Tag Archives: Writing

Stream of Consciousness: Forget Professionalism, Remember Writing

Arts Admin and fellow Blogger, Samantha Rodin, and I got around to talking about art recently (of course!). My favourite part of hanging out with Sam is being able to meet with another artist that is so inspired and incorporates art into every waking moment of her life. When I speak with her about art, I can speak to her candidly as both an artist and a friend. Recently I was talking with her about my recent views on art in everyday life when she said, “What you’re talking about now sounds like a good idea for a YorkScene blog post.”

“Well, sure,” I said, but hesitantly. I haven’t written a blog post in a really long time. Actually, I haven’t written much of anything in a really long time. I am ashamed to admit this in the face of other, more prolific writers, but a blog post of 500 words often takes me at the very least three days to complete. One day to draft and edit, a second day to edit again, and then another day to edit… and then usually I sit on it for about a week thinking: Is this really what I want to say? I don’t want to put anything out there that I’d be ashamed of tomorrow. I want pieces that are concise and well written – as perfect and professional as I can possibly make them. The result of trying to create a perfect piece every time? Hardly any pieces are completed.

No more of that. After much discussion, I’ve decided, at least for the moment, to let go of concerns with perfection, portfolios, and professionalism, and instead just write. To be honest, the thought of writing freely had never dawned on me, and likely wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been able to discuss my fears with Sam. I was too busy thinking: Oh dear, whatever I send out will be out there forever. Once it’s on the Internet, no matter how ashamed I am of it later, I will never be able to take it back or take it away.

Perhaps this is the big problem with art these days: This worry of art as though it’s a business, where each piece you put out is a measure of your worth in a pool of other artists – another thing to add to your portfolio and therefore something that must reflect well on you as a professional. I never entertained any ideas of having an audience when I first started blogging, so I wrote prolifically about everything that came to mind. The result? Often a bunch of garbage. But sometimes, rarely, gems that I would look back on later and think: Wow. Did I write this? Was that me? The reason for these gems is clear. When you produce more, you increase the odds of producing something good. When you only write a little, your chances of happening upon gold become much less.

The problem with looking at writing as a business – a platform, a voice that will echo and echo and follow you for all online eternity – is the fact that you become too worried about being professional to write freely, to take risks, and to say what you want to say. I realize now that it’s not good for me creatively. It’s definitely not good for the publications I write for either, which often have to wait for a long time before I send out anything new.

From now on, I’ll try harder to supress this need for perfection and professionalism and instead say what I’d like to say honestly and frankly. I want to try harder to get back to the basics – to write for writing’s sake.

To be honest, artists like Sam and I who are green and young and are just starting their artistic “careers” (again, that word “career”! I hope to address this idea of real life (careers) vs art in a future post) are at one of the most exciting and frightening points in our lives. Everything is up in the air. Every day we have moments where we think, “Oh my, what am I doing? And why am I doing it? And how will I sustain myself for the rest of my life off of love and passion alone?” Usually when I find a blog that is honest about these fears, I like it and relate to it, though I would never have thought of writing about it myself. Is it professional to confess fear on the Internet? I’m not too sure. But at this point, I’m tossing that question away. Perhaps there is another writer out there who shares these concerns and would find a post about it interesting too. That’s the person I’ll be writing for now.

I find nothing more inspiring than meeting with other artists, whether literary, visual, or musical. Meeting other artists gives me a sense of belonging and reassures me that I am NOT crazy listening to those voices in my head and trying to articulate them in the world somehow. Arts councils thrive on the idea of sharing that most vulnerable part of you, of embracing what you love, and of seeing others embrace what they love too. That is what is most beneficial about them. YorkScene is just another extension of this meeting of minds, and somewhere along the way I forgot about that. I started looking at it as a platform – a place where ideas were stated rather than shared and fostered.

Come back to my artistic roots with me! Somehow I lost myself, but hopefully I’ll find myself again soon. And I look forward to getting feedback from you too.

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THE QUEST FOR HAPPINESS CAN BE IN WRITING

To find happiness we try to connect with our body, tame our ego, resign judgement, conquer fear, and live in the moment. But how can accomplish these things without first examining the sensations in our body, the nature of our ego, the basis of our judgement, and the origin of our fear, and the events that brought us to this moment?

Before we set out on our quest for happiness we need to master Self-Understanding, a vital quality which, in itself, will put a twinkle in our eye and a smile on our face.  And this we can do through writing.

EMPOWER YOURSELF THROUGH YOUR BIO

Writing your story gives you the opportunity to challenge your readers, your talents and social order.

We are all born with the gift of language and communication but unfortunately our words become entombed by political correctness, etiquette and piddly details. Your story will help you to free those words and to experiment with language and ideas, to think limitlessly, to confess, to role-play, to eat dirt, to brag, to gamble, to poke fun at, to empathize, and to create.

As you take off your muzzle and show your teeth you run the risk of tarnishing your reputation, but the good news is – you will be known and revered as being ‘one helluva character who rose to the challenge of telling it like you see it!’

This is your opportunity to break the shackles, walk proudly on centre stage and announce, ‘This is me!’ And as Buddha said, ‘If you don’t like what I have to say, you’re welcome to leave my house (theatre).’

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BOOST YOUR EMOTIONAL SYSTEM BY WRITING

As children we are taught what to say and what to feel by parents, teachers, the parish, and when we grow up spouses, censor boards, friends, governments, bosses and the media flood our brain with propaganda. ‘What should I think?’ and ‘What do I think?’ become a moral and ethical calamity.

When Jackie Kennedy stood stoic at her husband’s funeral the world said, “Wow, what a strong woman she is.” Does this mean that African and Middle Eastern women who shriek and wail at funerals are weak? This scenario is primal, universal: Life. Death. Sorrow. What do you think?

Do not stereotype yourself as you write. It takes more strength to say, ‘I will not do what’s expected, I will do what I need to do’, than it does to conform. Your writing will unearth this strength, which, if used well, will continue to empower you, keeping your emotional system out of conflict and in good health, keeping you focused on the clarity of ‘What do I think?’.

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Gaining Perspective and Expanding Your World as You Write

No two people see things the same way. We all see things from who we are and from where we are. And we are ALL right. This is especially true for siblings.

Many of us float around close to Earth’s surface, lured towards the same temptations, seeking the same pleasures, fearing the same bogeymen. As we write we fire up our air balloon to rise higher and higher, viewing the world from a broader perspective, from our ‘all seeing’ eye, from the writer within.

Writing helps us examine things from different angles and in so doing we learn to understand how others view life as well. Writing broadens our perspective as we begin to observe the

beauty and ugliness around us with our inner eye, our ‘all seeing’ eye. A variety of perspectives widen our field of vision and therefore expand our world.

Writing also defines our optimism and negativity. In a half-filled glass, do we focus on what is gone or on what still remains? As we read our prose we are often struck by patterns of contentment or resentment.

Another perspective gained through writing is that inside each of us is a child and a parent who are both standing by, waiting to participate in our creative process, and after expressing our frustrations or sadness through writing the parent has the last word as they offer comfort and wisdom.

So unlock the chains of the earth and rise to new heights to discover that there are many sides to our story, and to every story.

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