Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Last Butt-Kicking of 2007

Successful people believe that they have the internal capacity to make desirable things happen.

This is perhaps the most central belief shown to drive individual success. People who believe they can succeed see opportunities where others see threats. This comfort with ambiguity leads people to take greater risks and achieve greater returns.

Successful people tend to not feel like victims of fate. They believe that they have the motivation and ability to change their world. They see success for themselves and others as largely a function of motivation and ability, not luck, random chance or external factors.

Okay, folks. Here it is. My last friendly butt-kicking of 2007, for artists, writers, moms, and anybody else who reads this blog. I don't pretend to be the most successful person in the world, but I can say that I'm happy with where I'm at as a brand-new 26-year-old. I'm better off this December than I was last December. If I've made the same leap by next year, I'll be happy next year too.

I'm a big believer in goals, so for me, setting New Year's Resolutions seems pretty obvious. I tend to write down my resolutions right before the New Year and then modify them throughout the year as I meet them. And I do tend to meet them. Want to hear some of mine from last year's resolutions?

1. make my living entirely from art again this year (despite a ghastly October that had me eating way too much spaghetti with no sauce, I did this) (and I had a set money figure that I wanted to meet for myself to count as "making my living", which I'm not going to share here, so don't ask, you nosy buggers)
2. get a contract for one of my novels (regular blog readers will know that LAMENT is coming out in Fall '08)
3. get into American Academy of Equine Art's exhibition (didn't do this but got into the Colored Pencil Society of America's International Exhibition instead).
4. teach more workshops (the Detroit branch of the CPSA flew me out there to teach a three day workshop in March, which was very fun & I've been asked to do a series of 5 workshops in Northern Virginia in '08)

For me, there's no need to convince me about the value of New Year's Resolutions. Setting goals works, because it makes me accountable. How can I be successful if I don't know what I'm supposed to be trying to do? With that in mind, I've dug up some useful goals links for the wafflers amongst you to read before setting your goals. Setting bad goals is worse than none at all, so make sure you're doing it right.

Make Your Goals Specific
The Mindset of Successful People (scroll down to get to the good part)
Hokey Article about Visualizing Goals

The most important thing is to make your goals specific. "Make Money with my Art" is a crummy goal. "Make xx,xxx" with my art is a better goal, because you'll know when you've achieved it. And if you only make x,xxx amount with your art, you know how far you still have to go, and you'll stretch to reach it.

The next thing is to make your goals something that you can mostly do under your own steam. Don't put "Achieve world peace" (which is another sucky non-specific goal by the way) unless you think you can do most of that on your own.

And the next important thing is to not make your goals too easy. Sure, you can throw in some gimmies. But throw in some stretches there. You risk not making them, but you also include that chance that you might. And if you don't put them in there, I can guarantee that you won't make them.

And finally, show them to everyone. Remember that accountability thing? The more people that see them, the more real those goals are. You have a reason to achieve them, to prove yourself to others as well as to yourself.

With that said, here are my top ten goals for 2008.

1. Make 75% of my income from my art. (I have an actual dollar amount that only my family knows).
2. Make 25% of my income from my writing.
3. Shift my art income to 75% prints, products with my art on it, and workshops and the rest from originals.
4. Get a contract for at least one other novel and the sequel to LAMENT.
5. Learn to play my two favorite O'Carolan pieces on my harp (this is my gimmie, but I wouldn't make time for it unless I put it on the list).
6. Visit New York City with my husband (and maybe my toddlers).
7. Inspire at least one other person to go full-time with their art.
8. Comfortably run a mile by the end of the year (this is another gimmie, but like the other one, I wouldn't feel like I had to do it unless it's on this list).
9. Get into the studio to record a lament for LAMENT & build website for book with the tune as a download.
10. Land a good literary agent.
(11). Get my dog Ginger to stop smelling like fish.

Looking at that, I'm sure I'm missing some things, but I'm going to jot them down as I think of them. And you know what I'm doing right at this moment? I'm taking that list, using a beautifully fat and smelly Sharpie to write them on a piece of cardstock and taping it next to my desk where I can see them every day. And I can't wait to start crossing them off.

Let's see your goals, folks. Post a comment here if you've put your goals up on your blog, or if you're afraid to do it that publicly, feel free to email them to me (portraitswithcharacter AT if you want me to help you feel accountable.

Happy New Year! It's going to be a good one.

Friday, December 07, 2007


"Grayce (take two)" - 2.5 x 3.5" colored pencil on drafting film.
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
E-mail me at portraitswithcharacter AT to purchase art-card sized portraits ($40 each).

I don't consider myself an unfriendly person, but neither am I snuggly, cuddly, approachable or hands-on.

Since I've gone full-time as an artist, two years ago, I have read multiple studies on how hand contact will sell more product, and how a warm hug will often cinch a deal that a handshake wouldn't. Intellectually, I take that all in and think fascinating. Practically, I imagine putting the concept to use and think Cooties.

I just . . . I just don't like this whole hugging of strangers thing. I don't like hugging of friends thing. I hug my dog. I hug my dad. I hug my husband. In three entirely different ways. But otherwise -- hm. I'd rather eat bell peppers, and that's saying a lot.

The problem is, there's no real way to broadcast the fact of my anti-hugness without appearing unfriendly. Well, perhaps there is, but I've lost the knowledge as I've aged. In college I was broadly labeled as "scary" by those who knew me and guys would tell me that they had friends who wanted to ask me out but were too scared too. They would hoot when someone tried to lay a hand on my shoulder or otherwise pop a personal bubble which I prided on being no less than ten feet. On either side of me.

But now I seem to have people hugging me all the time. They can't help it. They mean well. They want to show me how glad they are to see me. They don't realize they're setting off all kinds of personal alarms and making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up like Carrot Top's hair.

I wish I had porcupine spines. Then I wouldn't have to say anything, you know? I'd be automatically repellent. And it would also be great for branding purposes, wouldn't it?

BUYER 1: Where did you find that awesome painting?
BUYER 2: That booth down near the entrance.
BUYER 1: Which one?
BUYER 2: The artist with the spines all over her body.
BUYER 2: I know just who you're thinking of.

Also spines would be great for organizing my life -- I'd never lose another business card. Just stab that sucker onto one of the spines and I'm a walking Rolodex.

Guys, I gotta go. I need to revise my Christmas list. Need me some spines.