A Kick-Ass Way to Kick Off a Year of Creativity

Let’s face it – trying to cultivate a life of creativity requires a certain level of perseverance. It’s not enough to be passionate about it, because passion can fizzle out; it can be affected many different factors. Case in point: I am very much into yarnwork as well as experiencing and writing fiction, but I end up not giving them priority in my life because they’re too damn hard to get into after spending a day at the office.

So I take photos of the cat instead. I wouldn’t call it a creative victory.

There are other reasons, aside from exhaustion, that makes committing to a creative life difficult. For some people, it’s the constant, pervasive assertion by the world at large that “doing art for a living” equals starvation (completely ignoring the fact that there is an art to being a successful businessman or engineer) or that “art should be just a hobby”. For others, it’s the belief that they AREN’T creative in the first place.

But the biggest roadblock, especially for those of us chronic start-and-stoppers, is knowing that we suck. Sure, we know that we need to suck before we get better; but we often get stuck on how inferior our results are compared to our ideals.

I, personally, have started on projects and stopped working on them because they never turn out the way I expect them to. I have lots of pieces curled up in cursive handwriting in my giant pile of notebooks (which mom wants me to throw out – which I will, in turn, never do), hunchback pieces that will never be published anywhere. I take up creative writing/blogging courses, then I let life get in the way or let the talent and progress of other people make me feel inadequate. I have an unfinished granny square afghan sitting in a canvas bag somewhere, and knitting projects that fall by the wayside.

But the darndest thing is that I keep going back to them. It’s what makes me think that this has the potential to be more than a passion for me. This has the makings of a great love which, contrary to popular belief, requires a whole lot of work.

Many of you probably feel the same way

I think we need to be reminded that knowing we aren’t good enough at something we feel strongly about is exactly the reason why we should keep going.

Thankfully, there are many reminders out there. One of them is this video, which my mom shared on Facebook today (thanks, Mom!):

This week, I plan to finish a poem. Next week can be dedicated to an essay or a book review.

What is YOUR creative project for this week? Feel free to share in the comments section!

Trying to Not Lose the Spark

When I wrote yesterday’s post, I didn’t know that Robin Williams had passed away. When I found out, I didn’t want to think too hard about it – he’d been a huge part of my childhood and my formative years. This (admittedly non-personal) loss didn’t seem real, and I didn’t want it to be real. But I nevertheless found some time to immerse myself in everyone else’s tributes to him, taking comfort in the knowledge that he continues to inspire the world despite his tragic passing.

One Robin Williams quote I came across struck me especially hard:

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.

It’s a sage piece of advice, often forgotten by people like myself. We let the pressures of everyday life get to us. We listen to people who tell us what should or should not be done in order to be happy. We allow ourselves to believe in standards that do not apply to us.

We forget that parts of ourselves are completely batshit crazy, and that we sometimes need to let them out. We need to be irrationally driven towards writing, drawing, performing, entertaining; it doesn’t even matter if it benefits us financially in the long run because, in the long run, what it benefits are our souls. It’s part of acknowledging and recognizing the shapes of our own faces, the sounds of our voices, the colors of our own thoughts. To ignore that in favor of “more practical matters”, to stifle the little light that we’re supposed to let shine (to loosely quote the scripture of my childhood), is to erase what we would have been to the world.

Those wonderful words from the great Mr. Williams are a great inspiration to me right now. Lately, in my quest to “better myself”, I had become more than a little lax in my efforts to hold on to my spark – which, in this case, pertains to my more personal writing projects. As excited as I am to learn new things like what triggers Google Search Ads to appear or the awesome uses of pivot tables and the wonderful way opacity can be controlled in CSS (though I still need to work on my level of taste when it comes to “designing webpages”), I can’t really deny that I feel most alive and most myself when I’m writing or reading something that I connect with.

Maybe that’s why I was compelled to post a photo of my pre-bedtime writing implements on Instagram last night:

readinginbetween_writingimplements
Here’s a colored version of that photo.

There was this need to remember that allowing myself to be is important, even if it’s just in the form of making entries in my gratitude journal, planner, and personal diary every night.

It doesn’t work for everybody – some people might feel better doing sketches or coding, on any other part of the day – but this is what helps me sustain the spark of madness that Robin Williams was talking about. This is what’s stopping me from completely giving up on the dream of publishing fiction. This is what keeps me going despite all my anxieties over money and my personal as well as professional life. This, despite its personal nature, is what I’m most proud of – this insane desire to write out in cursive everything that could think of to write. I’m proud of this, even though I don’t make enough money out of this to feed my family (not yet, in any case).

I don’t want to lose this spark. Mr. Williams is right – I musn’t. And neither should you.

It’s one of the greatest legacies of this man, even he himself didn’t feel how special he was – shining a light on what makes humanity great, helping us laugh past the darkness. The light is dimmer now that he’s gone; the least we could do to honor this humbling human being would be to let our sparks glow in his wake.

 

Do you feel like you’re losing your spark? What are you doing to hold on to it?

Narrative Disappointments and How They Inspire Fiction

Not long after finished typing the last few sentences of my previous post, I began to wonder about my surprisingly strong desire to write an original(?) story that would make my ire over “Man of Steel” less painful. I mean, you’d think that it would inspire writing fanfiction, right? A good number of fic authors I know started writing fanfiction because the show or story they liked so much didn’t turn out the way they hoped.  Heck, I used to write fanfiction because I liked some fanon details better than I did canon details. So why exactly am I compelled to write ORIGINAL fiction in response to this particular disappointment?

Writing
I need a new notebook for this. DAMN. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not the only one

I vaguely remember a friend of mine telling me (while we were talking about writing) that part of his reason for writing his story is the fact that his favorite stories had to end – and that he was disappointed that they did. So he started writing an epic that will likely continue to let you know what’s happened to which characters for as long as possible. I think it’s awesome that he writes partly because of that. I also think it’s awesome that he has the balls to publish it, because I’m frankly too chicken to publish any of my own work.

By the by, if you’re interested in reading his work, you can find it on Wattpad. I think it has a promising premise, and I hope he gets the feedback he needs (as close to professional as possible) to maybe make this publish-worthy for the mass market.

Meanwhile, I’m also sure that he and I aren’t the only ones to want to do this. For example, I get the really weird feeling that lots of other authors found inspiration from disappointment in something that went down in stories that they would like. I can’t think of any of them right now, but I’m sure they exist. If you know any of them, would you mind sharing their names with me? I’m really interested to see their work. I’d like to know if being disappointed makes writing better or worse (or if it just depends on the writer).

My theory on why I went original instead of fanfic

I’m either too proud or too scared.

That is to say, I think I’m more inclined to stroke my own ego right now by saying “oh, you think THAT is the way to write a superhero story in general? here’s how I’d do it! watch the master!” I’m not sure why I’m presuming I’m the master of anything, though, because I can’t even find my way home sometimes without having to ask someone who I hope wouldn’t mug me. Maybe I’m just less willing to use existing characters to make a point these days, because part of me feels that I can make a point with my OWN characters.

I’m more likely scared, though. Think about it – what started all this is that I was angry over how people didn’t get Superman (and narrative in general) in “Man of Steel”. Superman is a HUGE, iconic character. To take him on is difficult, no doubt about that. If I even TRY writing a story about Clark/Kal El, it would be suicide. Lots have people have already done it. And I’m sure that they’ve done it BETTER than I ever will. So instead of aiming to write a better Supes story than Snyder et al, I’ll just write something new

I really suck
I really do.

Wow. I think I need to have another drink.