will all be faced with pain, loss and fear at some point.
  I have been through layoffs, corporate traumas, wild swings in the marketplace.  I’ve worked in journalism and for TV News. I’ve lived in many different places. I moved to a farm.
  I’ve written fiction, media criticism, mysteries, non-fiction books, memoirs, and now, children’s books and fictions. Each of these involved a lot of change.
  I am not proud of all these changes. There were too many. Some of them were poorly thought out, impulsive, or angry. Some damaged myself and other people. But I am learning, I think, how to change in more productive and creative ways. And it’s become an important notion to me, because I understand that I cannot protect myself from the harsh realities of the world, no matter what I might wish or want to do. I can learn how to respond to them, though.

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