Oh, I know you want to shake the foundations and rattle the bones, but maybe it is time to stop taking yourself so seriously. Humor doesn't win awards but the right touch imbues your work with humanity. Heck, it imbues you with humanity. Open your soul to frolicking.
It's the beginning of the new year. You are probably making plans. You are dreaming dreams. Here's a thought. What would be fun? I mean since when has creative work had to be a drag? You are a dreamer at heart if you want to write. Writing is about making other enter a waking dream. Whimsy is part of every dream I've ever had. So paint the town. Go on a spree.
Even the best horror is helped by a bit a comedy. This willingness to create a world of shaded values will make your work stand out. Go to your WIP and stare at it. Ask your main character what would make the good times roll. Let the character tell you this in his or her own voice. Be a diligent scribe and write all the nonsense down. Whoop it up!
Adding humor to work is a little like grabbing ahold of the rope swing at the swimming hole. The rope burns as you swing out over the reflective water and then let go. For a few seconds, you are airborne until you plunge into the shockingly cold pool. This water floods your ears and shoots up your nose. You know you are alive. You break the water's surface with shouts of laughter.
Perhaps that is the best part of adding humor to the mix. It makes the everyday boring moments of life bearable. It makes your writing breathe.
Finally, don't just add humor to your fiction. Add it to your life. I hope as you plan for your new year, you make room for fun. Insert time to laugh. Take time to cultivate grins. If your schedule leaves no margins for doodling, dancing, and dreaming, you are missing the mark. Stop being so uptight.
Do your best work this year, but remember to have a good time. Laissez les bon temps rouler. Please take this to heart.
Sleeping is a horrible way to live your life. Here at the end of 2016, it's time to wake up. How do I know you are asleep? I have read the writing on the "subway walls and tenement halls." (Thank you, Paul Simon.) Have you read the writing on the wall? "Mene, mene tekel upharsin." Our days are numbered.
This life we are living is the only one we are sure of. Don't spend it enamored by pop icons and puff pieces. Dig into some arguments. Who are you? What is driving you? Elevate, Artists. This coming year, elevate.
Strip off your pride garments. I see you walk naked in the streets. Everyone sees. Invest in hard work. Add depth. Pour in Value. Don't pile up some clothes and call it art. You can do better. Take those clothes and hand them to the homeless. Then dance with the blue dog or spin with the green cat. Grab that magic carpet and watch your art explode with invention.
Now share your story. Share your color. Share your kind. Name, and name, and rename. This bankrupt world is about people not leaving margins and living on Wonder Bread and Squeeze Cheese. Invest in forgiveness. Join the up worthy force, my friends! Help each other. Bring out your art and shock the numb minds. Open those eyes!
Here is some serious truth: nothing will happen until you open your blasted eyes first. What lies have blinded you? What must you let go? Jump off the cliff and don't be afraid. You are meant to fly.
Here is a doodle for you.
Here is a quote for your pocket:
What I would say to the young men and women who are beset by hopelessness and doubt is that they should go and see what is being done on the ground to fight poverty, not like going to the zoo but to take action, to open their hearts and their consciences.
Happiness must be woven into your art. Create what makes you happy but know this - only you know what makes you happy. After you embrace happiness, seek goodness. Do good. Wherever. Whenever.
Your happiness journey must include uncovering negative emotions. This takes effort, but you are captive until you release your anger, sorrow, and pain. Release empties you, making room for new feelings. You may have to talk to someone. Please do. Releasing your negative emotions is a step to do good in this life.
All artists want to hear the words, "great job." The desire to connect with others is something deep and truly human. The happiness of art must be disconnected from the praise that may or may not follow your work. The art must be enough. If it isn't, dream a new dream. Time for new dreams is always available.
Plunge into what brings you joy. Connect with ideas bigger than yourself. Feed your art with positive words. Stop the negative talk. I don't believe in positive thinking, but I do believe in happiness. It's the best state for us all. Happiness' pursuit is the business of your art. Happiness is about lifting burdens and setting captives free, you first. My faith in Love is unwavering. Love is the warp of the universe. It holds all together. Seek this Love and you will find it. Your work will rise.
