Losing Passion

Below is a post I wrote last year before I began my classes and various projects that have consumed any free time I actually have. I was wasting my time, and I wasn’t doing anything to change my habits. Of course, I had no motivation to do so. I’m publishing it now to show what it sounds like when a person loses their passion. I am still dealing with this. I have no answers or solutions for you, other than to keep going or change the path your on, change what you’re doing. It’s important, if you are burned out, to find something else that catches you on fire again.

 

 

 

I don’t want to come here and write to a handful of people who don’t seem to care. You, reading this right now, do you care? Are you a creative person who wants to connect with other creatives and, possibly, learn from each other? Because I’m not getting that from anyone at the moment.

Although, I’m not completely sure if that matters. I’m still learning, after all.

I go home and, if I don’t workout, I get online and watch a video or movie. I don’t read. I don’t write.  Well, sometimes I’ll read and sometimes I’ll write, but it’s nowhere near the scale it was before.

I feel guilty. I still get excited for all the ideas I have and continue to have. I’m just no longer motivated or happy to make them into anything. I don’t want to write.

I DON’T WANT TO WRITE.

That is, I don’t want to write right now. I’m unmotivated. I can’t work up any gumption. In fairness, I don’t really want to do anything, which may have to do with other things, overarching things, things beyond my control.

In my head, I think I should write a second book piece-by-piece, get those pieces published individually and then try to get the whole thing published. And I’ve been trying it, although it’s been a slow, miserable, grinding process. I’m about ready to give up. No, that’s not completely right. I’m ready to give up. I want to give up.

I WANT TO GIVE UP.

The idea behind this blog was to write about life and experiences with and for other creative people. It was also a way to keep something going and changing on this site. I’ve somehow managed to keep this going. I’m not entirely sure how.

Here’s an excellent piece by Katy Cowan called Creatives, if you’ve lost your passion, don’t be afraid to change. If you want more like this or on the subject of losing passion, I guarantee that if you google something along the lines of losing your creative passion, you’ll get a plethora of results.

 

Any questions and comments are welcome here. Have any suggestions for future blogs or content, feel free to let me know.

 

All the best,

 

Nathan

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There’s No Money In Writing: Oh The Humanities!

Preface: I wrote this September 11th, 2016, totally despondent from being asked to freelance for free. I hated how little recognition and support the humanities seemed to get, especially when you consider how much they give and do for everyone. And the thing is, I still feel this way. Although, I would consider myself less of a cynic now than when I wrote this originally. I think it’s important to understand what the arts does for everyone.

I also think that it’s important to note that asking someone to work for free or working for “exposure,” is an unethical and, frankly, non-capitalistic thing to do. Goods and/or services = compensation. I digress…

 

 

THERE’S NO MONEY IN WRITING!!!

 

Well, there is but there isn’t.

 

I was discussing the turnover rates at work and what our employers were doing and not doing to combat potential issues, when my coworker surprised me by saying, “I expect you’d be in a newspaper, not here.”

I shocked myself by responding, “There’s no money in writing. It’s not the 40s or whatever.”

So, yeah… There is but there isn’t.

 

Points.

We’re not all J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, two white people who write a lot, influence greatly, and have franchises beyond their bestsellers. I’m talking movies here, people. There are a lot of talented people out there. These people and anyone else who is creating, who isn’t bad, regardless of whether they’re friends or strangers, are competition. That is, in capitalism. Competition, as they say, is fierce. It’s difficult to get published, break into publishing, or really anything in the writing world. It’s all a struggle. A lot of the same scenarios with other art forms too.

 

It used to be that people like me, if their credentials and contacts aren’t good enough to put them into one of those aforementioned jobs but are still decent, we end up in academia. It’s not inherently a bad thing. In fact, it used to be the preferred route. You teach people to write while writing on the side yourself. You never lose that edge. You keep sharpening it, learning what’s good and bad from your students, peers, and any books you need to research. Now, it’s not a livable gig. You get picked up as an adjunct and, if you’re lucky, get the chance to eventually move up the proverbial ladder. Adjuncts dream of being turned into real professors. Real professors dream of tenure. Until they’re professors, many must take on additional work to get by. This ad on of work makes writing difficult. Don’t get me wrong, people can do it. People I know do it. The problem is that it doesn’t appeal to me. I also find the shaping of young minds to be a challenge I’m not sure I’d want to undertake. That’s a lot of pressure, but there’s no telling where things will go.

People.

So, where’s the money? Show me the money!

  1. Managers, agents, and people with established (or pre-established) names. Have them. Get them.

You got that? Know anyone famous who’d be willing and able to help you? Got strings to pull in the industry? Use them if you do/can. They might get you places you never dreamed of before. It’s still a longshot though, but it’s a shot.

