As lockdown in early 2020 got started, I set my mind to doing something I usually do not: submitting to an art prize. Normally I avoid these kinds of things, as the chances of getting selected are extremely small, and the workload is disproportionately high, which means it is basically for suckers, except for the one person that wins. For some reason that I do not understand now, I actually thought I had a reasonable chance, which caused me to set aside the calloused views that have developed over the years dealing with the art and publishing world. Suffice it to say that merit is a very small part of why things get published or selected and much of it has to do with hard to quantify things such as how cranky the person is making the decision at the time. While I can lose count of the quantity of people that feel that my stuff belongs in the prestigious art museums of the world, it doesn’t do anything to get it there, unless the mysterious powers that be permit it and, so far, they have not been in the mood to explain the mysteries of their moods.
Knowing those realities as a backdrop, I still had hope. Then I got carried away, and I had to ask myself how I’d react if I did not win. Then my enterprising brilliance entered into play, and I decided that I would just make the submission a book. That way, I couldn’t lose. Well, lose I did – not a winner, not a finalist, “but we encourage you to submit again next year.” Any feedback as to why that is the case? No. 33,000 words and 100 image submissions later….nothing, well, except for the prospect of a book.
I then wrote an honest yet cynical introduction, packaged the whole thing up, and then realized, disappointment aside, that I have put together a) the third most text heavy work to date and b) the most varied and comprehensive representation of my work yet in existence. Every other book has been focused on something much more narrow, whereas this one is complete open season on what I thought was best across the board.
Prior to this whole art prize nonsense, I had someone review my work and note that my books “do not explain what the images are.” I pointed out that they are labeled, with precision, as to the subject and location, and he said, “But it still doesn’t tell me anything about it. You’re telling me all this background about the image as I review it. It should be in the book.” With “My Struggle,” I put it in the book. After failing to be selected as a finalist, I exchanged a conversation with an art professional, in particular the person that recommended submitting to the prize, and she said, “Perhaps next time you shouldn’t say so much.”
For whatever it is worth, this is book #6 for 2020, so I have broken my record, which turned out to be quite a struggle.