Sometimes You Trick Yourself Into Doing It

Sometimes You Trick Yourself Into Doing It

I went to church this morning for the first time in many years. I wanted to hear the Easter music program at a place whose choir has a fabulous reputation.

The night before came. I didn’t want to go.

I was tired, just off work, and knew I wouldn’t have a day off for a while. And it was a big social gathering I’ve grown more reluctant to join the last few years. I thought about just staying in bed. But then I just treated it like I was going to work.

Not steeling myself, not begrudgingly thinking I’d better go. I stopped thinking about it and planned the trip and when I needed to get up. It was a weird trick I hadn’t planned or thought to implement. But treating it like a familiar routine I often use changed my mind about it, from something optional to an appointment.

The music was amazing and beautifully performed, and I was glad to have gone. If I’d left the decision until morning, I probably would have talked myself out of it.

Mary Sibande’s Sculptures Create a Connection Between Domestic Servant and the Sublime

Mary Sibande’s Sculptures Create a Connection Between Domestic Servant and the Sublime

 

Usually, I think of the sublime as a feeling of awe prompted by a vastness or an eternal existence, like landscapes or empty spaces. But there’s another kind, one that turns up unexpectedly, when the mundane is presented in an almost worshipful way.

Such is the work of Mary Sibande, a South African sculptor using fabric, photography, and molds of her own body to create a beautiful and, yes, sublime portrait of domestic servitude that transcends the idea of both occupation and the word, “service.” The trappings are there, but the images and traditions are both transformed into something more.

In her own words, which are much better than mine, she explains the origin of her recent work.

Detecting From the Ending Backward

Detecting From the Ending Backward

A popular trope about writing mysteries is that the author starts with the ending in mind and writing the plot back to the beginning. It’s probably not used universally, at least not any more, but there’s a bit of a corollary to other art practices.

If you have an end in mind, or a grand vision of some kind, it’s easier to start moving toward it. The hard part is when your execution doesn’t match the image in your head.

I find if I start with that kind of overall vision, I can’t stay too wedded to the original concept. It’s easy to become disappointed and discouraged by my abilities, or to realize the original ending wasn’t really that great to begin with.

The thing I’m making may be better off going on another direction, entirely. It’s mostly about creating the map as you simultaneously make the territory.

When Network Troubles Prevent Your Regularly Scheduled Posting

When Network Troubles Prevent Your Regularly Scheduled Posting

No post actually got uploaded yesterday due to some network issues on my end at home. It does point out the challenges of a consistent daily posting scheme. I’m a bit at the mercy of the Internet gods.

But what’s important, of course, is creating every day, not what makes it to published stage. Cory Doctorow talks frequently about his discipline of a writing schedule. In retrospect, just as he can’t tell which days he felt like he was writing well and which he felt he was writing poorly, I doubt I or anyone else could tell which posts were dashed off very late or after an outage when looked at without dates. The muse and our deftness comes and goes, so we might as well keep the routine internally.

Game of This and That

Game of This and That

Sometimes a cheap, pandering title is just the thing to tangent from.

We obsess over stories like nothing else. It’s another essentially human thing. Obsession is good, in moderation. We have to have some measure of it to stick with anything when it gets hard.

Just as it’s hard to watch made up people you care about get killed off on screen, it’s hard to watch your ideas fail to find a firm place to take hold and then fade. But there are always more ideas. If we keep on making them, there will be a few that make it.

Why Do We Do The Art Thing at All, Anyway?

Why Do We Do The Art Thing at All, Anyway?

It’s not as if it’s a guarantee of anything, even that you’ll feel creatively fulfilled—or some other vague notion—or emotionally stable.

I used to see the phrase “you do it because you have to,” sprinkled around. This seems designed to weed out the casuals and dilettantes, only serious commitments, please. But obsessive-compulsive behavior can be destructive. And I’ve always thought we need more casuals and dilettantes. Art isn’t for trained professionals, it’s for everyone, it’s part of what makes us human. We should all make it.

We want to feel the deep connection to the universe outside and our deepest selves within. Art is the bridge. It blooms from within by processing everything without. Sure, want to feel it really, really badly, if you’re driven to create.

But if you only want to a little, it’s okay. We still need it out here.

The Open Spaced Wild of Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze

The Open Spaced Wild of Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze

Amanze works with surrealism and figure—mashups? There’s a mystical element to many works, finely detailed figures and things floating in the white space of their surfaces.

It’s disturbing and charming at the same time. The sense of myth or spirit world imbues the drawings that also show us the plain, real, everyday. The open spaces have a quiet, meditative structure, where anything could happen, but for now the moment of stillness stretches.

The Weird Thing Is, You Don’t Always Know You’re Doing It

The Weird Thing Is, You Don’t Always Know You’re Doing It

There comes a moment in any ongoing project when I think I’m taking it too seriously and losing the loose qualities of early stages that made me want to continue the thing in the first place.

Overworked drawings are really a thing. Even meticulously crafted pen work needs some freeness about it.

There’s almost always room to free your work of too much control once you recognize what you’re saying and doing with it.