stevemedcroft.com
30Dec/150

Allison the Aligator

allison

Pen and marker. This one is hanging on my wall. It is a drawing of a rubber alligator I found on the side of the road while cycling a couple of years ago. When I got it home and cleaned it up, I was amazed at the level of detail in the mold it was made from. I wanted to bring the detail out by drawing it and was happy with how it turned out.

28Dec/150

Lament

Inspired by Steven Pressfield's The War of Art.

I quit
I give in
I can’t do this any more

I'm sick
Of the stress
Of never getting anywhere

I can't live

With the pain

Of the unfulfilled dream

If I accept

One more excuse

For why I'm not writing

If the battle

To pursue my dream

Is allowed to wear me through

I will die

Having not

Fulfilled my life's calling

It's time to put an end

To the guilt

The shame

The regret

Of the pressure

To make something

Of myself

I accept

That I can't

Make it happen

Through pure will

So right now

This minute

And every day

Going forward

I'm just going to let go of trying

And simply be

What it is

I am meant

To be

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27Dec/150

The War of Art – part one

the-war-of-artI just started reading the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The premise of the book is that if you have an unfulfilled passion for something, if you want to live a creative life, succeed in a business, capture some giant goal, but always seem to fall short or, worse yet, fail to ever start, you are not having a problem achieving the thing, you are having a problem overcoming the resistance you have to realizing your dream.

Based on the cover copy, the forward, and the opening chapter, this is a powerful book. I've struggled with the discipline of writing lately. I have the novella I'm in the middle of and I haven't worked on it for a couple of months. Months! I've been creative - some art projects and poetry, but if I am ever to realize my creative potential as a novelist, working on other things than my current novel is a little bit of a waste of precious time.

It's not that I'm blocked. I fell into a couple of weeks of copywriting assignment and even though I always had a reason why I couldn't find the time to work on my novella, I knocked out 500 polished words a day on the virtues of a cycling company's products every evening.  Sure, they were paid assignments but no one pays a novelist to work every day (do they?). You only get rewarded after you've done the work. And even then, there's no guarantee how rewarding that pay-off will be. So realistically, I need to work on my fiction as if it were a copywriting assignment; professionally, every day, with some sense that it must be done as if there were a reader just waiting every day for the book I'm working on to arrive. And then I don't. And then I feel guilty. And then I come up with reasons why I didn't or couldn't get to what I know I need to get to if I'm ever going to have a chance.

The book addresses the state I find myself in. It is uncomfortably direct. It hits as if it were someone you admire, who is professional, who is accomplished in the field you want to be part of, and who came to your office and called you an amateur who doesn't know how to work and will never make it. It's scary direct. It's the kind of kick-in-the-pants I've been looking for.

This will be a multi-part review. I want to absorb the book's message. I want to process it as it comes, as Pressfield intended. I want to make sure I get as much out of the book as possible. I don't want to rush past something because I assume I understand it. So as I work the book and see how it impacts my creative life, I will write about my experience. That starts with the impact of the opening chapters.

A couple of nights ago I read the chapter on the way resistance manifests itself to keep you from doing the work you need to do to reach your goals. Pressfield wants you to closely examine the thing that's keeping you from your potential as an artist and the ways it manifests itself. I resonated strongest with three of his examples. I know that he is leading us somewhere, presumably to his system or psychology for overcoming resistance and getting to the work or being a professional creative but i'm not going to get ahead of myself. I am examining the way I resist working on my story.

Procrastination: Oh boy, am I a master and telling myself that I will get to it. I am a master at making plans, to write starting tomorrow. Or that I just need to (fill in anything from run this errand to finish this show/series) before I start. Or that I need to work more on the outline. I can always come up with something that comes before the writing can start. If I were being true to what I really want to accomplish with my life, I would put writing first every day. I would wake up, write until I feel satisfied with my progress, then begin the rest of my day.

