Amen to that.
- J.K. Rowling, via AdviceToWriters
True. I’d say approximately 50% of the people I work with (as a writer) don’t seem to appreciate the space I need to actually generate the writing. Of course, I’m my own worst enemy. How many times have I looked at my diary and said “yes” to an appointment or meeting that messes with time I’ve put aside for writing? My inner “maker” is constantly battling my inner “manager” (see Paul Graham’s infamous Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule, which I find myself directing people to on a regular basis…)
Happy Birthday Miscellany! This blog turns 3 today. Three (or is that four?) years in the Tumblrsphere. I took a look back over the past few years and yes, it seems my focus hasn’t really changed all that much. From the early days, Miscellany has been a dump for anything I’ve found interesting - no real agenda, just cool links, poems and images, with the odd personal post in between, content pointing toward web/tech, literature, design, illustration, life hacks, inspirational essays/quotes, photography and the odd bit of music. Most of the photography/design I used to post from around the web split off into another site (Before It Disappears), and I even brought my own photography over to Tumblr via ForThen&EverMore. Yes, I’ve made attempts to generate more dedicated writing here over the past year or so, which ironically harks back to the blogging I used to do prior to signing up for a Tumblr account (way too easy to hit that reblog button…), but perhaps the biggest change has been the fragmentation, the different aspects of my interests that have forked off and become their own distinct entities. How do you maintain it all, someone asked? However I can, I replied…
Sigh. I look back and get a little misty eyed. All this content generation and curation - it runs alongside my own creative output, but could it be considered a valid thread in my portfolio of life works? To think of all the books I might produce through the rest of my career - it’s totally conceivable that someone might take an interest in my published work, and seek out everything I’ve ever written, but how many of my “followers” will ever go back through the entirety of my archived posts to gain a critical perspective of how I’ve developed as a blogger/curator? For that matter, how many of them will go back past last week?
The poet Lemn Sissay said somewhere “you’re only as good as the last poem you wrote.” Maybe here, on this screen, with everything else that’s going on, all the other voices clamouring for your attention, this blog is only as good as the last entry I post?
All of that to say, whoever you are, thank you for reading, and here’s to the year ahead. There now follows a party in this blog post, with a soundtrack provided by a perennial favourite - Dimlite. Starts slow, but if you manage to stave off your web-induced ADD, you’ll find it’s a beautiful set. Follow this link to download/télecharger the show, if you like it. Press play…
You say “start up quote”, I say life advice. Take a look through the archive and tell me how many of these quotes CAN’T be applied to your writing or other creative practise.
- Wake up early
- Do the MOST IMPORTANT WORK in the morning
- If it is important – STAY AWAY FROM THE OFFICE
Take one day – which is your day.
- Turn off the phone
- Don’t check email
- Let everyone know you are not available on that day
Keep an active and accessible list of tasks, needs, wishes:
- Make wish and needs visible | accessible | in the office
Utilize Interns and volunteers
- Have them do the little stuff – pass it off
Focus on the big picture
ask others to help you
from greg kelly,
(via facebook) may 24, 2010
via Max Fenton
Interns and volunteers? Dang. Knew I’d forgotten something.
“Everything needs more love. You know how I always hound students about their craft? Craft is love manifest. It’s that love that makes you reject hundreds of bad ideas in the hope that you can come up with something worthy of your subject. It’s that attention to detail that makes you want every little piece to be perfect.”
“Look at it this way, if you’re so suspicious of slickness: slick is easy, right? It’s being rough that’s hard.” He smiled because he knew he was just speaking in opposites. “With slick, you don’t have to say anything. You can get away with pretty all day and most of the goons out there will lap it up. You don’t have to tell the truth, you don’t have to be meaningful, you can just have people revel in how slick that thing is and have them ooh and ahh ‘til kingdom come. But that’s dumb as hell, because you can only go so far with slick, right? It doesn’t lead anywhere good. Once it gets so slick and cool it stops feeling like a person made it, and that essentially eliminates any kind of strong, emotive message.”
Oh. Wow. Frank just hit it out of the park. Poetry students, take note. This WILL turn in up in one of next year’s workshops…
Otherwise known as Real Work vs Busy Work. Busy Work shouts (shrieks?) out for attention and makes you feel bad if you’re not paying attention to its needs at all times. Real Work waits patiently for you to come back, and won’t shout or scream, but the more you pay attention to what it asks you to do, the more lasting your achievements will be.
Couldn’t find a place to file this. Couldn’t figure out whether I wanted to respond to it, or simply archive it. And this probably isn’t the best place - I may never come back to this post. But the original article resonated on a few different levels, at a time when I’m looking at pushing my various different web outlets in different directions, wondering what I can do with them that might be new or fresh. So many iPhone photography blogs, so many online image scrapbooks and “inspirational” image feeds, so many blog-but-not-really Tumblr sites. Time to generate signal, rather than add to the noise. Not just for the sake of being different, but for the sake of doing something that has some kind of value.
I’m currently rereading Stephen Dunn’s Riffs and Reciprocities, which was one of the earliest collections of poetry I ever bought for myself (after the study texts I bought at the end of my last year of school - some Keats, some Shakespeare…) In thinking about what it is that I really liked about that Dunn’s collection of prose pairs when I first found it, and beyond that, the kind of poetry I read and write, I understand that I’m particularly interested in poetry of beauty and insight - poetry that consists of striking imagery (and often linguistic musicality) that offers some tangible, human truth. That’s a drive or aesthetic that runs through much of the art I’m keen to engage with - particularly with regard to photography. Why not push more rigorously to extend the drive to my other output? My own photography, my other writing and blogging…
So why is it that so often we opt for the whizz-bang, all-singing, all-dancing, coffee-making doodads and gizmos? We buy into the things we think we’ll use. The extra functions in that camera. The extra functionality in that invoicing application. All that room to grow. My mother used to buy my shoes 2 or 3 sizes too big when I was a kid. Sound practise, knowing how quickly kids grow out of their clothes, except my feet stopped growing and I was left in my early teens with a collection of shoes I had to stuff with newspaper to be able to wear. These days, half of the software I use has much more functionality than I’ll ever use, and every time I start those applications up, I have a little user guilt, like somewhere in amongst all those menu commands I never look at exists a function that will totally change my life or revolutionise the way I work, if I could just figure out how to use it.
We invest in a thing’s potential, rather than what is. Sometimes, of course, that’s a good thing - there are always things to learn, and improving your work flow is never a bad thing, as long as you’re getting things done. Sometimes, however, you just have to bow to reality, and master the best (read: most appropriate and best suited) tools for you at that particular time.
Whatever excuse you can come up with for why you’re settling for less is probably not good enough. It’s intensely draining to give up on your dreams and you’ll not look kindly back at yourself for treading water.
Are you working on your best idea right now?” -
(via Nine Days Off)