On Artistic Integrity

Back in the day, the biggest faux pas you could commit was selling out. When Green Day was saying goodbye to the California punk scene, they instantly became a load of poseurs. But who are we to judge, really? Green Day is capable of making decisions in their own best interest — just as any artist is. And sure: everyone has asked themselves the big ‘what if’ questions should fame ever ever came knocking. The movies just make it all seem so easy….


Then fame comes knocking. Or an approximation of it. All two of you who read this blog may recall the announcement that my debut novel, OLLIE, had been picked up by a small British press. You may note that now, that announcement has vanished — and that is due to the sad fact that rushing to the finish line isn’t worth breaking your neck over. My (fabulous) agent and I decided that it was in OLLIE’s best interest to pull him from the publisher and shelve him for a bit, while we shop around my other manuscript, THE BATTER AND THE PINTO. As it was, OLLIE had been through countless revisions and versions, so what harm could a little more do? Changing the name of Ollie’s love interest seemed a small price, as did the addition of a few extra period details, such as more smoking. Stuff like that felt like an even trade if it meant getting OLLIE out there. Little did I realize the true price.

First and foremost, something I constantly preach to my painting students is that there is an art in knowing when to be finished. I have stacks of paintings I’ve ruined because I didn’t just STOP. The same can be said for writing. OLLIE survived the first round of publisher edits to be something I could be happy with in print. But then the edits kept coming. The amount of demands for rewriting was getting to a point where OLLIE wasn’t OLLIE anymore — nor was Ollie Ollie. There was no way I’d be happy bending to the opinion of someone who felt she had more creative input than she did. The plain fact of the matter was that I knew who and what OLLIE was meant to be — but she didn’t. Not a clue.

And I couldn’t be leaving my story with someone like that.

Or maybe I’m just that punk.