  1. Patrons. You heard me.

We’re in the wrong time period for this, but it would be cool if an independently wealthy individual or family was willing to sponsor your arts. Of course, they do this because they expect you to eventually become famous and provide them with more income. Like I said, capitalism.

  1. Newspapers?

Yes, taking it back to the beginning of this piece, I could always try my luck in a newspaper. Those sometimes pay enough that you do not starve to death. I’ve interned for some. I was also on the school paper for part of high school. I’m currently freelancing for an online one that’s connected to my current job. We’re in the future. It’s a hard road though, filled with deadlines, stress, and ink.
I don’t know where the money is. It’s everywhere and it’s nowhere.

 

Where will you be when reality sets in?

You know what? Don’t think too hard about it. There’s not a whole lot of money outside of a good book deal followed by tours and movie adaptations. And you’ll have to be lucky and more than lucky to pull that off. Let’s face it, it’s a battle with low yield. Society needs the arts but isn’t willing to pay for them, not all of them. Escapism isn’t valued the same as it used to be, and the competition is only growing. Demand is down. Supply is high.

This may be a cynical view from a picky jerk who’s all but given up, and you’re somewhat right. Well, you are but you aren’t. I’m still writing. The plan is the plan that a lot of people have had for forever: Work a job unrelated to your interests, write when you can, as much as you can, try to get it published somewhere, read to some people when and where you can, and hope for the best. Maybe there’s a way out of it somewhere out there. I just haven’t found it yet. All I can do is what everyone everywhere does, keep going. Keep going.

 

That, right there, is my only real bit of advice for you here. If you’ve started this, if it’s what drives you, what you really want, then keep going. It’s not that there’s no point in giving up, there is, but I can guarantee that you don’t want to be at the end of your life with the knowledge that you didn’t do that one thing. Besides, people like me are too deep in it to give it up, nor do I want to. Regardless of finances, I’m going to find a way to express myself and work my craft. I hope you feel the same. I know that this has taken a turn but keep going.

 

Yours,

Nathan

Back to School: February 2018

Admittedly, this almost didn’t happen due to financial concerns, a student worker at an office who gave me wrong information, and my own stress and anxiety levels, which I’m always working on improving. Needless to say, I decided to go through with it.

I once told someone, and many other people, upon graduating an MFA program, I would NOT be returning to school ever again. Well, I’m doing it.

It almost seems foolish to do so, but with my tuition remission from work and my lack of traction in my career, it’s anything but. It happened not too long ago that I sat with my former boss, who is technically my current boss only she’s out of office for over a year due to a project, and she told me that I should pursue some more education. After all, it’s virtually free. Virtually being the key word. There are still fees to pay. And not all schools fee same. Found that out the hard way!

Several months passed by and I received an email from my dad about a Graduate Certificate Program that might interest me.

It did.

I applied. I got in.

For some reason I was surprised. I saw the email with my name on it, welcoming me  back to the university that I said would be the last place I’d attend after the last time I attended it. And the sudden rush of this good news probably intensified my reaction. I was overjoyed. I shared the news with everyone I thought might care. I posted it on social media in case I had missed anyone. That way I also wouldn’t have to contact everyone in my friends list individually.

That’s my secret. Oh no! I’m lazy!

I’ve already mentioned why, practicality-wise, I should go back to school, but why did I want to? It’s simple on multiple points:

1. Structure

  • Post-graduate school, life lost something I didn’t realize it never had, but school did – structure. I missed it. Things seemed chaotic. I didn’t know what to work on or if I should. Although I prefer the freedom of choice, I definitely enjoy a structured schedule where I probably won’t get surprised.

2. Direction

  • There are ways that you know you should go in life, but no certainties. In school, you know what you need to do and how to do it. If you have any questions, you can ask.

3. People

  • This is not to say that I don’t spend time with people, a sentiment my parents and other people might not believe. I do. I really do. I try to spend time with like minded individuals when I can. In school, I am assured this. I can also meet MORE people who may be like me or have similar interests. I might also meet people who are completely different than me, ultimately causing me to grow as a person! The thing about life is the older you get, the more difficult it can become to make (and keep) friends and etc. This is kind of like a work around of that. Granted, difficult does not mean impossible.

4.  Learning

  • I get a chance to learn more about something that interests me, and do so in a way that  I couldn’t on my own. I also don’t want to learn on my own. At least, I don’t ALWAYS want to learn that way.

5.  Because I want to and I can!

  • There are a number of difficulties in simply getting into higher education, whether it’s political opposition or financial struggles, but if you can and you want to, then you shouldn’t think twice about it. Do it! Do it.
  • Also, I wanted five things here. Or ten, but no more or less than those numbers. Anything else feels wrong.

