And I’m sure, bringing all this up will most assuredly make your brain churn out similar questions and doubts.
I’ve rambled on ad nauseam in the past (here and here) about pursuing life goals, pursuing dreams. My whole life, I’ve told myself that following your heart first and foremost is the way to go. But now I have to ask myself. Is it worth it? Is all the effort, energy, hopes, dreams, and time worth it? Do I even have what it takes?
And I’m using “I” in the universal sense, not just about me.
If you read biographies of really successful people that you admire, most likely there is a common trend. They are driven to achieve their goals. And let’s be honest with ourselves, are we really pursuing our dreams will all the fervor and excitement that they really deserve? Or do we only pursue them halfheartedly? I want to be an illustrator, but I don’t spend my evenings slaving over paper trying to get it right. I spend some time here and there really attacking problems, and when I do, I see progress. However, the allure of cuddling on the sofa with my loved one can sometimes become my top life priority. And I still whine about how much I suck, even though I’m not really trying.
So, my boyfriend has been wondering if he “has what it takes” to be a writer. If it’s a road worth following, or whether he should just drop it and start having more fun with life. And sometimes we work so hard at our paying jobs, that spending any time working on something that might not pan out can seem like it scores low on the cost/ benefit analysis of life. We end up comparing ourselves to people who have thrown themselves into their work. People who have spent countless hours working towards what they have achieved and have made something amazing. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they are better than you. But maybe they deserve it for all the hard work they’ve put into it. This doesn’t mean you’re not great at what you do, or better than some people who have “made it,” but you haven’t but in the time or energy to get there yourself. Otherwise “They” would be “You.”
Look, I know your tired after a hard day at work. I know all about those doubts that creep out from the depths of your brain. I’m quite familiar with that devil on your shoulder. So let me be the life cheerleader for you, you can achieve ANYTHING you set your mind to, but you have to learn to pursue it with the same passion that you have for a new love interest. Unabashed, with no regrets. You need to desire it, crave it, long to be with it. No more half-hearted dreaming and wanting it to just happen, or think that life isn’t fair because no one wants to publish that short story you wrote 10 years ago that, let’s face it, isn’t really that good. Or sign your band because you write and record 2 new songs a year that are blatant rip-offs of Jack Johnson.
Yes, you might fail. Yes, you might put in all this effort and it never pans out. You might never achieve your ultimate goal. I’m not going to give you false hope. But sit down and think about it.
Is it worth it?
Is it worth giving up your cuddle time? Is it worth investing the hours and money to make it work? Is it worth isolating yourself in a place where you can practice and grow? Is it worth finding a mentor to guide you? Is it worth all the frustration?
I can’t answer any of that for you, so let me pose another question to you: When do you start living life, instead of becoming a slave to it?
As a reflection over the past week, I figure I’ll update my progress, and ask for a little advice.
“Sketchbook with a Plan” now to be referred to as SWAP, is awesome! I’ve come as far as purchasing an 11×14 sketchbook, taping in some pictures, and doing a trial page, but I like having a set goal in front of me, so I have high hopes.
As to my Life Drawing class? I suck at massing.
I’ve now convinced several people to do the Sketchbook Project with me, and we have squealed with excitement over our books being mailed. Now I wait anxiously by the mailbox so I can start.
Here’s where I need your help.
My Theme: Trading Forever
I have decided to fill the book with drawings reflecting what it feels like to be human. I need help.
So fill up my comments like crazy! What is it to feel human? What songs, images, colors, emotions make life what it is? What are important milestones? Essentially, what makes humanity and mortality so amazing? What would make someone who lives forever trade it all to be one of us?
It’s a love-letter to being human. It’s a warning, a poem, a tragedy, a comedy, a song you can’t help but dance to.
Like really push. As in, not fall asleep on the sofa watching anime, but actually do something.
The boyfriend and I have a comic in the fetal stages. If it were a child it would look something like this:
However, it’s sort of “On Hold” for the time being until I learn to draw a human body that doesn’t look completely lifeless and wonky.
So I have a goal: Get better and Get Better Fast!
What makes successful goal setting, exactly? I’ve tried this time and time again on several levels. From keeping a planner (FAIL), to Google calendars (FAIL), to iPhone alerts (FAIL), and now we keep a white board at home with our weekly plan it. Just so you know how that’s going, it still has last week’s plans scribbled on it.
I’ve accept the fact that I am not someone that is very good on follow-through unless I absolutely have to. That’s why I did so well in school, I had structured deadlines I had to meet. No more pushing things and pushing things and losing interest, then putting it in a box in the back of the closet never to see the light of day again. Well, until I find it 5 years later and go “Man, I really enjoyed working on that. Why did I stop? Oh, right! Because it got hard and I got bored.”
