And for all you folks who hope that small zines to big zines to small press chapbooks to poetry publisher spined book is so long and hard that it's better to go for the performance route instead, then well - it's easier in some ways and tougher in others. Certainly applause is easier to come by than payment from zines, and open mikes are all over the place. Some paying gigs (but not anything to write home about) there are too. But of the big festivals, the online application forms are a job in themselves ('be good at admin' is a law of existing in the arts), then there's the big ones you can work your way into by offering them something quirky or something they needed done cheaper and you offered it cheaper...or if you're good at networking (even more important than admin!) getting to hear about who to contact, a name that isn't on the website in question often, lateral searches to find out the buried staff page they don't really want you to find... Some will give in. Some will even make you feel it was all worth it. But don't expect to be paid on time - most think free tickets should easily be enough. Two festivals from last year still owe our group (both of which I also won't name) promised expenses. Then there's the big guns, and if you get a recommendation from someone else, that will help. But some of them - without an agency like Better Chemistry or Plush Entertainment or whoever - and it'll be harder than you imagine.
Even if you do get the gig you were after, don't expect the promoter/festival organizer to turn up and see your shows, they'll be rushed off their feet. And don't expect any thanks unless you're a famous author (lit fests), a well known band (music and mostly-music mixed arts fests), with a well known publishing house/performance agency (poetry fests), or the head of a large company of warriors or soldiers (re-enactment events)...unless you've got to know whoever booked you in the meantime.
Some experiences have been good - of course they have, or I/we wouldn't keep going to stuff each summer/autumn and keep sending out our publicity and info.. But this time of year is when to bother the May to Octobers, just as September is the time to bother the March to June bunch, and I always find it soul-destroying...
We are always angriest on other's behalves - perhaps because we see our own troubles reflected in their own, with pity thrown in. But today I found the website of the artist who first inspired me and made me know for certain what it was I wanted to do (though it took me long enough to figure out how). And he still says that he is waiting to make money. For all that he has given to the many that have seen his shows, that man deserves to live in comfort on his own land for good. And he works harder than I or most artists do, simply because his art involves so many other artforms and hard graft with mechanical engineering.
Life in the arts? Don't even think about it unless you can do no other.