My process

A recipe for success?

  1. Nap
  2. Have an existential crisis along the lines of “I will never create work again!”
  3. Frantically begin planning all of the projects over several notebooks, spreadsheets, text conversations, and chewed fingernails
  4. Plan to move away somewhere far where no one knows you and get a real job in a post office or cafe
  5. Make tea and soberly look out the window to see which idea comes to mind first, boil more water and refine
  6. Do the work, in small steps, that don’t require too much fore thought, but that make logical sense, until it starts to become too exciting to put down
  7. Go on a bunch of dates to try to overcome your nervous energy by channeling it into a bunch of new possibilities instead of focusing on the task at hand
  8. The thing is starting to look more like a thing! That you can tell people about! Time to invite in collaborators! Probably people you went on dates with in step 7
  9. Become morbidly depressed over the state of the world, the state of the work, and the sorry state of yourself. Decide to quit everything and go back to step 4
  10. Breathe, do some yoga, maybe eat a food, read a book by an author you adore
  11. Look at the thing you have created, look for what is missing, fill it with your love & excitement to share with the people you care about
  12. Share it in one wild beautiful attempt to transcend all the other drudgery and escape the inevitability that you will wind up returning to step 1 in a matter of hours

Rinse and repeat.

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5x where the mystery begins

A new list of insightful pondering.

Enjoy

  1. Ray Bradbury on Writing, Emotion vs. Intelligence, and the Core of Creativity via Brain Pickings. Set aside a half hour to listen to the entire interview, it’s beautiful to hear such verve for life.
  2. My very kind friend d’j sent me this beautiful video of Lydia Lunch on the cultural history of No Wave it gave me shivers
  3.  Fruit for Feminism video shared via  Laura McNaughton. I found to be a very soothing and reassuring video which I return to often when anxious.
  4. The Empty Brain via shared with me by Sarah Flood. I’ve found myself often returning to the ideas of this article and re-examining how I understand myself and the world around me.
  5. The Intelligence of Emotions: Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on How Storytelling Rewires Us and Why Befriending Our Neediness is Essential for Happiness via Brain Pickings. Spent a very fruitful evening in long conversation with a dear friend about ideas in this vein of how we are responsible for crafting our own life narrative.
  6. Finally a gentle reminder for each of us Is it selfish to follow your bliss? via Marlo Johnson
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5x

I will be entering the studio this weekend for our third devising intensive with the Dinner Tables Theatre Collective. After a long week of illness and mental fatigue I need to recharge my creative juices, so I’ve gathered a few links to things that are currently inspiring me.

Enjoy

  1. Interview with Helen Rice and Joseph Nissenboim via The Great Discontent
  2. Almudena Toral: Focusing My Energy via She Does Podcast
  3. Why Metaphor Matters via the Banff Centre
  4. Station Wagon via Kay the Aquanaut and Maki
  5. A Classical Guitarist’s Assuring Account of Creative Homecoming and Overcoming Imposter Syndrome via Brain Pickings

 

 

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Dreaming of Dear Devotion

I had a dream that I was living in a very old house all mahogany and brass. A house full of gentlemen with business just out of sight. Where every ornament in the house carried weight of hundreds of years of legacy. Each handshake would last a lifetime. I played music even though I knew not how to play it. On a large, beautiful twelve-string instrument that looked like a cross between a sitar and a viola in deep mahogany with gold accents. I plucked out notes, made the shape of a D, I scratched my fingernails up and down the strings like Okkyung Lee. As I pulled out these low strange sounds from it I began to speak “Fair is foul and foul is fair” whispering it into the f-hole so it resonated deep inside of the instrument. As the dissonant sound grew to a crescendo, I flipped the instrument over and began to bang out a rough and steady dirge and sang high and effervescent a hymnal from memory “A Light On High” that was chipper and girlish, almost, save for the heavy dirge rhythm underneath. Then I returned to plucking the belly of the instrument as my husband returned home from important work. I played him the roughly hewen melody I had carved out. At first it pleased him. The sexual energy I had harnessed was great as I channeled this huge magnetic creative force towards him, but as I started to play and scratch and moan he became uninterested. What would the guests think? He was tired from long days work. Be careful that I not wreck this important instrument in the sea of important ornaments. It was not to be played like that. I carried on anyways as he disappeared into the party talking in serious low voices to his father about impending business deals that must not disturb the rest of the house, but would surely impact future generations for years to come. Men would do better to wear their grievances on their sleeves I thought as I played mournfully away. Simultaneously filled with power and grace and transforming my longing into a beacon to call to me the power of Yoko Ono, Okkyung Lee, of Julie Taymor, of Tanya Tagaq of women that were not afraid to create, and create ugly, create sad. This was for them.