Yes, I may have had to go against a crusade of misinformation, threatening to leave the program a few times, calling everyone who should know something. I may have seriously considered giving up, which isn’t bad, but doesn’t seem to be the right thing either. Thing is, I have plenty of reasons to do this. I don’t think I need any, but I do have them.

I have benefits through my job that allow me to do this. I am fortunate that I can, and I will take full advantage of it as long as I am able. I’m actually interested in what I’m going to be studying and learning. I also think this is a prime example of people learning and changing over time. I mean, I was DONE with education. I did not want to go back, but here I am. And I couldn’t be more excited!

I hope that everyone out there can find something big and important to further themselves too.

All the best,

Nathan

I Stopped Writing [Clickbait]: But No, I Really Did Stop.

In November, which was about two months ago , I stopped writing. *GASP*

In fairness, I really stalled out in October. That is, I stopped my major book writing project. It just turned difficult with work stuff, health stuff, and various other stressful and less stressful things. November, ironically, is when I stopped trying to write the book stuff. I still wrote though. I’m intentionally being misleading. I try to write, if not every day, then most days out of the week. I’m writing this in November, for instance.

But I did take on side projects.

Yeah, and then I started making Christmas cards for family members. It started with the immediate family, and then I got carried away with it, kind of. I used InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, all skills obtained via graduate school. I researched card sizes. I searched for decent card stocks available at affordable prices. I had to figure out how I was going to print and cut them. I did everything, and I had fun doing it. It was great to do on multiple levels. I was not only able to use my skills to help me get something out in the world for people that I cared about, but I also was able to refresh myself on what I really enjoy doing outside of, well, writing. Plus, it was great to have a project that wasn’t strictly word and story based, not that there’s anything wrong with that per say.

I’ve said it before in previous blogs: When you come to a wall or are burned out, besides pushing through, take a break and do something else that utilizes the creativity in you.

You’ll either find your old drive rejuvenated or you’ll discover a new flame.

I made over a dozen individual, custom sized Christmas/Holiday cards, and I had a blast doing it! I got to be as specific and inventive as I wanted. No restrictions placed on myself. It was what I needed.

 

New Year blah blah blah…

You may be wondering to yourself, “Why the new year repetition?” If you’re not, you should be. It’s quite simple, really. This state of creativity or lack thereof is common. Most likely everyone or almost everyone reading this and otherwise who fancies themselves creative in any way and does a creative thing almost exclusively will go through this. And it will happen more than once. It’s no happenstance, freak occurrence. It’s an ailment of the routine and overdoing and boredom.

But, rest assured, it is not a permanent state, usually. What I prescribe might not necessarily be right for you, but you will be able to find your own remedy. I am merely here to give fair warning, and help when and where I can. That’s the idea anyway.

Seriously though… What have I been writing?

Poems mostly. For a while there, I was trying to create a chapbook, but I mostly gave that up. Lately, poetry has come easiest to me. When I want to write but I’m finding it difficult, I’ll go down to the park, watch what’s going on, smell the air, listen, and write a poem detailing everything that I’m experiencing. It’s something I was instructed to do way back when in under grad that I still do, because it works. Granted, the original assignment was just to be a voyeur and write about people, but I found nuances in it which help me when I’m struggling that I enjoy implementing.

I do intend to get back to book writing eventually. Part of the problem is life. It’s hectic and stressful, and it makes it difficult to put in the time and effort I would need to write something this big. That said, I did end up writing about six out of nine essays that I intended to have created. So, I’m not far off from the plan. I’m just on hiatus.

Of course, I couldn’t go without using my creative muscles. Hence the cards.

I’ve seen a lot of people start and eventually give up on projects they’ve set for themselves. I’ve seen a lot of people never return to finish those projects. I’m fortunate in that I’m stubborn about finishing things that I start. I’m aware not everyone is like that. Some of you will need restrictions and/or deadlines from outside sources, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s certainly a good motivator, at the very least. Also, if it’s just something for you, it can be less rewarding than, let’s say, if you’re getting paid to do something. That’s cool too. Money can help immensely.

That said, if you have trouble finishing things that you start for yourself, bring in another person. It can be incredibly helpful to have someone else to rely on to push you into accomplishing goals you set for yourself. That is, I recommend having someone that will hold you accountable and apply pressure when needed. You can’t do everything on your own.

Well, unless you’re crazy like me…

 

The Key to Success

Accomplishing goals, finishing self-imposed projects, getting published, giving readings, sometimes getting paid for these things, and not having everything spin out of control. These are all elements of what I would consider success.

I think it’s important to understand that success is a subjective term. It can be measured by societal expectations but, ultimately, it’s really a case-by-case thing that is dependent on an individual’s expectations and understandings.

Personally, being able to see through any creative endeavors, whether I’ve made them for myself or been given them by another person, is indicative of me being successful.