How do you break the cycle?
My hunny pie has a site call The Great and Secret Thing. You can go there and read all about it, but it’s reason for being seems to be having some sort of accountability. Pushing yourself to do something, having deadlines, and keeping it structured (It’s much much more than that, but for the sake of example, we’ll use it as such). I had a professor in college who said something to the effect of “It doesn’t matter how creative you think you are, if you can push yourself and can problem solve, you’ll do just as well as the person with all the creative ideas swirling around their head.”
Did I mention I’m lazy, and like falling asleep on the sofa while watching anime? I just finished Gun Sword and enjoyed it a lot.
So, instead of working hard, I have fits of jealousy. People who are more talented than I am, more creative than I am, more prolific than I am, more organized than I am. The list really can go on. But I WANT what they have. I desire it. I crave, lust, and covet it. So I’m trying to break this lazy mentality and GO for it. However, I think we all know, to accomplish something you have to do it for yourself. I’m not going to try and be great, I’m just going to try, and be accountable to myself. Try to reach my own goals, one step at a time, and move forward. I’ve accepted that I won’t be this fantastical artist, so maybe now I can just surprise myself.
Life Drawing Class:
I started this last night. It’s a six-week community education course where I draw naked people. BUt you don’t see a naked person in front of you, you justice line and shape and form. It’s a very interesting environment to be in. Why a life drawing class? I crashed straight into a metaphorical brick wall and realized I needed help, I needed instruction. Sometimes you just can’t figure it out on your own. And, well, the human body is a hard thing to understand. I haven’t drawn realistically in a long time, so it’s a challenge. You have to walk before you can run, right?
A Drawing Journal with a Purpose:
I have plenty of sketchbooks now, and they have doodles inside with a radome good drawing here and there, but nothing worth talking about.
I have a friend who wanted to play the drums. Well, he does play the drums, but he wanted to be great at it. So he would sit down and do drills until he got something right. For hours. He attacks song writing the same way. He works and works and works at it, and you can tell. He wants it. He craves it. It’s in his soul.
I want to draw. I want to be good at it. I need to do drills.
The comic is on a hiatus because I’m not happy with my portrayal of the human form. I can kinda do it standing, but when the action starts, I lose it. So after work today I am picking up an 11×14 sketchbook, some National Geographic magazines, and starting working on it. Each page will have a photo, a gesture drawing of the body in the photo, a basic structure of the body, and an attempt of drawing it with life and energy.
I post these on Twitter from time to time. They’re just doodles I make at my desk. I started it for several reasons: 1) to keep myself drawing, 2) to start working out structure in an non-confrontational way, and 3) to get over keeping things hidden away. It’s so easy to throw away something you think is crappy, and stay self-conscious about your work. Instead, I’m getting used to throwing caution to the wind. I don’t care if it good or bad, I’m just doing it. I’m not sure if this helps in any way, but somewhere in my brain, it’s a good idea, so I’m doing it.
I just want to be more prolific about it.
The Sketchbook Project:
I signed up for for the Sketchbook project. You can learn about it here. I even got some other creatives to do it as well. It seems to be a great way to be creative and have people see what you’ve done. I haven’t done well with these challenges before, but I’m going to damn well try. My theme: Trading Forever.
And no, this is not the same as “A Drawing Journal with a Purpose.”
I always thought “Hey, I’m kind of good at a lot of things, but want to be really great.” The only way to be really great is to devote yourself to that ONE thing until your happy with it. Well, that sounds pretty ‘elfin boring to me. I tend to really get into something, work on it a few months, then get tired of it and move on to something else. It breaks down to this: It get’s hard, so I stop. Doesn’t make a lick of sense, really.
So I’m going to diversify my portfolio. I will drill and draw, but devote time to other hobbies, like sewing, knitting, cooking, reading, other misc crafting things. I will make time for these things, and work hard at doing them well, but allow them to be in flux, and not stress so hard about them. They will be there to keep me well rounded, and to keep me from getting bored or burned out.
Well, now that my manifesto is out in the atmosphere, let’s see how it goes.
One of my most favorite jobs ever was working at a record store.
I worked there from November 2005- March 2007, and I used this opportunity to really round out my music collection. I knew my stuff, too. Since I moved to Memphis (exactly a year ago today) I’ve been without my music collection. All I have is piddle few songs on my iPod with a variety of NPR Podcasts (This American Life and RadioLab, anyone?).