Comparison to others: I read a lot too. It's one thing to look up to idols and admire the work of others. It's another to look at the work of others and say to yourself that you don't measure up. I need to get comfortable with the idea that only by working and improving will my writing reach the point where it can stand on its own in the world. I need to accept that my work will be it's own thing and it does me no good to measure against an idol, say, Stephen King. I need to allow myself to accept that there are tens of thousands of novels written and my work, my voice, my ideas expressed as fiction, have just as much a right to exist in the world as any other.

Consumerism: Too many times to count I've reached the end of a day where I worked my day job, spent time with family, cycled with friends, taken in some kind of entertainment, only to bemoan the fact that I couldn't find the time to write. I'd then evaluate the day and realize I gave several hours of my life to the creative works of other people; television shows, movies, news radio. By definition, this makes me a consumer and not a creator. I need to turn that equation around because if I spend my whole life in consumption mode and never reach this goal of mine to exist as a novelist, I will be pissed.

Many more of Pressfield's examples of resistance resonated with me. I only hope that his intend is to use this section of the book like the military uses boot camp; to tear the recruit down so he can be built back up as a warrior ready to face the war ahead (the war to overcome resistance and reach your potential as an artist).

Until the next chapter...

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26Dec/150

Nekophiliac – electronic music

Chronic_Boredom_album_cover

My wife and I are both creative. We always have a project or two going. We have art supplies around the house. We both have artwork we've made hanging in the house. The creative leaning has manifested in our children (and now grandchildren).

One of my sons creates electronic music under the name Nekophiliac. He's been producing collections of songs since he was in high school. I love most of his music. Some of it is too fast or too genre-specific to a very particular kind of taste (lolicore he calls it) that I can't follow it but most of the music he makes is thoughtful, melancholy, and beautiful. Perfect music to write (or just chill) too.

He creates his music digitally, on a laptop, in a software program of which I can't remember the name. He creates his own album artwork. He publishes his albums on a platform called Bandcamp. He collaborates with other electronic artists who produce music along the same lines as his.

He creates prolifically. Since he started posting under this identity (he's published under at least one other name/style), he's put out twenty-seven albums and EP's. This amount of work has let him develop real proficiency with his tools and his finished work product is fully realized.

I look forward to his posting new work. I download it and give it a listen as soon as it posts. I have favorite tracks and love to share his music with people if I can weave it into a conversation.

My absolute favorite track is called [btf]. Listen to it here.

He struggles with promoting himself and his music. We were driving together today and the topic of conversation turned to the things that we both do to hold ourselves back as creators.

I just started reading the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The premise of the book is that if you have an unfulfilled passion for something, if you want to live a creative life, succeed in a business, capture some giant goal, but always seem to fall short or, worse yet, fail to ever start, you are not having a problem achieving the thing, you are having a problem overcoming the resistance you have to realizing your dream. I plan on writing more about the book in this blog but let's just say last night I read the chapter on the way resistance manifests itself to keep you from doing the work it would take to reach your goal and it motivated me to get busy writing. The things I spoke to with my son about were the definitions of resistance from Pressfield's book that I resonate with strongest on first pass. My son and I immediately found common ground.

First, my son and I agreed we both compare ourselves critically to other artists to our detriment. I read a finished, published novel and compare my own work to it and think that I don't yet measure up, that my work is immature and unrealized. I've written five novels. I'm not ready to call any of them complete and ready to publish. He told me he does the same thing with his music.

I told him that I don't show my work to anyone other than my wife for fear that I am going to get negative feedback. He told me does the same thing. We both post publicly, but only in a safe, controlled space (Bandcamp for him and this blog for me). And I think all creatives know that besides the work, the second-most-important aspect of succeeding in the arts is promotion.

I was so grateful for this conversation, to discover this common ground, because now we can both work to help each other, to be accountable to each other, to take our creative life to the next level. I want to be a positive influence on my son's creative life. I want to show him the way through his resistance to success. The best way for me to do that is to tackle my own resistance and be an example.

So, with that...

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25Dec/150

On His Phone Again

on_his_phone_again3Digital pencil and marker.