So, I can absolutely give up writing, sort of, even for a couple months, and still be successful.

It comes down to perspective.

If you think that fame and fortune are what constitutes as success, which is understandable if you have always lived in a capitalistic society that tells you that, then that’s your bar. I will give fair warning in this regard that viewing that as success may be devastating, especially in the arts where that is rarely accomplished. Of course, if that’s what you want, then that’s what you want.

 

I encourage people to pursue what makes them happy, within reason, morality, and civility. We’re all going to be here for only so long. And have a great 2018!

 

Yours,

Nathan

December Baby. December, Baby.

December is a holiday month: Kwanza, Hanukkah, Fiesta of our Lady of Guadalupe, Omisoka/New Years Eve, Yule, Boxing Day, Christmas and etc. To name a few, as it were. It’s the time of the Winter Solstice. It also happens to be my birth month. Yay!

Although this year is feeling more like MEH.

I’ll be 29 this month. THIS MONTH. That’s a year away from 30!

And I most certainly do not have my shit figured out, pardon my French.

Whether it’s from people I know, people I idolize on the internet, or someone I happened to overhear on the street at 2AM, I hear the same age old wisdom: Your twenties are for experimentation and your thirties (and onward) are implementation. In other words, you work on figuring everything out in your twenties by making a series of mistakes, and then you act like you know what you’re doing because you base it off of what you learned from said mistakes or something.

This is terrifying to me.

Everyone makes it sound like I should have everything under control and understood by the time I’m done with this decade in my life. You might feel the same way. I don’t think it has much validity though. I’m not so sure if it’s because I don’t or because I know that’s bullshit. Yeah, I wanted my life to be fairly different from what it is now, so do a lot of people, but regardless of that, I know nobody is going to have everything figured out. Some, or most, people never will, in fact, and that’s fine. Or I think that’s fine.

What I’ve learned growing up is that there’s no significant shift between child and adult, not even in teenage years, but a gradual change where you have more responsibilities, stresses, freedoms, and challenges. People don’t suddenly turn into an adult just like people don’t magically have their shit under control because they’ve reached a certain age. You also don’t get rid of your past or who you were, you change from it and from that person. Besides, if you’re not growing and learning, then what are you doing?

Probably nothing, that’s what. You’re growing stagnant. You’re getting stuck in your ways. That’s my fear.

Ultimately, it comes back to creating for me. If you’re making something, doing some art medium, and you’re churning out piece after piece but the pieces are all the same, then I feel like you’re a failure or that I’m a failure, really. I mean, you can be financially successful, but that doesn’t mean that you are successful in your art. After a while, you’re not creating anymore, you’re just doing. If you’ve learned everything there is to know about your art, and you feel there’s nothing else to learn, then you’re hindering yourself or not challenging the medium enough, and I think that’s problematic.

What I’m trying to say is, there’s a difference between being knowledgeable and thinking you know all there is to know. You can’t know everything. In the words of Luke Skywalker, portrayed by Mark Hamill, “That’s not true! That’s impossible!” Don’t look into the context of that quote, please…

You can still imagine you’re omniscient like someone who has specialized their craft i.e. perhaps you’ve gone to school to master one type of Japanese glaze because most of the Japanese glazes I’m familiar with are difficult to work with and do require a greater understanding of what goes into them. You can become a master of that glaze, but not of ceramics. If you’re wondering why I bring up this oddly specific example it’s because I recently went to an exhibit in an art museum that demonstrated Japanese ceramics. It was gorgeous. I digress. I’m aware that I really shouldn’t downplay the importance of specialization within the arts. It is important to have experts, after all, but one thing for me that not only gives me a reason to continue but a reason to do anything at all, is the act of improving and learning. Without that, I don’t see a point.

I don’t mean to anger or insult anyone here, by the way. It’s more of a personal reflection than an attack. Monotonous repetition and a lack of stimulation and challenge is a nightmare for me. I hope that some of you will be able to sympathize with this.

If you’re wondering why I chose to go on this lengthy, analogical tangent when all I really wanted to do was exercise my insecurities over age and self-worth, well… Yes, I could’ve done that. I definitely could’ve done that because, as a creative person, my life falls under the theme I gave this blog. The point is, I wanted to be ridiculous.

This is one of those things where I’m already aware of where I want to go and where I’m going, but I don’t want to get there and have everything end. It’s the journey, not the destination. Yes, more wise colloquialisms. And if the destination is to have everything experienced, never have any surprises, good or bad, and have an easier life, then I don’t think I want it, necessarily.  This coming from the guy with a General Anxiety Disorder. Hence the beginning of this post.

Ha ha. Mental illness. Ha ha. That post will probably come at a later time.

