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Do you worry about “the odds”?

I wil be blunt: I think “the odds” are a drink of emotional poison. No one invokes “the odds” who isn’t trying to keep you from committing creativity. For one thing, your odds of succeeding immediately increase if you try succeeding. Your odds of publishing a novel, for example, are a lot higher if you write […]


Are you willing to make bad art?

You say that you only want to make “good” art. Who can blame you? The only problem with making good art is that sometimes, in order to make good art, we have to be willing to make bad art. Styles mature spasmodically. Sometimes we write poorly on our way to writing better. Sometimes we paint […]


Drought

I want to say something about droughts: as painful as they are, they deepen us. When we feel we have “nothing to say” as artists, we are grappling with what it is we do want to say. In struggling to find our sources of inspiration, we find ourselves. Another thing: drought doesn’t disqualify you as […]


Inspiration

Creativity is not something you possess, but someting that expresses through you. You might call that something “inspiration.” The point is, you need to step aside and allow this force to enter. Puccini claimed the ideas for Madame Butterfly were dictated to him by God. I myself have often sensed “higher forces” of inspiration. I sometimes […]


Change

Creativity involves process, and process involves change. The truism we often hear is that we often resist change because change is difficult or change is painful. This is not quite accurate. It is the resistance to change that is difficult or painful. In the same way, it is the resistance to our creativity that causes us […]


Leaping into the dark

Agnes de Mille put it this way: “Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” I like that […]


Originality

It is all too easy to think of art as something we aspire to, an ideal by which to measure our efforts and find them falling woefully short. Well, that is one way to think of art, and God knows we have bludgeoned ourselves with it pretty thoroughly. Our concepts of “great art” and “great […]


Jealousy

Jealousy, I’ve often heard, is a normal human emotion. When I hear that, I think, “maybe your jealousy– not mine.” My jealousy roars in the head, tightens the chest, massages my stomach lining with a cold fist as it searches out the best grip. I have long regarded jealousy as my greatest weakness. Only recently […]


Containment

Speaking for myself, I am wary of what I call too much boast-and-toast talk. You know what I mean…those conversations that begin with “That’s interesting, but what I am working on right now is…” I think it can take the wind out of your sails. It’s like putting your project up for a vote depending […]


Artistic Anorexia

Many artists have an addiction to anxiety in place of art. I think of this as artistic anorexia. Just as those with an eating disorder can become obsessed with not eating, so, too, an artist can become obsessed with not making art. Anxiety builds, and anxiety is addictive. We become habituated to negativity, yet the […]