I used to start talking with people, then a album I knew they’d like would pop into my head and I’d sift through my boxes and come back victorious and with 2 or 3 others I think they should try. (“You like the Flaming Lips? Check out this Sparklehorse album, the drummer/keyboardist from the Flaming Lips played and co-produced it. Check out Darker My Love too. I think you’ll like it.”) Or I’d take my new acquisitions to my friend Veronica’s house, and we’d sit on her front porch. We’d stare down the street and listen to them and discuss what shows we wanted to see, and how good the album playing was.
I like tangibly. I hardly ripped a CD to my computer or put it on an mp3 device. I never needed to, I always had them at arms length. It’s been a year, and I’ve been without them, and I crave them. Every day.
Albums I really miss listening to (and memories of really good times I’d like to reminisce on through them):
1. Jarvis Cocker – Jarvis
2. Patrick Wolf – Magic Position
3. Langhorne Slim – When the Sun’s Gone Down
4. I’m from Barcelona – Let Me Introduce My Friends
5. Nick Lowe – At My Age
6. Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
7. Yoko Ono – I’m a Witch
8. Dean and Britta – Back Numbers
9. TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
10. All of my Flaming Lips Albums in 5.1 Surround Sound
11. Arcade Fire (all of em)
12. Cat Stevens (all of em)
13. Mates of State (all of em)
14. Tom Waits – Closing Time
15. Nick Cave – Let Love In
16. Bouncing Souls – Hopeless Romantic
17. Flogging Molly – Swagger, Drunken Lullabies
18. The Sleepy Jackson – Personality: One Was A Spider, One Was A Bird
These are the ones I miss the most right now. I crave to put them in my every day rotation again. To hear their joyful noises rattle around my brain.
I also found out last night Patrick Wolf had a new album come out last year. I was SO sad I didn’t even know about it. I used to randomly Google search to see when it would come out and I missed it! I’m excited to give it a good hard listen.
Oh, and I missed my Andrew W.K. so much, I bought it again.
Not counting the mass of cups I keep forgetting to bring home.
Or the Dalek drawn (by me) on my whiteboard.
I always keep a sheet of paper lodged underneath my keyboard. Sometimes I fill it with scratches and numbers, doing quick pixel height math. Other times I doodle, or try something new, or use it to defrag my mind for a moment. Something to get my eyes off of a computer, and to accomplish something real and tactile.
I few weeks ago I started a scribble, a doodle, a scratching of a face. Something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. And it turned out beautiful. Something that I look at and am amazed that something with that much emotion in it was done in 30 seconds on a piece of scratch paper with random numbers strewn about it by me.
I’ve spent the last week trying to replicate it. The lines of the mouth, the slight turn of the head, the shape of the chin, even the flow of the hair. It’s not a perfect sketch, but one which shows so much possibility.
If only I could do it again.
Which got me thinking. I desire to do something, I am goal oriented, even if my goals are scattered or seem sometimes to be unreachable. But for all the drive someone may have, sometimes without even giving it a second thought, you accomplish something previously unimaginable. Something unreplicatable (yes, I realize that’s not a word). Something that just blows you away.
And you didn’t have to work so hard at it. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t easy, it just flowed out of you. For me, there’s magic there, and faith, and God.
So maybe we all don’t have to try so hard to accomplish something. Perhaps we just have to be so far in the moment we don’t even realize it’s happening.
Then we take those pieces, those moments in time, put them together, and realize we’ve done something great.
Anyway, as the story goes, to flex his writing muscle, he does these things called Fast Fiction. Essentially is goes like this: He has readers comment with a title (maximum of four words) about which you’d like him to write a fast fiction of exactly 200 words, together with a single word you want him to include in the text of the tale. Apparently this idea was developed by Lee Barnett.
And after reading them, they are beautiful and revolting and depressing. They can evoke many emotions, however, none of these seem to happiness, bliss, or exuberance. They are colored as a noir film, dark and gritty. So I challenged him to write one happy Fast Fiction. Just one that ends on a positive, uplifting note. Not one that ends with a child’s face melting off.
So every time he posts a new one and it’s not happy, I goad him, just a bit. He posted a new one last week. When I mentioned the non-uplifting tone, His response? “What did you want me to do with that title!” You can read his here.
And because I’m about proving a point, here’s mine.
The Indescribable Nothing. Word: Palpable
It was just a kid’s game really, blindfolding yourself, spinning in circles, and then wobbling around, dizzy and confused. The three glasses of wine only enhanced the feeling. She was spinning long before she covered her eyes. She eyed her friends warily then pulled the sleep mask down, blocking out the night sky.
Now she was surrounded by darkness.
And the scent of fresh cut grass.
