artistic frustrations

All posts tagged artistic frustrations

A Book Report on Peter Rabbit

Published October 7, 2016 by admin

I know, I know, it’s been forever.

I feel like I’ve needed time away to realign and figure out what works for me. Some days it feels like my whole life is about learning how to balance. I still have a huge to do list and a lot of things to get to, but the great news is I’m starting to write again.

Who knows if it’s any good, but they’re words and they’re mine, so that’s something.

The past year, whether it’s been blog posts or stories or longer works, I always feel like my timing is off, or if I just wait and get rested or eat something first, or tick off fifty things on the list so I’m really ready to concentrate, then I can write. Maybe. Of course you know how that goes.

Back in the bronze age of my childhood, I was obsessed with the Peanuts comic strip and characters. In the course of my life if I haven’t read every single strip, I’ve probably come close. Seriously, I’m a walking Wiki for Peanuts, it’s a little terrifying. What started out as a way to get close to my parents (they read the strip all the time) turned into a love of Snoopy and his antics and grew into an appreciation for the more intellectual humor as I grew older and understood all the nuances. Plus, it was an easy way for the folks to bribe me into doing my homework (our libraries had a ton of Peanuts collections at the time). This was back in the day when you didn’t need a holiday to have an animated special on network television, and Snoopy and the gang popped up pretty often (plus every Saturday on their own TV show).

Most people who know of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown know it as a stage musical. It’s not particularly hard to put on, so most groups do it (I helped do costumes for it in college, never knowing that everything I was learning about costumes and the Peanuts brand would help me out later on in life, ever proving that my goal list was written by my six-year-old self). It was also an animated special back in the day, which was my very first encounter with it. We taped it from TV so I could watch it all the time and annoy the adults by singing it any time I wasn’t in front of the television for like six months. At least. Random phrases still pop into my head and if you drop a line in front of me I can’t guarantee that I won’t go full on Snoopy on you. It happens.

There’s a song in the show called ‘Book Report,’ and I remember being impressed with it and being really irritated by it as a kid. It’s a cool concept and a great set-up. Admittedly the vocals can be a little grating in the animated version, but it was more that I was one of those people that was intent on being the best student ever and NONE of the characters were taking their assignment seriously! Lucy’s just hitting the word count, Schroeder isn’t even talking about the same book, Linus is going above and beyond, but he was too smart for me to relate to. Plus I viewed him as younger than me, so what did he know? And the song just always makes me feel sorry for Charlie Brown. Poor Charlie, the procrastinator, the worrier, the one who feels that if he can just get rested or start a little later because he works better under pressure or have a snack first, it’ll be okay. It made me so frustrated because if he’d just GET STARTED he’d see that he could do the report and it wouldn’t be so bad! Even his last line would just make me so irritated because he could’ve been done already!

Here, just see for yourself

Yeah, you know where I’m going with this. Just put a striped shirt on me, because that’s where I’ve been the past year or so. I’ve had to grit my teeth and be a little bit more Lucy, maybe curb my Linus researching tendencies a smidge, and stop thinking of every other thing I could be writing while trying to write something else, like Schroeder. Argh, it’s worse than I thought, the whole Peanuts gang resemble my bad habits when I really want to be Snoopy off having adventures and not even having to do menial stuff. Except that I love writing, and writing is my excuse to have adventures.

But I’ve especially had to step away from my inner Charlie Brown and Just. Start. Writing.

Sometimes that’s what it takes, for better or worse. Just start and see what you end up with and worry what becomes of it later. Not the easiest thing for me, but I’m getting there.

Or, if you rather:

A book report on Peter Rabbit…

 

 

 

 

Permission Granted

Published April 6, 2016 by admin

I want to get back to talking about writing and creation specifics off and on. I get that I may not have as much credentials as Stephen King or JK Rowling, but at the same time, sometimes I think it helps to hear what people are dealing with and their take on different parts of the process. Like anything else, I hope you know that your journey is just that: Yours. It is specific to you and things will change as the world and businesses in them change. There’s no way to draw a direct map from A to B, no elusive magic that will suddenly zap you in the butt if you want it bad enough or happen onto the right place at the right time. It’s work and a little luck and paying attention.

Beyond that, though, I think there is an ingredient that we don’t talk enough about.

Ten million years ago, I was writing original fiction in secret while still keeping an eye on fanfic lists. This will probably forever be a guilty pleasure of mine off and on, but at the time it was a way to have friends with similar interests when being a girl with geek interests wasn’t a great thing. It still isn’t looked at as a great thing to be, but that’s another post, entirely.

