My cheat list for encouraging me to blog every day suggest that today is “Solitary Saturday: miscellaney, whatever strikes my fancy.”
It is clear to me that the range of possibilities here is enough to stop me in my tracks, so perhaps I had better rethink that prompt.
In the meantime, because it is pertinent to what I do – make art – I will share some thoughts around art.
I was recently turned onto the short and sweet and quickly available on Kindle book, Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleoni.
It is a quick read but requires going back and thinking about what’s being said in a more leisurely fashion. Which I will do here because (1) it will make me take the time to revisit the book which the content begs for, and (2) if I think about it out loud, I will have to order my thoughts and that will bring the abstract into the concrete world which is much more beneficial than having incomplete ideas running around in my head.
Kleoni starts the book (he is a writer) with:
Andre Gide put it, “everything that needs to be said has already been said,. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
Boy if that doesn’t knock the “I don’t know what to write/paint/sculpt – it’s already all been done” out of you, nothing will. Before he even starts talking about doing your work, he knocks out a huge block: who’ll pay attention? what do I have to offer? Which made me immediately like him and be inclined to get all the way through his thoughts.
But let’s linger with that for a moment. Because for me my greatest doubts come in around why I should take the time and practice the persistence to do something someone else has surely already done, and probably done better (ok – that “done better” happens to be the voices in my own head. But I do not think I’m alone in that).
The fact is, I know better from work outside my art. (And here’s a secret: EVERYTHING plays into your creative life. If you aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in the mundane, you are missing a great deal of inspiration. ) In putting together workshops for nonprofits (among the tasks of my day job), I hire different facilitators to teach the same material. And each of them has a slightly different take, and participants take away a different “my favorite new idea” from these workshops. Same topic. Different presentation/nuance/focus. Because I do written evaluations with open ended questions, I get to see this time and time again. So my daily life experience absolutely supports what Gide says. That’s a take-away that makes the whole book worth while even if I stopped there. I didn’t.
Kleoni’s take on all this is: You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe said, ‘We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”
Shades of the Law of Attraction! Only presented in a way (some content, different wording) that makes experiential sense to me, not if-I-hope-enough-and-pretend-there-aren’t-any-bad-things-in-the-Universe-enough-I-will-get-what-I-want kind of no-sense to me. Granted I tend to be a skeptic about the Law of Attraction, and am down right tired of: oh, if it’s happening to you it must be what you called, or need, or whatever on your spiritual level. Ahem. Bullshit. But, if it is presented to me that *everything I LOVE (important distinction)* I let into my life (including all those things I let in
when I was young and had no filters or didn’t know better or was in a learning mode) affects my creativity then I am more careful, now that I know to be careful, about what I love.
I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better. Maya Angelou
So each new creation we allow to come through us may have been written/sung/painted/danced/spoken before, but in this instance it is filtered through our unique human experience and so it must be something new under the sun. Bayles and Orland, in Art and Fear say: Each new piece of your art enlarges our [everyone’ else’s] reality. The world is note yet done.
Sera Beak, in The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark, says
This is a mysteriously connected universe. We don’t always consciously know how far our energy might reach and how intense its effect might be, but by doing what you intuitively feel you should be doing in this world, you are actually , believe it or not, helping to infuse this planet and even the entire cosmos with deep soulful purpose as well as encouraging other beings to seek out and bravely live their own role.
To not take what we love from those who have gone before us and refashion it through our own love and life experiences, then, becomes an act of selfishness that stops the forward movement of *everyone* and *everything*. Which is not to say “shame on you” because, according to Brene Brown, “Shame keeps us from telling our own stories and prevents us from listening to others tell their stories. We silence our voices and keep our secrets out of the fear of disconnection.” Rather it is to say: “Courage!” and “Have the audacity to reach out to others when you need to lean on someone – those others are waiting for your creativity in their own lives!” and “Onward – Begin!”
Well, all right! That was definitely miscellany! So I can rest for the day having fulfilled my own creative mandate.
What helps you get through doubt to your heart work? Who do you use for inspiration and why? Would love to hear from you!
Wylde Women’s Wisdom
You came with instincts and imperatives, and they will thrust through the mud and bud in their own glad season. It’s not your answers or ideas that you need to worry about. It’s your resistance to your ideas, any immediate reaction to choke the strange and uncomfortable. .. There’s nothing to choose. Just something to set loose. Tama Kieves, This Time I Dance