In this nothingness her senses were filled. An over abundance of sweet and salty. She had always been too scared to close her eyes. Afraid of being isolated. She could smell green. Actually smell green. She heard the crickets, the birds. She propelled herself around, leaning slightly backward to keep her balance.
She was confused, and she couldn’t stop the world from rotating quickly, but she made her feet move faster, around and around. She outstretched her arms, feeling the sticky, humid air flow freely around her. She felt like she could fly.
Then she fell, the palpable touch of the grass on her legs never felt so real before.
Pulling over her blindfold, she laughed so much her sides hurt. Her friends rushed over to help her up, stumbling over themselves.
“That was amazing! Can I do it again?”
It’s not that I think he’s depressing. I’m the one who has ceramic skulls littered around out new house. I do, admittedly have my own Pollyanna syndrome, and can spin just about anything into something happy or into an embarrassingly bad joke. I just want to challenge him by pushing him out of his comfort zone. Ironically, one which invokes feeling of discomfort. Which leads me to wonder, is writing like music? Easier and more satisfying to write in a minor key? Does writing about something dark feel more interesting to us, as songs in a minor key are for interesting for us to listen to?
Now I’ve gone a bit philosophical on you. Apologies.
Left: Sean Ono Lennon and Kemp Muhl. Right: John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
A photographic reinterpretation of the icon Rolling Stone cover (Annie Leibovitz) was photographed by Terry Richardson and was featured in the fall issue of Purple Magazine .
I found this image on a random Sean Ono google search. The comment I saw seemed quite positive towards the new photo. I was overcome with feelings of disgust. Mostly because it speaks volumes to our society now verses the 1970’s. Of course we’ll replace the naked man with a naked woman. We’ll change the position of power from the woman to the man.
I find the original photo so endearing, a man at his most vulnerable. A reversal of standard gender roles. Instead, this new interpretation seems to make the pose pompous (not to mention, belong on the American Apparel website). While one liberates women, the other shows us more as sex objects to the opposite gender.
I, by no means, am a feminist or a non-feminist. I do think I am a strong, independent woman. And I’m not sure if this is a feminism issue, a random commentary on a changing society, or a personal art preference. Either way, I’m a bit sad this Sean Ono Lennon and Kemp Muhl photo exists.
My boyfriend and I have been taken over by some alien race which regresses our brain patterns.
We’re acting like 10 year olds… maybe younger.
It started on Sunday night. My head was congested. I couldn’t breathe, ached all over. I was sick. My lovely Beau suggested we hunker into bed and watch something streaming on his laptop. We settled onto the 2005 series of Doctor Who, both always wanting to see it, but neither really taken the time.
And there it was, bad computer graphics, normal looking actors, and plastic walking mannequins. It was entrancing, addicting, captivating my brain all day Monday. It was like the beginning of a new relationship. I was giddy, excited, and couldn’t wait for more. So, right after work I bring dinner over to the boyfriend’s house and we watch the rest of the first season. Each episode building on the one before. Peeling away the layers to reveal the continuing complexity.
It wasn’t until Tuesday that I realized something was wrong. All day the theme song played through my head (and now taking the place of my ringtone). Not wanting to spoil the series but devouring the internet for anything concerning The Doctor. Debating whether Doctor 10 will be better or worse than Doctor 9. Tickle attacks were occurring more and more. We had regressed to the joyful bliss of being a child. Our nights becoming slumber parties of a tent made out of sheets, Girl Scout cookies, Me, my Love, and The Doctor.
How did this happen? We’re grown ups now, sort of. We close on a house in less than a week, yet we’re making silly jokes and yelling thing ranging from “EXTERMINATE” to “Woooooooooo OOOOOOOOOOOO ooooooooooooo.” What is it about the Doctor that makes me obsessively want to watch more? What is that has captivated a whole country for close to 50 years?
And I think I understand it. The story and The Doctor are fun, exciting, but dark and mysterious. We, has humans, love mystery, and the unknown. I believe somewhere inside, we all want to be companions of the Doctor. Not actually BE the Doctor, but to have him show us the Universe. See the things we can only dream about and are forced to create in our minds.
I believe The Doctor has opened up our minds again, and has made it okay for us to imagine and explore. He’s broken the mental bondage holding us down, and encourages our desire and wanderlust.
I’m curious and want explore this whole idea more, but we have 4 more series to watch.
Something clever should go here. Interests include: Bad TV, good art films, Rock + Roll, drawing, dancing around the house, comic books, video games, using one's hands, using one's heart, using one's brain, discovering new things, and professing and encouraging the discussion of the hottness of Jesus. Not always in that order. Favorite color: Your face. Location: Memphis, TN