Friday, February 8, 2008

on quantity

whatever people tell you, becoming a good artist is really about quantity.

no, hear me out.

in the artist's way, julia cameron talks about creating as an act of working through block. her two pillars of the artist's way focus on morning pages and the artist's date. morning pages start everything. the idea is, you let yourself write three pages of anything--ramblings, recipes, lists, or just plain unadulterated crapola. (the artist's date serves a different purpose, and one day, i will explore it here again.)

the artist's way has helped me a lot over the past year and a half, even though i have only gotten through the first five chapters. but that's okay.

because i've been "making."

the thing is, the difference between a working artist and a weekend artist is that the working artist knows and accepts that she will make crap. and lots of it. lots and lots of crap. and somehow, we decide to let the crap spew forth and then we cull and sort and sift to come up with "projects," to come up with "pieces." because in actuality, everyone, EVERYONE has the ability to create a masterpiece--so long as the stars line up. the difference is the working artist is continuously upping our chances and hedging our bets. the more we make, the more likely we can find that nugget of genius trapped in some dark corner of our cerebellum.

i see rigor, practice and craft not as a continuous search for my inner masterpiece, but rather a means to make my less masterful things more palatable. because "practice" and "craft" are just code words for, "i've worked really hard at this thing so that when i make crap, it seems more acceptable than the crap i made before i started working really hard at it."

in college, i once asked Mentor (who i will dedicate an entire entry to, i promise) whether i should continue editing a piece or move on. he said, at your age, just move on. write as much as possible. i followed his advice and for that winter term, i wrote one melody a day and kept a journal about it. almost all of those melodies were crap. i mean, super poor. but there was that one melody, i'm sure it was only 12 bars that came back from Mentor with the word "nice" written in red right next to it. and now, i know that even in my worst moments, i can write a decent, solid melody.

so i've been trying to concentrate on this "quantity" aspect of creating. it's a good exercise, because i have been known to be perfectionist to the point of paralysis. in fact, taking a page from cameron, i have a large piece of paper on my office wall that says, "dear god, i'll take care of the quantity, you take care of the quality." yes, a bit hokey, but something that i need.

i realized this evening that it's been a while since i've written my morning pages. but i'm okay with that. because thanks to this blog (and the myspace mistress), i've been writing pretty much everyday since the new year. and i see how that practice has seeped into my language, both written and spoken. it's tighter, it's smarter, it's closer to what i imagine in my head.

but of course, as the smart ones of you might have surmised, this means that the blog is my crap. yes, it is. and i thank you very much for reading my crap. or perhaps, i thank blogger for allowing me a venue to make things that i THINK people will read. it's really the same diff to me (although i admit that it strokes my ego oh so nicely when folk post comments).

here's to pure, unadulterated crap! long live arts and crap!

1 comment:

librarian said...

This was a really good blog entry kt.