Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

2/24/41. We must think of ourselves as a fertile land on which to draw. And if we do not, we grow rotten, like an unmilked cow. And if we leave something unexploited it dies within us wasted. But to tax one’s powers always at their maximum potentiality—this is the only way to live at all, in the proper sense of the word.

Patricia Highsmith, “Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks: 1941-1995.″ Anna von Planta (Editor). (Liveright, November 16, 2021)


Notes:

Then one day, something happens

“We work on feelings. On beliefs. On behaviors. Letting go of the old, acquiring the new. We work and work and work. We practice. We struggle through. We go from one extreme to the other, and sometimes back through the course again. We make a little progress, go backward, and then go forward again. It may all seem disconnected. It may not sound like a harmonious, beautiful piece of music—just isolated notes. Then one day, something happens. We become ready to play with both hands, to put the music together.”

~ Melody Beattie, from Achieving Harmony (October 1, 2017)


Notes:

  • Image via Mennyfox55.
  • Inspired by a share by Beth @ Alive on All Channels: “At 7 a.m. all my voices start talking inside my head, and when it reaches a certain pitch I jump out and trap them before they’re gone. Or I shower and then the voices talk. You solve problems not by thinking directly of them but allowing them to ferment in their own time. You feed yourself. Make sure you have all the information, whether it’s aesthetic, scientific, mathematical, I don’t care what it is. Then you walk away from it and let it ferment. You ignore it and pretend you don’t care. Next thing you know, the answer comes.” –Ray Bradbury, Learning is solitary pursuit for Bradbury by Luaine Lee

6:00 a.m. Let’s go.

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I often can’t put a finger on what drives me to create. What force drags me to the studio at 6 a.m.? What pulls me out of bed in the middle of the night to jot down a story idea or melody? I have always had something to say or show. Most of it, if not all of it, has been only my flawed attempts to represent truth. But it’s been a story that has unfolded over the course of my life. I just follow it, as it keeps me busy and well-worked.

— Scott Avett, “My Search For Truth”


Photo: Mennyfox55

Not as well as Yo-Yo Ma, but still, to touch the hem of the gown that is art itself

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Why is it that we understand playing the cello will require work, but we attribute writing to the magic of inspiration? Chances are, any child who stays with an instrument for more than two weeks has some adult making her practice, and any child who sticks with it longer than that does so because she understands that practice makes her play better and that there is a deep, soul-satisfying pleasure in improvement. If a person of any age picked up the cello for the first time and said, “I’ll be playing in Carnegie Hall next month!” you would pity their delusion, yet beginning fiction writers all across the country polish up their best efforts and send them off to The New Yorker. Perhaps you’re thinking here that playing an instrument is not an art itself but an interpretation of the composer’s art, but I stand by my metaphor. The art of writing comes way down the line, as does the art of interpreting Bach. Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means that to get to the art you must master the craft. If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say. Write the story, learn from it, put it away, write another story. Think of a sink pipe filled with sticky sediment. The only way to get clean water is to force a small ocean through the tap. Most of us are full up with bad stories, boring stories, self-indulgent stories, searing works of unendurable melodrama. We must get all of them out of our system in order to find the good stories that may or may not exist in the freshwater underneath. […]

Does this sound like a lot of work without any guarantee of success? Well, yes, but it also calls into question our definition of success. Playing the cello, we’re more likely to realize that the pleasure is the practice, the ability to create this beautiful sound; not to do it as well as Yo-Yo Ma, but still, to touch the hem of the gown that is art itself… I got better at closing the gap between my hand and my head by clocking in the hours, stacking up the pages. Somewhere in all my years of practice, I don’t know where exactly, I arrived at the art. […]

Forgiveness. The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life. […]

I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.

~ Ann Patchett. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Harper Perennial, 2014)


Source: Brain Pickings – The Workhorse and the Butterfly: Ann Patchett on Writing and Why Self-Forgiveness Is the Most Important Ingredient of Great Art

Right Brain Magic

This was the external firm’s third pass at showing their creative pitch. The prior two passes left me inspired. But, they fell short. Like that beautiful pair of Italian shoes that didn’t fit just quite right, it was “off” a wee bit. The team came back a week later. I was expecting a tweak. A tuck. A pinch.

He carried Round Three in a large black portfolio. He placed it carefully on the table. He said good morning. And set the stage as to the evolution of the various creative works that had been previously presented.

He slowly untied the strings on the case. He continued speaking. Our eyes moved to the portfolio. He paused for dramatic effect before opening the flaps. And then walked us through his team’s new recommendation…offering a complete overhaul.

Striking colors on large glossy poster boards.
First One. Then another. A third.
Followed by several smaller sizes carrying a similar theme.
Hand-crafted calligraphic lettering tastefully presenting content.
Our eyes drawn to the images…hummingbirds to nectar.

They nailed it.

I came across this video (unrelated to my experience) and it reminded me of the magical moment last week.

Beautiful. Intelligent. Captivating. Genius.

All those Right-Brainers out there, we Left-Brainers applaud you. Bravo!


My Keynote Address from Mike Brookes on Vimeo.


I do it for me. That’s it. That’s it.

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“I do it for me and like-minded people. That’s it. That’s it. My career, I look at it in a Darwinian framework. I’m going to do exactly what I want, and I’m going to survive or I’m not. I’m not going to pander, I’m not going to change things, I’m not going to do focus groups. I’ll live and die by the sword. I don’t care. Because I couldn’t live with myself…Everything I’ve done has been existential. Everything, really. Everything is always about, ‘Am I living a good life? Am I making the most of my life?'”

Ricky Gervais


Clips from GQ.com (Note “R” rated for vulgar language): Chris Heath on Gervais: “…I think there is a sense that someone who seemed like one of us, and on our side, may have slipped his moorings.” [Read more…]

Would you like to be inspired? Here’s What You Should Do…

“If you’ve ever seen a painting, or watched a movie, or read a novel, or enjoyed a performance, or followed a television show that moved you on some essential level, you probably wondered: What inspired that? We’ve wondered that, too. So we asked. What follows are the answers, in all their varied glory, to that question. In part it’s an investigation into the enigmatic nature of creative inspiration. (Which, it turns out, is often not so enigmatic. Step 1: Work. Step 2: Be frustrated. Step 3: Repeat.)”

Read how inspiration fires for Alicia Keys, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Chabon, Quentin Tarantino, Al Pacino, Junot Diaz and others in The New York Times Magazine: Inspiration Issue, September 30, 2012

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