I've been getting pretty focused about that recently, and even considered doing a masters degree to polish up the craft. I've been pretty lucky in that I seem to have found people online who are willing to constructively tear it apart for me, and indicate its weaknesses.
Now that I'm staring down the barrel of the last act of my life, I'm less excited about control and solo effort, and I resent the way the business aspects interfere with my space for creative writing.
I don't know to what extent someone can BECOME an artist - you either are or you aren't - and if you are you'll HAVE to make your way to some kind of sickly light, no matter how terrible the soil you were seeded in your nature will out somehow.
I feel like I'm stepping into a place of spiritual contemplation every time I enter a studio; it's always had a certain magic to me that has never worn off with familiarity.
Whatever the opposite of regret is best describes how I've always felt about that decision - it opened me up to a million creative opportunities I needed to experience away from the bull and distorting mirrors that fame engenders.
I took the process of doing as much myself as I could like a duck to water. I set up my own label and publishing, etc, and it was a fun learning curve two decades ago.
I'd make a terrible practitioner of any religion in any formal setting.
My faith, inasmuch as I have any, is more like a kind of Joseph Campbell thing, and even that frequently finds itself tested to oblivion in siren waters.
If you feel driven and compelled to make your work and to be fiercely original and have something unique to say, in a compelling way, then chances are the helpers will be there for you the doors will open some, the ice will crack.
In some ways it's taken me decades to come clean and make honest work - and still to this day, sometimes I find myself wanting to hide behind my work and deny the more biographical aspects.
I always liked the magic of poetry but now I'm just starting to see behind the curtain of even the best poets, how they've used, tried and tested craft to create the illusion. Wonderful feeling of exhilaration to finally be there.
Trust the tale, not the teller.
Now I'm having to live with sales of around 50,000 per album - but I'm pretty content with my place in the general scheme of things, even if it's meant I don't drive a fancy car and can't afford grand vacations.
So why sign your name in blood for more? It seemed like a sensible arrangement for me. I didn't sell large numbers of records and the record company paid advances they rarely recouped.
There's nothing like doing something wrong to learn how it might be done better.