Whisper to yourself, "I am loved. I may not see it or feel it, but it is just as true as the gravity that holds me to this planet."
Allow love to infuse your work. Anger, bitterness, hate, this stuff will only take your art so far. Cultivate happiness. Stop speaking and speaking, creating and creating, and listen. Listen to critics. Listen to the wind and the rain. Listen to your breath. It whooshes in and out. So wonderful. Don't be afraid to take risks after you've listened.
Finally, do good. Give your time and your efforts. Don't be too busy to listen to someone's story. This may be what you need for your art to blossom. Art is a conversation. Suffering abounds in this world. Alleviate it. Remove it. Your art is an arrow to pierce the heart of darkness. Share your skills. Be generous.
Yes, dear friends, be happy and do good. Let your art be dedicated to these pursuits. Enjoy your precious days.
Here is a doodle.
From the great poet, Bob Dylan, a quote for your pocket.
Come writers and critics Who prophesize with your pen And keep your eyes wide The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon For the wheel’s still in spin And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win For the times they are a-changin’
Have you ever lost heart in a project? You have put in hundreds of hours and for sure you've started something interesting, but then something went wrong. The work stopped. It dies.
Now you panic like an animal caught in a trap. There is no way to escape! After panic comes depression. You go to bed and refuse to talk to anyone. The depression finally lifts and you determine to start something new.
Yay, you are working again, but you aren't doing what you wanted to do. The bonfire of creative energy has gone out, and you are going through the motions. How do you ignite the work? How do you return to your former state? How do you rise from the dead?
You are broken. But hear this, death is not an end. It is a place of transformation.
There is no going back. Forward is the only choice. The best thing to do is to purposely let go. Don't glance back with regret at all the time you've lost. Nothing artistic is truly ever lost.
Imagine that your work is a little boat that you shove onto an ocean. You let it go. Ignore any voice that belittles you. Shut the mouth of failure. Wrap up in a blanket of silence. This isn't a time to flood your mind with negative self-talk. This is the time to listen to what messages the universe sends.
This is enforced time away from your work, not random hiding. It is a time of silence of the stars, of the sea, of the city, of the soul. In this silence, you will begin to hear voices speak. The voices will bring you new ideas, new directions, and new faces. You will collect these thoughts like sticks. Don't act on them. Collect.
Then will come the glorious day.
The work will begin to burn. A spontaneous combustion of all the tinder you've filled your life with flares up. The bonfire roars to life. The work becomes relevant again, but better.
This is the artist's journey. Embrace it.
A doodle for you.
A quote for your pocket.
God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.Vance Havner
Have you ever noticed that you've slid into negative self-talk. It's the bane of my existence. Here's the stupid voice inside my head. "I'm not very successful. I'm not doing a good job. My art isn't making me millions or even enough to by a soda, hence I'm worthless. I don't have an army of adoring fans hence my work is worthless."
Oh, it goes on and on. If my own voice isn't enough, I can add to it hundreds of voices that have had negative things to say about my work. From it's not distinctive enough, to it's mid-list derivative, or too similar to xyz, and more. What is a poor artist supposed to do to find worth?
Here it is folks: I'm in control of my self-talk. No one else. I have to whisper over and over again. Worthy. Worthy. Worthy. I'm in control of my life. I have to choose to breathe and enjoy my art. Let the expression fill me to my pores. It's also important that I drive defining myself.
Here's the real deal self-talk. I'm as worthy as every star that shines. I chose not to repeat the bullies, enemies, and the jealous. Instead I embrace: WORTHY.
I whisper to myself. I am worthy. My work is worthy. It is precious. I am part of the good guys. I'm not searching for gifts. I am one of the gifts. My days are set aside. I will give of my creative energy until my lungs give out and can't give any more.
That stuff I'm whispering to myself is for you too. You are worthy. WORTHY. That negative stuff is not the truth. Speak the truth, ye seekers of art and expression. Your imagination rattles the present reality and makes the next one possible. Imagine, worthy ones
Here is a doodle.
Here is a quote for your pocket.
Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, seek to be worthy of being known. Confucius