To summarize: Everyone moves at their own pace. No one will have everything together. We all age. Some of us need to be constantly improving, and some of us are where we want to be. Age is a number. There are a lot of holidays in December. Etc.

Sound good?

Bottom line, don’t worry. Whether or not things don’t seem to be going your way, that’s something that happens, and is a thing that you can get over and/or improve. Also, work hard and create. Enjoy December too!

 

Yours,

 

Nathan

It’s November: A Time To Be Grateful Or Novel Writing Or Not Shaving Or Something.

Sometimes the end of the year hits or nears or looms and I’m left without a sense of motivation or anything to do. With that in mind, I wanted to give a few examples of things that can be done in November, and then I wanted to try to tie them into being creative or close to it. This intro reminds me of the old way they used to teach us how to write essays: No surprises. Well, maybe just a few.

THANKSGIVING

It’s definitely Autumn (colloquially Fall in the States). The US is closing in on participating in what is known as Thanksgiving. It’s a day that devolved into a national holiday where we usually eat too much turkey and a number of other somewhat traditional foods to the point where we’re too full and enter a state of rest similar to that of a coma. Not to say that’s a bad thing, I love the food, but there’s supposed to be more to it than that.

Now, let’s forget for a moment that the original meal was thanks to Native Americans in some way helping out people coming from Europe and that those same European immigrants attempted and at times were successful at genocide of the native populations, said the white man writing this blog… The real object of the holiday isn’t intended to be that of gluttony, although it often is, but to think on your blessings and what you’re grateful for at the time.

You may be like, “What does this [American] tradition have to do with being creative?” Good question, me and/or reader if you actually thought of it. I find that, after a while, I lose sight of the good things in my life, and I not only become disappointed but wholly dissatisfied with it. This puts me in a state where I’m not just incapable of creating, which I do become, but I’m not really capable of doing much of anything. For instance, although I might not like my job, it pays and gives me benefits that currently keep me alive, for example. What I’m trying to say here is that it’s good to get perspective on things.

Yes, it’s difficult, if not close to impossible, for most of us to do what we want to do if it’s something artistic, BUT there are plenty of good things going on as well, things you can use to help motivate you. Also, being unhappy puts a strain and often a stop to creativity. I highly advise against it.

NANOWRIMO

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “What is that? That’s not a word!” That’s appropriate if you did think that. I once had that same reaction. Also, you’d be correct in thinking that’s technically not a word, but I digress.

Most people don’t know what that is. I know I was unaware of it until around 2009 when I was in undergrad. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. It happens every year on the same month, November. It’s starts on the 1st and ends at 11:59PM on the 30th.

Here’s the premise for the whole month, essentially, people set out to write a whole, full length novel in the course of a month. That’s something I wouldn’t necessarily recommend. The length goal is  50,000 words. The writing process resembles a marathon. You even have to pace yourself. If you don’t meet a word goal of about 1,667 words a day, then it’s important to think about either giving up or giving yourself more time and not participating in this. I’ve known some people to spend the greater part of a year preparing for this event. I’ve seen layouts of plot points, characters, and themes, much like I’ve seen with others who wrote novels in grad school with me over the course of several months. I’ll take a moment to add here that there are other versions of this like NaPoWriMo, but that’s during another month.

Obviously, this is creative. The idea of writing a novel in a month seems preposterous. Yet, at the same time, I think it’s important to challenge yourself in your craft and see what you can do. There’s nothing quite like honing your skills like using them in a difficult way. And, I feel, this goes beyond the advice of simply using your skills to keep them sharp, but also understanding your skills and talent and what you’re capable of as an artist.

Honestly, it’s impressive. I couldn’t do it. When I was in college, I couldn’t because I was already writing a lot. Now, I don’t do it because I’m lazy, have fun things I want to do, and I work full time. But I will say that if you have the time to commit to it and you are successful at keeping up with the word count, then more power to you. I think that’s wonderful and I hope that you are able to keep it up.

If anyone reading this is interested, there’s an official NANOWRIMO site you can go to. They even provide some incentives to help keep people going. I encourage anyone who wants to try it for themselves to do it.

 

NO SHAVE NOVEMBER

Can anyone remember what this one was about? Oh, that’s right, not shaving. I mean, it’s right there in the title. Hard to forget…

I don’t know when this originated, but I do know it was back in high school, many moons ago, I first heard about it. The actual meaning of this is to promote cancer awareness. That may sound strange, but there is some logic behind it. The idea is that you embrace your hair and grow it out because so many cancer patients going through chemo end up losing theirs. In some ways, it’s to keep you grateful for what you have, which is, hopefully, hair and being cancer free. I am in the process of balding, albeit many would argue that I’m already there, and will probably have to shave my head in the near future. I did grow a beard about 2 years ago and never looked back though.