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Hope, or something like it

We are living in the post-follow-your-dreams era where most career advice has a dark cloud of the 2008 economic collapse, escalating student debt, and low graduate employment rates. “Push forward, with caution” is the anxious whispers from academic halls, and even career consultants meant to inspire feel the need to temper their motivation: “Do what you are passionate about so long as it is valuable and you are good at it.” The message is clear your passion is no currency for success and happiness, don’t risk it all on a dream.

The problem with this advice is it fails to take into consideration that no one has ever started out “good at” something. Passion is what carries you through those long hours of practice makes perfect, and keeps you up late at night solving for x when the average person would have given up and gone to bed. It’s creativity’s high voltage elixir . Without it you get xerox scanned clip art and slapped-together, good-enough solutions.

It’s likely that this advice is well intentioned, as the road to passion is long and arduous. It often will seem to move so slowly that everything appears at a standstill, and then suddenly darts ahead at lightening speed so that you struggle to keep pace with it. You will make mistakes. At first you might stumble or get turned around, and the path forward will not always be clear. You may even believe that these mistakes are because you are mistaken to follow this fool’s passion, but if you are committed to learning from the path your passion leads you on then you will begin to learn the patterns of it’s behavior, to track it like a wild beast, and perhaps even to lead the hunt to discover new opportunities that ignite your passion.

You are the keeper of your passion you must take good care of it so that it will take good care of you. Passion must have room to stretch it’s legs, to make a mess occasionally, to sing from the rafters at all hours of the night. It can be part jealous lover, part needy child, and part stern master. You must wholly invest in your mental and physical health, and your emotional and spiritual well-being in order to become the tool your passion uses to reach the world.

Often those that are committed followers of their passion say that they would not wish this life upon anyone, there are easier ways to make a buck, but if it is calling you then you know that it is not about making a buck. It is no small task to commit to living a passionate life. This is what those weary eyed career councilors are trying to warn you. It may never, and probably won’t, pay off in wild success and a steady pay cheque. The fastest way to unhappiness is to follow fool’s gold into the belief  that you will earn your way into passion for your life. If you just work a little harder, wait a little longer. If you wait to put your passion first it will shrivel up and die before it is given a chance to prove valuable.

Too many people run away from their passion out of fear of what it will ask of them, but it is not healthy to suppress a force so powerful. It will wear you down into the dirt until there is barely anything left. It is then that sparkle of passion shines the most brightly in order to lead us back to ourselves.

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Fierce

Today is the kind of day to throw an entire bucket of paint at the wall and roll around in it.

Today is the kind of day to squeeze a passion fruit in my fist just to feel the juices run.

Today is the kind of day to smash a stained glass window to make new patterns on the pavement.

Today is the kind of day to cut open my own eyeball so that the other can see what is inside of it.

Today is the kind of day to holler new verses from roof tops, and imagine new ways to out run tomorrow.

Today is the kind of day where my creative energy presents itself with such urgency and aggression that if I don’t find a way to channel it into the work it will burst out the seems and start brawling in the streets.

It is days like these that make me understand why so many artists have taken their own lives, or become addicts trying to cope with the consequences of living with too much of a passion and not enough of an outlet.

It is a creativity so fierce it is enough to drive a person mad.

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