This is another story without words called Flying Turtles.
Last week I decided to make a public commitment to publish a newsletter of creative inspiration every Friday for a year. There was one small detail missing: I had NO PLAN.
As usual, I just jumped right in, sharing some resources on how to face my fears because honestly, newsletters terrify me and I had no idea what else to write about.
All I know, is I NEED a newsletter. A newsletter is the perfect opportunity to actually force myself to get some work done.
Making the public commitment and facing my fears is the best thing I can do if I ever want any hope to actually publish my books, my art, and my music in the next upcoming year.
The good news is I don’t think the newsletter has any readers. And so, I shall write like nobody is watching. That’s usually how you end up writing your best stuff anyways.
Think about it: If you write something in your journal, it’s very personal. You know someone will probably not read it, so you’re more open to really actually saying what you want to say and you’re also more likely to just write in a stream-of-consciousness fashion.
You don’t worry about it having a structure or making sense – you aren’t writing for anyone to read it later – and so you just write, without editing, without thinking – you just write. You aren’t writing for an audience, you are writing selfishly, for yourself.
Writing selfishly for yourself is actually one of the key principles of Write Bad Poetry.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say here exactly, but I’m writing like nobody is watching, and that’s the only way I can truly write what my heart wants to say. There’s a lot of comfort for me sometimes knowing that no one cares.
One of the hard things about being a writer, artist, musician, or any type of person who produces anything for that matter, is knowing when and how, and what to edit.
If you’ve ever tried to write a paper, or a book, or even maybe a short article, it’s all too tempting to go through what you’ve written and start editing it as you go. Maybe you’ll go back to read what you wrote and change some words, cut and paste a sentence, add some text here or there.
While it seems like editing would make your work better – sometimes it can make it worse.
Being Real, Raw, and Yourself is the In Thing These Days
One of the reasons reality TV is popular is because it is supposed to be an unedited view of life. You see live people going through the regular steps of life. There’s no second take to change the words that come out of someone’s mouth or undo the actions that were done.
What’s so fascinating about watching someone’s regular daily life? Not really anything, except knowing that whatever you are seeing is real. It’s not scripted or rehearsed – it’s real.
My husband was in a band for several years that could have been the best band to ever have graced the world. (And I’m not just saying that – they really had some amazing music!) But it never came to fruition because they edited too much.
They were constantly worried about having the right gear or rewriting the same song over and over again trying to reach perfection. Instead of going on to sell 300 million worldwide copies of their music, they just kept getting stuck in the rut of constant editing. They never made a record or sold even a single mp3 download before the band finally broke up.
The sad and ironic part of this? It’s their completely raw, unedited tracks that I’ve listened to that I like the best.
You Can’t Be Perfect, Being Yourself is The Next Best Thing
Nobody is perfect, and they never will be. And while we all know that, we still strive to be perfect even though it’s impossible. While yes, you should be the best you can be, if you spend too much time trying to be perfect, you won’t be anything at all.
It’s always better to do something, anything – even if completely imperfect, than to let your talent go to waste.
Some tips to help you stop self editing all the time:
Give Yourself a Time Limit:
This really helps me A LOT because I could spend two hours editing a photo in Photoshop or mulling over the line spacing and wording in something I write. If I give myself a time limit, I work a lot more efficiently.
Graciously Accept & Fix Your Mistakes:
Many years of working in horrible customer service jobs has taught me to never take criticism personally.
If you make a mistake just say “Oh! Glad you noticed that!” And then fix it.
Sure, you should work with care and try to avoid making mistakes – but everyone makes mistakes. Most mistakes are learning opportunities anyways.
Don’t Ask for an Opinion When You Know What You Have is Right:
I love my hubby and I trust his opinion and judgement on a lot of things. But often times, if I’m working on a project, I’ll ask him what he thinks – and it ends up making me change stuff that before was just fine the way it was. There’s a lot of “noise” out there – sometimes just listening to your first instinct is the way to go.
