It’s all the same.
I’ve been doing this thing off and on that you all may have noticed if you’ve been here a while. If I’m feeling awesomely motivated, I try to set tasks at the beginning of the month that are ’30 (fill in the blank).’ This month, I’m doing these things:
Let’s get started!
“Be kind to people. That’s what I’ve done for three hundred years.” Sergio stuck his hands into his jean pockets, fingering loose change.
“That’s all you’ve done with your immortality?” Charles asked as they stood on the bridge, watching the water below, and he pulled his collar around his sneer. “What a waste.”
Sergio shrugged. Fog covered the cityscape, leaving them suspended in a dream of white and gray. “It’s what I would have done with my mortal life, too. Take it or leave it.”
Maybe after a hundred more years, Charles might change tactics. He would wait and see.
Make time for good
When it is easy to say that you are
Dare to say that you will give yourself an hour
To be the truest you:
The one who shapes things
And destroys castles,
The one who makes miracles
Out of shoelaces and spit,
The one who builds meadows
And does not part the sea
So much as rules it from the center.
You must allow yourself to be
Who you were meant to be
On the other side of numbers and populations
And formulas and chemicals;
You must be the sunlight
And the moonlight,
Shrug off the hard shell of facts and figures
Because everyone who matters is waiting to bask in your glow.
It is easy to forget when you stand in
The Museum of Natural History
That most of the creatures there were alive once.
We see them, still, snarling, roaring, pondering,
Perhaps with young at their side that was most probably not theirs,
And we can’t imagine that this could be as strange a thing
As a photograph of a stranger’s child suckling at a woman’s empty breast,
Eyes regarding no hint of recognition
Only glass surrounded by flesh and glue.
It is easy to forget how once these things moved
And ruled the land and ate and bled and died
Because in passing, they seem like art
In the empty sense of art that is supposed to be an impression of something real
Instead of a reality that breathed air and broke bones,
That fell to the ground and rather than be eaten by carrion
Was carried to a land across air and sea into a sterile box
Shaved and styled and filled with artifice
And it teaches nothing unless the lesson that people seek is
How a full existence can escape decay
And offer meaning in whatever form the onlooker desires
Even when there is nothing actually there.
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.
Dare to grab hold of things that make you really happy. Even if no one else gets it. Even if there isn’t a greater goal.
Watch cartoons. Read comic books.
Draw. Paint. Get a bucket of chalk and work your sidewalk until the rain washes it away.
Make things without agency or intention beyond bringing something into existence that wasn’t there before. Don’t you realize how godly that is?
Dress up and stay home.
Play with action figures.
Make castles in the sand.
Stop thinking about it.
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.
A beautiful quote from a bit on Radiolab’s Sunday show on NPR. It really resonated with me.
Geez louise, you guys.
I won’t lie, y’all. NaNoWriMo is a mud run for writers. It’s trying to take everything you’ve learned over the span of your entire lifetime as a writer and trying to make it all apply in this mad dash of 50K words.
The first week has been good. I’ve fallen behind a little this weekend, but I’m not too worried, truth be told. I’m not at that point where I am desperately counting words, like they are vital nutrient-rich calories while I am Bear-Grylls-ing my way through alien terrain.
There are a few things that have kept me going: Chuck Wendig and his book 30 Days in the Word Mines. Chocolate. Pandora. Field trips to places I hadn’t been before. Visual art.
I’ve also learned a few lessons: turn off word count when you’re trying to get productive. Don’t try and watch anything while you’re writing. Don’t stop believing. Hold onto that feeling.
It may be a Journey lyric, but it applies.