A long-time friend was a sounding board to a lot of off the wall ideas I was flinging at her, a lot of which involved a lot of intricate mythos and legends that I’d either need to warp or reinvent or whatever. These days, that’s my life, but back then? It felt like I was staring up at a million foot cliff with no rope. She was able to help me fill in a lot of the blanks with obscure Celtic legends, but suggested I hit up a friend of hers who was doing some amazeballs work at the time. Not only was he behind some of fandom’s up and coming events, but he was working at a graphic novel company, as well. I knew better than to outright hit anyone up for an opportunity, and this was long before I even had enough of a concept to pitch anything or would dare to do that anyway. These days, that’s a lunch conversation. I emailed him explaining how I got his address,  our mutual friend, and the big fat impossible wall I was facing.

I don’t have the email anymore, but the sentiment still very much rings true. His reply was incredibly nice and he said it sounded like an intriguing idea, an intriguing world, and he agreed I still had some work to go.

I don’t know what I had been asking for or what I was expecting, but the womp-womp sound effect would perfectly describe my mood upon reading that.

He went on, though. He said something like I obviously knew where I wanted things to go and had a huge drive to do it, and it actually seemed to him that the problem was that I hadn’t given myself permission to do that…just do it. He went onto say something that I’ll never forget: that if I couldn’t give myself that permission, he would give it to me, right here, right now. I had his permission to go work on this project or whatever else I wanted to write.

Huh.

That still can be a hang-up of mine. I put the cart twenty miles before where the horse is stabled, I’m worried about things that don’t need to be addressed immediately. Now I recognize it, because it definitely gets in the way of what I want to be doing at any given time. Then, his reply was a distinct revelation, and it’s one I go back to in my mind when I get ideas but immediate jump the gun and start getting anxious about everything except actually just getting started.

A lot of people I talk to talk of someday: someday they’ll write the book or make that outfit or take that class. Or, a lot of people use the c-word. ‘Oh, I can’t do that, I’m no good at this, I don’t know how…’

I hate that mindset. I  hate it about myself and I hate that the world in general cultivates it. That is one of my biggest pet peeves and if I ever meet you at a convention and you say something akin to that and I vault a table to yell at you, I’m sorry. I do it out of love, I swear. Here’s the thing:

1. You are alive, right?

2. Then there is time because you aren’t dead.

3. Learn. or try. or do. If it makes you happy, do it.

4. Didn’t work and you still want to? Repeat.

That’s all it is, folks. Seriously, whether you’re wanting to do something for a hobby or a profession, there you go. I think we scare ourselves into thinking we can’t write a book unless it’s a best seller. We can’t make an outfit unless it’s on a runway. We can’t act unless Joss Whedon is going to be directing us or Oscars are involved.

If you want to do something, please take away the end result and just do it. Give yourself that permission. It may lead to nothing it may lead to material results it may lead to soul results. But if you feel like you have that hot fire under foot feeling and are staring up at the wall and freaking out, then ask yourself what you need, why are you freaking out? Do you not know something and are scared to go look for those elements? Are you just feeling intimidated? Are you afraid of what people say? Are you scared of putting in that work and having nothing come of it?

Now, more than ever, it’s easy to find information and missing pieces of puzzles. It is very easy to feel intimidated, but think of what you’re starving your soul out of by not at least trying. People say a lot of things and they usually don’t remember them a month down the road. I’ve had a lot of projects happen that came into nothing. You’ll live, trust me. Beyond that, though, I still care about them, and as long as I care, they can always be reborn, transformed, or reused. There’s life after death for ideas, I swear.

And if you’re just flat-out in denial of your gifts or scared, I am telling you it’s going to be okay. Okay comes in many forms. It will be fine. Please, please, give yourself permission to do that thing that you really, really want to try.

And if you can’t do that? Then I’ll do it for you. I give you permission to go create. Go write. Go make something. Go paint. Do it for you, do it because you have to, do it to see what other people say, do it for whatever reason, but do it. Slam out those words and ideas, sing that song, put your spark into the mass bonfire and watch it catch and sparkle.

It will be okay.

Permission granted.

 

SJ Reads: Creative Edition

Published March 22, 2016 by admin

So I’ve been reading a ton lately, and figured that it would be good to go back to these posts. I’m trying to group by theme, and feature the ones that I think are the most beneficial/best examples of the genre – or if I’m not all about them, then use them as an example of their high and not-so-high points.