Sure, some things need to be edited, and when they are edited they might turn out better – but sometimes they turn out worse. And sometimes, that time spent editing, could be better spent creating.
When I write, I try not to read back and change what I write. If I record something, I don’t listen to it – otherwise I’m sure I’ll end up trying to redo it over and over again, and none of the later tries will be any better than the first one!
If something is fine the way it is, then leave it alone! It’s hard to make something “better” if it’s already good!
Strengthen Your Weaknesses:
Just about any skill can be acquired with practice or training. If you know what you’re not very good at, either enlist someone better at it to do it for you, or do what you need to do to become better at it. Don’t waste time worrying that you’re not good enough to do something – take the time to improve your skills instead.
Above all, be real. Be you. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks.
One of the good – or I guess bad things – about releasing a horrible album like Songs for Sheep, is it is the perfect fuel for getting the “good stuff” done and out there.
If I got eaten by a bear tomorrow, I’d be horrified that the only music I ever got out there in the world was something so terrible.
And that’s the thing with life – you don’t know how long you will be here.
Bad is Better than nothing
Putting really bad stuff out there is the perfect fuel to get as much stuff released out in the world as best and as fast as you can – whether or not it’s perfect, whether or not it’s any good – it’s better to have something that nothing!
Last week I ventured into my parent’s attic to retrieve all of their old cassette tapes. My parents are actually really good and talented musicians, and so a lot of those cassette tapes are of their own original songs, 30 years of playing weddings and even some sing-a-longs they recorded to send to my Dad’s uncles to listen to and sing along with.
One of the cassette tapes my mom recorded needs to become a real album. It deserves being released properly – but at the same time, I’m terrified that by the time we get around to recording and editing and polishing it up – what if none of us are still here to do that?
If you’ve listened to my song Everybody Knows and read the story behind it, you’ll understand a lot more about why it’s so important for me to get bad stuff out there rather than striving for perfection – and also a big part of the story on why the music sat so lonely in the attic all these years.
WHERE DO I EVEN START? HOW DO I GET THE THINGS I WANT TO DO DONE FASTER?
I have so much stuff I want to release – I don’t even know where to start. My to-do list is never ending. So it was very timely this morning on Facebook to see my friend Paul shared a link to this video by Jordan Raynor.
I bought his book Redeeming Time, because this Bible verse really spoke to me:
Hopefully I’ll figure out by chapter 2 what I’m saying yes to, and what I’m saying no to, because juggling too many things at once and wearing 10,000 different hats is exhausting – and I’m not helping or serving any one that way.
My grandma always used to say “The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” and I think that’s part of why this spoke to me so much. We can’t just intend to do something – we have do it. And if you’re not going to do something, don’t say you will.
So, I will do all the things I’m saying yes to – and they will probably be done badly. But getting these “open loops” as Jordan calls them closed, will be better for all of us. Something done badly is better than not doing it at all.
Anyways, that’s all I can write for today, but that’s where my thoughts are, and I’m writing like nobody is watching anyways. 🙂
All over the country tonight there will be ghosts, goblins, and Frozen Elsas knocking on your door asking for candy. And you’ll open the door wide open, place little treats in their bags, smile at them, and wish them a good night.
It’s an amazing act of kindness and generosity – even if it seems so small, it makes a difference in the lives of those kids, shaping fond Halloween memories that will stick with them for their entire lives and what Halloween means to them when they grow up and they have kids of their own.
Today is Halloween, and for me, this day is not so much about ghosts and those kinds of spirits as much as it is about the spirit of giving.
It begins a time of year when we are on the brink of our darkest days with no sunshine, yet the spirit of giving lights the way all through now until the end of the year.
Art for the Beginning of the Giving Season: Light the Sky
I made some art last night for Journal52, inspired by one of my favorite quotes about giving:
The Irony of Those Who Give the Most
It’s important to remember that just like costumes on Halloween, things are not always as they appear.
Sometimes, those who give the most are not always those with the most to give.
Sometimes, those who are “poor” financially are some of the most vibrant, “richest”, giving people you’ll ever meet.
