I can remember where I was when I realized I was a project-driven artist.
My wife and I were having dinner at a local pub-estaurant we love and I was talking about how my day job as a corporate sales trainer was good, but not artistically fulfilling. Sure, I was thankful for the job, the pay and the people I worked with and the trainees I’d helped, but a part of me was needed a little nurturing.
That part wasn’t being fed or watered. I felt it inside me grasping for breath.
My wife mentioned that she thought we were ‘project people’. That is, we like to birth an idea, cultivate it until it can stand on its own and then release it and move onto the next project. Sales training was the opposite of that concept and though I enjoyed several parts of the job, I wanted more.
I wanted to contribute more. I wanted to see the process through. And I wanted it for myself.
That last part…the ‘for myself’ was probably the most difficult to come to peace with for me.
Two minutes of great inspiration from the late Vonnegut:
“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
I was having lunch with my co-workers recently and we ended up talking about how shiny the floors are in our company’s bathrooms.
So right now you’re thinking two things: 1) How did that topic come up and/or 2) I’ve noticed that too and it’s disturbing.
You may even say to yourself (with a posh British accent) “why, on such a high-brow blog about creativity, is the author stooping to publish such low-brow humor?” You may never get an answer to that question.
Thus, we begin with #1…
#1 – Shiny Bathroom Floors
Shiny bathroom floors are upsetting, disturbing and borderline pornographic. If we can pick the finish for our printed photos, we should certainly be able to make a decree that all bathroom floors be standardized matte.
Attributing fellow artists’ accomplishments to anything but work ethic, desire to learn and dedication is a grave mistake for our own creativity.
Yet, it’s easy to fall into this dishonoring thinking pattern.
Would we think/speak this way with any other occupations or hobbies?
He’s a natural at building houses. He was born that way.
She just knows accounting. I don’t know how but she’s just got that “it factor’.
He’s so lucky at writing software and getting it to the market.
Ridiculous, right? Then why do we sometimes think/speak this way about the work and success of our fellow creatives? Somehow it feels right (or good) for us to downplay the work of others and emphasize luck instead. Continue reading “Degrading Other Creatives”
I get wildly inspired when I see a brilliant comic perform.
Some of my favorites are Brian Regan, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan and Ellen Degeneres–they perform observational humor and do so without the spicy language of many of their colleagues and that takes great skill.
When I watch them perform, I think of how brillant the writing is and often start to picture myself writing and performing just like them. The conversation I have with myself goes something like this:
(Andrew, a mid-thirties dad-to-be, sitting in his family room, watching Jim Gaffigan perform his ‘Mr. Universe’ piece on Netflix)
JIM: (on TV): Has your mother ever made anything as good as a McDonald’s fry? Not even close. We lie to ourselves when we eat at McDonald’s fries. Oh, they are so thin, they couldn’t be fattening. You ever eat too many McDonald’s fries? Of course not. There is never enough of them. There’s always that moment when you’re eating McDonald’s fries really. What happened? Where did they go? Then you search, scrunching for the fry crumbs. Oh that’ just a piece of paper from the straw, but it was touching the fry so…
ANDREW: (On couch) I could do that. I live. I think. I write. I perform. That guy makes a ton of money just talking about McDonalds and hot pockets.