Having ideas for me is easy. Ideas are just thoughts and who know where they come from, but they are impossible to stop. Turning an idea into an actual thing, executing it, manifesting it, that’s very hard. Nothing just comes, everything has to be implemented.
I have a voice in my head that plays devil’s advocate on any idea we are interested in pursuing. This analytical character loves to quickly game out our idea and get right to pointing out potential problems. While we struggle to maintain enthusiasm and even memory for the initial idea, they rapidly innumerate the pitfalls and problems we are likely to experience. Knowing us as well as we know ourselves, they are particularly adept at seeing where our weaknesses are going to come into play and reminding us how ideas didn’t work out in the past due to poor follow through and systemic indecision. There is only one way around this fellow, stop telling him anything and just get to it.
Take any part of the idea and implement something. If you want a blog, create a site on WordPress. If you want to draw, get some paper. Or even better, just draw something. On anything and hang it up where you will see it multiple times a day. Or maybe it’s a much bigger idea like turn Sidewalk Faces into a book, sell prints online, have a show. What do you do then?
The first idea, the initiating big idea, is not really a thing at all, it’s just a trail marker at the beginning of the hike. It signifies that you are at the beginning and should go forward. The good ideas come after you have taken the first action. They are more useful than the ideas the critic was responding to because those ideas were theoretical. The ideas that follow an action are much easier to implement because they are connected to something tangible. If you signed up with WordPress for a blog and then wrote a post it wouldn’t be too difficult to have an idea about a second post. And way less difficult to write it because all you would have to do is log in and go. The trick is to do the idea that has a motor behind it, the one you most truly want to do, not the one you think you should do. Not the one the critic says will add up to something.
I started this blog six years ago, before I had made my first Sidewalk Face. I didn’t know what it was for. I just wanted to write more. I wanted to see what I would write if I gave myself a place to do it. I am almost at one hundred posts! I now know what I like to write about and if I am able to conceptualize a book, I have some written content to play with. As for selling my work, I am so close. Stay tuned! Just don’t tell my inner critic what we are up to!
I think there are ways you are supposed to do things, like post to your blog regularly and not erratically. Reasonable, right? I get it. But here’s what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna act like I might die any minute* and I don’t want regrets. So I’m going to publish a lot when I write a lot, and not when I don’t.
Why am I saying this? Sometimes I come back to the blog after an absence and find fully written posts that aren’t published. Why didn’t I get the ball over the finish line? Maybe because I thought it would be nice to parse things out. Well isn’t that sweet and thoughtful. No! It’s an excuse. It’s fear of running out. I probably thought I would publish when I had a second post written and ready to go. It’s a weird kind of creativity hoarding. Uncertain about future abundance, I hoard what I have in case I need it more later than now. That sounds positively ridiculous. As sunlight is to germs, consciousness is to bad ideas. I am glad I just discovered and named this stupid problem.
So dear reader, I want you to know I am a sporadic writer. Sometimes I have the time and sometimes I don’t. I hope that doesn’t bother you too much. I do plan to continue and I hope you enjoy what you’re reading. I am open to hearing suggestions. I write what I want to work out in my own mind but I am always thinking of you because I am writing for a reader. I want it to resonate, be engaging and hopefully creatively inspiring. I appreciate you and your time and I want to offer something worthy of it.
Now please go do something you really want to do. Right now!
*I know nothing about my mortality. No worries! It’s just an idea I use to motivate my actions.
Can’t believe you missed part 1, the essay everyone is talking about even though it was written 5 years ago. Link at the bottom. Catch up!
While looking through old posts, this title made me smile. Yep! That still sounds right. I think I will elaborate.
Let’s start with the point of it all, as in is there one? Is there ever a good or necessary reason to organize cooked spaghetti? I can’t think of one. Just put it on the plate and eat, right? I’ve never thought of my belly as an organizational device before but sure, that’s a good if temporary place to store cooked noodles while we strip them of nutrients. Otherwise, if there is too much, put it in Tupperware. It’s organized in the sense that it’s not co-mingling with other leftovers and I can find it again. But if I had to organize it strand by strand, it would be really hard and seem pointless. Just like art!
I think you know I don’t really find art pointless but surely you have had the experience of looking hard for this particular point and having a hard time locating it. Art is so messy and irrational. Art is mysterious and defiant. Art is useless and compelling. Art is strange and upsetting. Art is for eating, not for organizing. Art is for contemplation not for transaction.
It may be more accurate to say that justifying art making is like organizing limp noodles. It’s so easy to cook spaghetti and it’s pretty to listen to music and draw in a little book or make a face out of an evaporating water splotch on the sidewalk. The harder job to say explain to one’s self why this is a reasonable acitivity. To formulate a coherent, satisfying and convincing argument for why this process should be repeated over and over. To give one’s self a satisfactory explanation for why the resources of time and money are being used to fund so much unnecessary visual detritus.
Let’s say you did organize the heck out of those gelatinous strands of cooked Italian dough. Then what?! Would you be excited if someone very close to you, such as your very own self, informed you it would now become a regular part of the work week. Maybe.
Making the art is easy, understanding the art is hard. Justifying the art is impossible.
I make art because I don’t know how else to deal with reality.