I do want to point out how male/testosterone/facial hair-centric this particular one is, when it doesn’t have to be. If you shave anywhere, during this time, you should just stop. It’s as easy as that to participate. Let the hair grow!

Ok, I’m done.

If you’re able to grow out facial hair or head hair or any kind of hair, I guess, for this one, it’s an excellent time to practice styling. I definitely see this as a creative endeavor. It’s equally a way to test any relevant skills you may have, or a way to find some hidden talent. It’s hair. At the end of the month, if you’ve managed to stick to it that long, then you can get rid of it. For those of you who might have a lot, I would encourage donating to those without. In case you were wondering, I don’t mean me.

There are other variations like Mustache November, but I think it’s important to stick to the ones I can remember immediately and take the least amount of effort. No Shave November also has it’s own site. See, I linked it in the previous sentence so you can go there if you want, but you don’t have to. I mostly wanted to point that out to show I’m not totally neglectful.

 

 

These are just a few things: I don’t want anyone coming to me and telling me there’s nothing to do in November. I also don’t want to hear anyone claim that they can’t find a way for events to have an effect on their creativity. I mean, I just spun a thing where you don’t shave. If you’re having trouble getting your creative juices flowing, then do something that challenges you and/or takes your mind off it. You know, I advise living a bit.

Have a great November!

 

Yours,

Nathan

The People You Know Pt. 2

There are many ways to ask people permission. That is, if you’re going to. As previously stated in another post from June of 2016, The People You Know, which you should read if you haven’t already, some don’t. Again, personal preference is abundant here. What follows are just a few that I’ve used, heard others use, and/or thought of as a possibility.

 

  1. The Sit Down
  • With this one, it’s not necessary to show the person the work, and this can be done prior to conceptualizing whatever you’re about to create. This involves close, personal contact. You’ll have to be in the same room as the person you’re writing or using as your muse. I recommend doing this as a one-on-one type meeting. Invite them in and/or over to two chairs preferably across from each other with a table between the two of you, but you can also sit side-by-side. It all depends on whether or not you want to turn your body or have some space just in case things go awry. Then ask them if it’s ok to write about them. I recommend direct eye contact in this scenario, as you sit across from them, because shifty eyes can give them the feeling that something is amiss, which it might be depending on what you’re going to do with them in your piece. Keep in mind, a lack of steady eyes and confidence will be your undoing.
  1. The Stand Up
  • This is exactly the same as the Sit Down except that you, well, stand up. The only benefit that I can think of is that it’s noticeably more awkward and the person you’re talking to might come to an answer or a yes faster just so they can get away from the situation. Also probably works more effectively on and for impatient people.
  1. The Phone Call
  • Seriously, if you don’t get what to do here, then I don’t know what to tell you. Call the person up and ask them if it’s cool. Don’t actually say, “Is it cool,” though. Explain what you’re doing and what you need from them, which is permission.
  • Pros: Zero body language to be read and mistranslated. You can do this anywhere you can use a phone.
  • Cons: Can be interpreted as impersonal. It might be impersonal, but probably not as bad as the next.
  1. The Text
  • Again, similar to The Phone Call, except in this version, you send a text message as the request as opposed to verbal dialogue. Similar pros and cons too.
  1. The Email
  • You can make this seem professional with a To Whom It May Concern, or give it a more personal Dear; or just put the person’s name for a more nonchalant feel. Similar to the text, but usually more structured, The Email is a quick and easy way to ask. Unfortunately, you’ll need internet access, but this isn’t the 1990s so you should be fine.
  1. The Pass Off or Handover
  • It sounds weird, but it’s simple. You create the piece, right? Once you’re done, you approach the person the piece is about, you pass off a copy to them, and then you say, “Is this all right?” If they say, “Yes,” good for you, and if they say, “No,” then you don’t have permission. If you fail on obtaining permission in this manner you can go with the other options, redo whatever you made and try this again later, or you can choose to go through with it anyway and risk the relationship. You know, whichever is easier for you, I guess.
  1. The Tell
  • Not like in poker, The Tell isn’t really about getting permission. It’s more about letting them know what you’re up to. It’s for the person who doesn’t care all that much, but doesn’t want to seem like a complete asshole. It’s rather straightforward, anyway you want to do it, let the subject know what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter if they say yes or no or act confused, them knowing counts as permission.
  1. The Waiver
  • What do you want me to say? Write up a waiver and get them to read it and then sign and date it. I’ve never heard of anyone who isn’t a lawyer doing this, but you’re welcome to give it a try. It will certainly, possibly remove virtually all risk from any potential, future legal trouble this may present.
  1. The Contract
  • This is similar to The Waiver, except with The Contract the two of you discuss what can and cannot be used as material. You come to some sort of mutual agreement, and then you can sign a sheet with each other’s stipulations or just verbally agree on the matter. This may be the best for the person who is being used for your art, but may be the most harmful for it too.
  1. The Surrogate
  • All you have to do for this one is get someone else to do it for you, hence the name of this strategy. I recommend getting someone to do this that the person you’re creating about likes and/or trusts, preferably more than you. This is especially useful for the person that you don’t know that well or who doesn’t like you. The problem with this is that you risk completely ruining your relationship with the person you’re creating about and possibly the relationship that person has with your surrogate.