Today, we’ll be looking at books on being creative: whether that means marketing, writing, or whatever, that’s up to whatever I’m connecting with at the moment.

Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon – I love this book. This makes me excited to do things, and it’s a really fast read. It will get you motivated, whether through his advice or unique poetry. There’s a lot of practical advice, and although it’s a short, fast read, the author isn’t just giving out sound bites. I felt altogether better after I read it, which is a big plus.

Show your Work by Austin Kleon – I bought this after I had done a store signing,and I’m actually still reading it. Maybe it’s because this is where I have a harder time, but it’s a more slow-going book for me. However, I still love his positive vibe and that this book reads more like talking to an actual person than someone touting around a bunch of titles or whatever. I value the words in the book because the author comes across as so normal and group-oriented.

The Author’s Guide to Marketing With Teeth edited by Michael Knost – This is a Stoker nominee for a reason. The draw is that it combines a lot of essays and interviews by famous/well-to-do authors about promotion, but don’t ignore Michael’s intros and interludes, because not only does he know his stuff, but he’s articulate and puts it in an approachable form. This goes over a lot of basic things that people tend to forget about, and it’s great to have in one volume.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert – I love Liz Gilbert’s stuff anyway, but this was the book I’ve been waiting for. I’m still reading it, but her upbeat, loving nature shines through every page. She uses a lot of her personal experience or experience of those around her, and addresses a lot of personal moments, like how to handle fear, what role creativity actually has in your life, and on and on. It’s one of those that I know I’m going to read repeatedly, because I can feel myself emotionally plugging in the moment I open it.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer – Another one I’m still in process with, because a lot of it strikes a chord with me. Written after her TED talk on the same subject matter, Palmer goes through her career and talks a lot about her own artistic journey, her relationship with her fans, and leaning on others in different forms. Powerful stuff.

 

So You Want to be a Starving Artist: Multitasking and Burnout

Published January 21, 2013 by admin

First off – to those who have sent me interview requests and guest posts – I am in the process of getting back to you to get those scheduled. I’m amazed at how many people have taken me up on that offer, and I want to make sure everyone gets their time to shine. The thing is getting it done while getting everything else done, as well.

Which brings me to one of those darn starving artist posts, heh.

Today’s subject is multi-tasking.

I know it’s something of a necessity these days, but if you’re getting into writing or the arts in general (especially if you’re freelancing or you’re the main focus of your business), you’re going to have to develop this skill. You don’t have to be a ninja at it, but there is a certain amount of juggling. I’m still developing a rhythm. I want to get to a point where I have set times for handling promo, set times for writing my blog and scheduling other people for my blog, set times for writing, set times for submitting…because the fact is it all takes time. Editing, writing, developing, business aspects, searching for promo, doing the promo, scheduling other people, blogging, doing guest blogging, column writing…it definitely takes a lot if you want to put your name out there.

Is it worth it? Of course. And I still have something of a social life. I’m far from a party animal, so I suppose that helps, but I still hang out with my family, I still visit my friends, I still have days where my brain just refuses to do anything (and sometimes these days turn into like a week…). Sometimes I just want to curl up at night with a book and ignore everything else.

But at some point, I (and everyone else in this lifestyle) has to get back in the saddle. I’d love to sit back and let things happen, but the fact is that’s not going to be the case for anyone. These days, everyone has to take things into their own hands, even if it’s just a little. And call me crazy, but I want to know what’s going on in all the aspects of my writing career, and in my artistic career in general. I don’t like being kept in the dark. I don’t like leaving things to chance. I am learning to loosen up a bit, but there’s really only so much that I can loosen up at this point, because there is a lot to do. Seriously, I’d put up my to do list here but then I’d just cry. And the problem is by throwing it up in my face constantly, I freeze. So I’m learning to just take a little at a time and cheerlead myself into getting things done…and realize that I don’t have to be Supergirl.

Batgirl is a whole other story. It’s a life ambition to be Batgirl, but I don’t have to be Supergirl.

I will admit that I love a lot of the to do list, though. It really helps to love what you do, and to be grateful for the opportunities you’re given. I definitely am grateful and a little incredulous a lot of the time.  And then there are the days where I want the whole world to go back to living in caves so I can just scrawl pictures on the walls and not have to do anything else.  I have my burn out days, too, believe me. I’m learning to not beat myself up about them, though. I experience them, and I try to encourage myself. I let myself have some time and then it’s back to slowly working my way through the to do list.

And believe me, that to do list is not going to go away any time soon.

Welcome to the arts, everybody! 🙂