Thursday, October 28, 2010

Perfection?!?! Or Wabi Sabi?

In the infancy of my artistic career. I was overly concerned about making the 'perfect' piece. It had to be perfect; in fact, I would not show any of my work (writing or art) to anyone until it was PERFECT!

This phase lasted a long time perhaps too long.

Until one day, a college professor who happened to be a former Zen monk, engaged in thought provoking conversation about art (writing/life.) as recounted from the pages of my sketchbook:

  • ·      Know the rules.
  • ·      Learn to apply them to the best of your ability.
  • ·      Marking art is the blending of the soul and pulse of the cosmos, manifested in physical form.
  • ·      Be mindful of what you choose bring into the world.
  • ·      Understand nothing in this world is perfect-everything has a flaw.

Years later, I would come to know what his insights as, Wabi Sabi, which means flawed beauty is a Zen philosophy.  
Wabi Sabi is used primarily to describe art but it can be applied to writing. In fact, this philosophy has brought me comfort in my writing process.
 I love to write but I must confess it is difficult for me to express myself in complete sentences. From a young age, I had a series of teachers telling me, “you can’t write…. you are not a good writer… this paper is not good enough….”
Not once did any of my teachers in elementary, junior, or high school, sit my down and work with me on writing. I had a love, a passion, drive to do it but I was a not “liked” student in class.
I learned the writing skills I do have from practicing, reading other people’s work, Death Pixies and mentors.
What may take someone a few minutes, will take me hours. I’ve come to realize that I will never have prefect grammar; spelling or punctuation but I do know good copy editors (DP and other people). Whom I lovingly give a bouquet of red pens and tell them, ‘show no mercy.’
My manuscripts are returned looking like a valentine vomited on the page but I don’t mind. I know many of the ‘great’ authors did not have perfect grammar or punctuation, Jane Austin, the Bronte Sisters etc . What they did have was: a strong story; commitment to penning the story from beginning to end; an editor to clean up the page.
The best advice I can give all of you is:

  • ·      Write the story you want to write.
  • ·      Get it all out on paper.
  • ·      Revise to the best of your ability.
  • ·      Have your story critiqued and edited by others.
  • ·      Revise again.
  • ·      Send it out.
  • ·      Let go of perfection.
  • ·      Accept your work for its beauty and its faults.

Best of luck to you all!!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Drunken Sage

Over the weekend, I planned out a couple of creative projects to work on over the next few months. I woke up this morning jazzed about bringing them to life but as the day pressed on, I became discouraged. My creative flow seemed to evaporate into the world around me.

In a state of utter frustration, I had a silent conversation with the Universe that went a little something like this - I don't know what you want from me!? Our relationship is manic, you give me great ideas and in a manner of moments all inspiration is gone. Empty. Frankly, I am tired of being empty. When I get home tonight, I am going to sit. Simply sit, in silence.

Tonight, I was on my way home from French lessons, on the bus I sat next to gentlemen who smelled like a distillery. We began talking, actually, he began talking to me. Asking me a bunch of rapid fire questions, in the mist of answers I began telling him about my ideas and my frustrations. One I was done with my monologue.

There was a long pause.

 He held up his arm, "you see this?" He shoves his arm in my face.
 "These are goosebumps. You have a special connection to the heartbeat of society. You have to use your artistic visions. Now, I am not trying to be all philosophical but I am speaking the truth. Most people get caught up in the cycle of the mundane. Us visionaries are destined for a different life. Not that we are any better everyone else but we've simply made different choices. You've found your talent. Now find your tribe."

I sat for a moment stunned - speechless, humbled.
I thanked Tom (that is his name). Told him to have a great evening. His witty reply, "I already have..."

The moment I walked in the door, I took my first 'action step' to bring my project into reality.

As I work away - I think, how poetic that guidance was delivered in the form of harmless drunken sage on a bus......

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Talent is a universal gift, but it takes a lot of courage to use it. Don't be afraid to be the best....."

Paulo Coelho - The Winner Stands Alone

Thursday, October 7, 2010



I feel really compelled to write about this topic. I was inspired, a couple weeks ago, when listening web cast from Robert Ohotto, had entire an show dedicated to this topic, which I was moved to tears. Not in a bad way, in a “ I really needed to hear that message.”

I am going to speak to this topic from an artistic point of view.

Creating art (writing, painting, graphic design) is very solitary act. Hours upon hours are spent in a space creating. One trap, that I find myself falling into is, blocking out my peers, friends, family because I am so focused on the creation of my work. Long periods of time spent in this space, can leave to intense isolation and melancholy (or artistic funk). Humans are naturally social creatures. Whether we want to confess it or not we need human contact and interaction.

What I advise artists and non-artists, a like, get out at least couple times a month, for an hour. (I throw this out as a goal to start with especially for those of you work, have families, go to school or heavily booked.)To connect with other like minds. If you are writer, find a writers group. If you are a painter, find a painting group etc. Find your tribe.

There is a reason that rock groups exist, it is more difficult to rock out by yourself…..

I cannot begin to rave enough about the benefits about being in a writers groups. You have support, a group people to journey with you through the process. A place to talk “geek speak.” More importantly, it allows you to take a time out from being solitary and connect.