 

 

All of these are real scenarios albeit more on the tongue-in-cheek side. In all seriousness, it can be a nice step in a relationship to talk to other people about the possibility of using them in your writing or any creative endeavor. People tend to appreciate it if you do, but, as I’ve said repeatedly, you don’t have to. How you handle or don’t handle the situation is entirely up to you. I hope that your creating goes well, and that you don’t lose anyone in the process. Although, that’s the way it goes sometime. I’ll attempt to touch upon that later in another piece.

 

Peace,

Nathan

Writing What You Know

A.K.A. Sticking to Your Guns

How do you do this? How do you write what you want to write?

I often feel myself slumping down into my seat when I think about the material I’m producing and seeing how the world is. Currently, I’m attempting to write about sports. Recent world events make me feel like what I’ve chosen to write about is not important. I want to focus on topics like Toxic Masculinity and masculinity in general, because it’s what I’m familiar with and what effects me, but I feel like I should write an essay about world and/or political affairs. Or maybe something about the US’ current socioeconomic climate and its constant state of harming those whom would be deemed as “lesser.”

The thing is, I CAN still write about them. BUT, I’m not the best person to do so. Yes, the world seems to be in turmoil, but I’m not the most educated on climate science. I don’t have much experience in poor and/or rural communities of the US. I’m a barely lower-middle class, straight, white male who was forced to fit in despite mental illnesses and other natural weirdnesses based on cultural norms etc. It’s not these things I feel guilty about not writing, but it’s what I know.

I was not good at sports, and I hope you weren’t either. Even if you are, you’re still welcome! I’m only saying that because THAT’S what I’m writing about, or trying to anyway. Why that and not something else? Well, I’ll answer that question with another question: Why not?

There are lots of creators out there, a plethora of writers, each with their own style and subjects, most, if not all, of it dependent on their life experiences. I’m not saying you should rely on other writers or creators to get points across, your points across that is, but to assume that they will, at the very least, do better than someone who doesn’t have the same knowledge and/or experience as you. Now, you shouldn’t feel that something like creating a statue as a political statement and placing it in a community where it will get the most impact is something you should assume someone else will do and do it better, but you should be aware if this is what you’re best at and if you’re comfortable doing it.

I will say that stretching beyond your comfort zone is a good part of growing creatively. However, there are limits. You should certainly feel the need to expand your knowledge and skill set, but don’t do what you can’t do.

It’s difficult to accept, at times, especially when you feel inadequate in your work, but it is something everyone will need to get over at some point. It’s good to feel confident in what you’re working on/writing. It’s important to feel like you’re the only one who can write about what you’re writing about in the way that you’re writing about it. This is what’s often called “originality.”

Don’t write what you don’t know.

Sounds simple, but a lot of people try tackling things that they’re solely passionate about without the education necessary. If you really want to write about something, take the time to study and make sure that you’re knowledgeable about the subject. Don’t get me wrong, you need passion, that drive, but passion isn’t everything. I mean, it’s something, but it’s not enough.

On top of that, if someone tells you to stop writing about something, mostly something that they don’t find interesting as opposed to something they find could be harmful, you shouldn’t listen to that person. Now, if what you’re working on is poor in quality or moral fiber, then I would have to side with that person. BUT, if your work is just something they don’t care much about, then stick to your guns, and keep going. They’re not your target audience and you can find that later.

Not giving up, though, is something you need to find. If you can persevere, even things seem most difficult, most dire, then you’ve made it further than most. I will always encourage people to write and/or create. I hope the best for everyone.

 

Yours,

Nathan

Creative Blockage

Writer’s Block. It’s a thing. Well, I think it is. Some will argue otherwise, to just push through the mental bullshit, also known as nonsense. But it doesn’t matter who you are, not all days will be good ones when it comes to creating, and, certainly, not all of them will be productive ones either, not to say whether or not they are mutually exclusive.

 

How? How does this happen?

Stress. That’s usually what’s doing it. It’s as simple as stress. It’s as complicated as stress. You can go to fancy resources to figure out your problems, but stress is a common killer of creative flows. It has been for as long as art has been around. Yeah, that’s a long time.

