I can’t get the line of the Ukulele Anthem out of my head. Amanda Palmer sings, “Quit the bitching on your blog, and stop pretending art is hard.” It’s a great song, but something about that line specifically has stuck with me for, like, months.
There’s the song, if you haven’t heard it. Holy fuck, it so fantastic.
The line gave me pause I think because I remember a time when I would have been really angry about it. I would have gone, “Yeah, okay, let’s all pretend this is easy. Right. ARTISTS SUFFER.”
And now I’m like, “She’s right.” Simple as that.
When did art get complicated? When did we look at it as something that is a cause for suffering and anxiety and worry? And not just the occasional “I’m a fraud” kind of worry, but the paralysis of not working on anything, of not doing anything because we’re gripped with indecision. Because we are obsessed with the questions of “who will even read this?” or “why would the world even want this?”
At some point, I think I just got tired of constantly not doing things. Or, worse, taking all the precious time I had to make those things and instead griping about how difficult it was.
So I quit bitching. I quit pretending that everything had to be polished and perfect. I just made shit. I’m still making shit. It’s awesome.
Try it. It may save your life.
Holy crap, guys, is it seriously 2016? Oh God, I typed 2015 there originally. It’s already too much for me. But don’t get me wrong, 2015 was kind of crazy. Here are the big five awesome things that happened to yours truly this year. My Five Favorites of 2015 (in no specific order) are…
- The Travel Weekend, in which I went to Bard to see Neil Gaiman and then drove to DC to see Amanda Palmer the following night. She signed my hippo. It was magical.
- My First Book Event, in which I read from my poetry chapbook, Pickled Miracles, at Rickert & Beagle in Pittsburgh. I also sold custom poetry.
- Our First House, in which my husband and I bought a house in Pittsburgh. It was one of the most stressful processes I’ve ever gone through, but now…we own a freaking house.
- Ask Me Another, in which I was a participant on the NPR quiz show. Such fun. I didn’t win, but it was totally worth it.
- Crafts, in which my visual art game became stronger. I did monthly doodles, photography, felting, papercrafts…it’s been fun to have something more tactile to balance my writing.
Honorable mentions: The Chuck Palahniuk and Rainbow Rowell events, Picklesburgh, Welcome to Night Vale, Mudderella, the Priory Hotel, the Pittsburgh Botanical Garden, NaNoWriMo
Has this year been a journey? Absolutely. But even though that was my word of the year, it’s not over yet. Is it ever?
Tomorrow: the word for this year and what I have planned.
This weekend I drove from Pittsburgh to Annandale-on-Hudson to Maryland and back to Pittsburgh.
In Northern PA, I passed alternating signs for rabies clinics and llama farms.
I stopped in Scranton to go to the Mall in Steamtown, hoping for an interesting small-town experience that would make me think of one of my favorite shows. Not so much. But it’s a story, and that is what counts.
I saw Neil Gaiman talk to Laurie Anderson about art and personal experience and creativity. I talked to people from Bard College, and I was struck by their kindness and their welcoming campus. The talk ended with a question I had submitted for Q&A; I had asked for Neil and Laurie to talk about their creative processes. I was expecting something about their day-to-day creativity, but instead listened as Laurie talked about her next project, how it was born out of tragedy, and how she was trying to push for legislation that would help soldiers decompress after active service. It was amazing and moving and very, very real.
In DC, I saw Amanda Palmer laugh and cry and sing about how fucking scary it is to face life. I didn’t get a chance to tell her how much I get scared of becoming boring, too. I didn’t get to tell her how much it meant for me to hear her admit that she was terrified of what lay ahead. I didn’t get to tell her how grateful I was for her music, for her experience, for her strength. I just told her that she was going to be an amazing mother. And she smiled tiredly and said, “I’m going to try.”
I stayed with my amazing aunt who I feel closer and closer to every time I see her. I drove home in beautiful, glorious spring.
It was amazing. I’m so happily exhausted.
I feel like the impending new year is an injection I’m getting. It’s coming, and no matter how many times I try to yell, “I’M NOT READY,” the universe refuses to listen to me.
And when they put me in the ground
I’ll start pounding the lid
Saying I haven’t finished yet
I still have a tattoo to get
That says I’m living in the moment
— “In My Mind” by Amanda Palmer
Ah, Valentine’s Day! A special time of the year when sweethearts do what sweethearts are supposed to do: throw money at each other and make the people who work with them nauseous! But no, really, I like Valentine’s Day. It took me a good 10 years to start getting behind it, eschewing my black clothing and glowering persona for a, you know, positive attitude.
Now, as my gift to all of you, here is a list of 5 Valentines for Writers: things to watch, listen to, enjoy and appreciate for it’s important message about twue wuv.
1. (500) Days of Summer: Stop shrieking! I hear you out there. “This isn’t appropriate! They say in the first five minutes that it’s not a love story!” While that is true, I feel that this movie is the epitome of a love story’s caricature: the sweeping joy, the disgusting infatuation, the devastating falling apart and then…hope.
Also, the soundtrack is pretty amazing.
2. The Fault in Our Stars: I recommend the audiobook, as I really enjoy listening to Kate Rudd read to me. It’s a cancer book, with all the things that make a cancer book a cancer book…there’s even a cancer book in it! Pretty meta, right? It’s YA, but it’s so beautifully written that through about half of it, you forget. And that sounds like a way to go, but…uh…yeah, you won’t actually stop reading/listening anyway. It’s that good.
I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
3. “The Bed Song” by Amanda Palmer: don’t get just this for your Valentine, because you’ll look cheap. Get the whole album it comes off of.
Sorry it’s a boring video, but just go with it.
4. Chocolate or an Edible Arrangement: who doesn’t love these things? I refuse to be clever here. They are delicious. People deserve these.
5. Eat, Pray, Love: either the book or the movie or both. Oh God, stop rolling your eyes. I’m actually not recommending this because of the love story snuck in at the end, although that’s nice. No, the real reason is that the deepest, most meaningful truth in this story is how much you are worthy of love. You deserve the right to be so in love with your life that you lose yourself in it.