Technically, it’s not the main culprit. It’s what is caused by whatever is happening to you, but the stress that occurs is what does you in. If your time is being used up by an unfortunate event and you can’t create, that’s one thing, but most things are stress related.

 

What do you do?

Good question. Did you ask it? Doesn’t matter because I did. Yes, that’s right, I’m important. At least I am here. That’s what matters. See what I did there?

I’d recommend de-stressing. Cue eye roll and/or the “no duh.” That’s de-stressing, not to be confused with distressing. This made up compound word actually means to relieve the stress that you’ve accrued and/or are carrying. Stress is not only bad for your creating, it’s bad for your health as well. It even shortens your life, so I’ve been told. Don’t check that. I’m pretty sure that’s accurate. It’s not an alternative fact, probably.

I’ll make past professors cringe when I tell you to do the opposite of what they told me, being older and wiser and whatnot, step away from what you’re doing. Don’t create. If you have something causing you stress, resolve it. Then get yourself to feeling better. After that your creativity will happen more freely and naturally.

Alternatively, another way would be to listen to my older and wiser past professors and push through. It is mental, after all, and forcing yourself to continue isn’t the worst advice. Your best bet here, though, is to try to focus on what you’re creating rather than the stress causing thing that basically produced the blockage in the first place. Take baby steps here. Try too hard and you could end up doing the not creating that you weren’t doing before. If you’re writing, punctuate, write a sentence or two, but not too quickly. After years of trying this, I don’t recommend it. It does sometimes work, forcing your way through, but it’s really for people who just can’t think of anything.

Another, almost compromising thing that partly contradicts the first piece of advice, would be to stop what you’re creating and create another thing. In other words, work on something else. Come back to what you were working on before later. I would recommend, if you choose this “option” to go light on whatever other thing you’ll be creating. You don’t want or need additional stress after all.

But I thought you said it was stress?

I did.

Occasionally you will be met with a blank spot in your mind where an idea should be. This is fine. It’s bad for deadlines, but ok for you. Try not to panic, that’s key. The one thing you should do is alleviate that stress. Work it out as well as you can and as quickly as you can without building onto it. This may mean that you have to stop. Understand the necessity of this.

Really, everyone is different. We handle this stuff differently. You may need to take less time than you’d expect to get the ball rolling, so to speak. You might also need more. Pushing through the mental block may be the way to go for you as well.

For many of us the block is there and it’s real. Hopefully, some of the things I mentioned help. If they don’t, if you find another way, I encourage everyone to share. As always, I hope the best for you.

 

Yours,

 

Nathan

A Time to Create

When I am writing this, it is 3AM.

I cannot sleep.

Despite my prescribed sleeping medication, not actually prescribed to help remedy a sleep issue, funny enough, I am awake. What makes this great is that the internet is currently down as well. It’s really the perfect combination.

Although, in a way, I’m grateful. I wouldn’t be writing right now if the scenario were different. I’d be watching a video on YouTube or Netflix. We all know that most of writing on a computer is comprised of a page here followed by 40 minutes of Internet access, rinse and repeat. Maybe looking up a recipe or googling symptoms to a disease that I swear I’ve just contracted within the time I was asleep. Because it’s probably not really insomnia if I was asleep moments ago, right?

The thing is I’m writing. I’m creating. Everyone has different cycles when it comes to their ability to create. You may have noticed that you perform better at certain points in the day. A lot of writers, for instance, are cursed with the inane ability to write proficiently around 3AM and not really any other time. And this can be a tricky thing to figure out unless you’re in my scenario or a similar one, because distractions lay everywhere in the Modern or Postmodern world, depending on who you ask.

I normally create during the day. I like the sun being out and birds flying overhead. I’ll even go to the park when I’m not at work, watch the birds hop along the sidewalk, heads tilted with goofy expressions. I’ll take out a notebook from my back pocket and a pen from my front one and write whatever comes to mind or what I need to. I’ll feel a breeze roll over me.

Do you know when and where the best time and place to create is for you? It can be a pivotal moment. If you figure it out, you can set a schedule to work specifically during that time and/or place. It can be unfortunate if you find it’s during late hours, but that can also give you a reason to work late shifts or stay up on weekends, if you weren’t already.

Most of us discover this by accident. Case in point. I had an inkling I might be good for writing in the early hours, but I wouldn’t have known without my brain keeping me up like it is now. Of course, I’m well content with my day writing. I’m less tired that way. I don’t want nor intend for this to become habitual. I say that if it works for your, fits into your routine, then go for it. Otherwise, do test other times of day and/or night. Despite what I just said about it usually being found by accident, you can still intentionally seek it out, I promise. It’s just a lot of guess and check type stuff. But you’ll never know unless you try. I highly encourage, if you want to create, you try.

I also hope that you never find yourself in this situation, but it happens.

 

All the best and lots of love,

Nathan