Before I go off to trick or treat with my kiddos, I’d like to share a great story I heard many, many years ago by Eddie Ogan: “The Rich Family in Our Church”.
The story goes like this:
A church announces they will have a special collection to help a poor family in their congregation. So, wanting to help as much as possible, a widow and her 7 children hustle, scrimp & save (literally living off of potatoes) to be able to contribute to the collection.
They made $70 to give to this poor family – only to find out they were the poor family the church was helping.
The minister drove to their house later that Sunday afternoon with $87 – so not only were they the “poor family” – they were the largest contributors!Eddie Ogan, The Rich Family in Our Church
It’s an interesting story, isn’t it? Always gets me thinking.
I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween this year…May you Light the Sky in the spirit of giving as we dive into the darkness and the beginning of the giving season this year!
Social media can be depressing as hell sometimes. Let’s look at what happens:
Common Scenario #1 – No one notices your updates
You post something on your wall and NO ONE responds to what you posted at all. Doesn’t matter how awesome or clever it is. Could be the cure for cancer, the secret to everlasting happiness, an offer to send everyone who comments $1 zillion dollars instantly with no strings attached.
No one clicks, pluses, likes, retweets. After about a day goes by with no reaction or feedback, you start thinking you’d be happy with someone writing the comment “this just made me vomit all over my shoes” because that would mean someone at least has acknowledged you exist.
Meanwhile, you notice someone who posts complete babble, like “♥♥♥♥ OMG! Glitter chapstick! ♥♥♥♥♥♥” or “Check out these awesome regurgitated SEO tips I totally just stole from some other internet guru!” and you’ll see it has 300 likes and about 52 comments.
Common Scenario #2 – Your comments totally get ignored:
Someone posts a question on their wall. “What’s your favorite color?” they ask.
You write “I love the color orange!” and maybe 1-2 other people chime in, they like red and blue. The person asking the question responds “I love red and blue too!”
You are notified that they commented, and then the other commenters start replying back and they have a whole conversation about red and blue but no one says anything about you liking the color orange.
In real life, we’d probably feel really awkward if you stood next to a group of people completely ignoring you and move on to someone else to talk to.
In social media, not only do you get that initial sad reaction of “geez, they didn’t even respond to my contribution to this discussion” – you also get about 10 notifications that you are being totally and completely ignored and left out.
Common Scenario #3 – You realize you have no friends or family:
On Google+ I have more complete strangers in my circles than I do friends and family combined. On Facebook, the ratio appears a little more balanced, but in reality, is not a whole lot better. In this scenario, let’s define a “real” friend as someone you talk to in person or on the phone and see in person at least 2-3 times a year. I think I only need one hand to count.
Common Scenario #4 – You Are Left Out of Cool Events:
You know Person A and Person B and consider them both friends of yours. Until Person A and Person B make all these plans on Facebook.
You know, Person A posts “Can’t wait to go scuba diving in Aruba with Person B later!” and Person B posts on their wall “Yay for scuba diving in Aruba with Person A!”
And you’re like, geez. I wasn’t invited. And I LOVE SCUBA DIVING! And they BOTH know that! I thought they were my friends!
Honestly, sometimes using social media makes me want to go sob uncontrollably in a closet somewhere. Silly untrue thoughts pop into your head: No one really likes me. I have no friends. My family doesn’t care about me. I will never fit in. I must suck at life. This is like being in middle school all over again.
Thankfully I know I am awesome (even if no one else believes that!) and love my kids and husband (who do not use social networking sites) – so there is no need to worry about me being depressed or being stressed out. I do not really cry in a corner anywhere. Why? Because I realize there is a big difference between what you see online and what you see offline.
Social media is not WYSIWYG! You don’t know what the people on the other side of the screen see and think.
I like to think your friends wouldn’t really ignore you if you were standing next to them in a conversation. They don’t mean to rub it in your face they are doing something awesome without you. It’s not that they didn’t want to read your updates, they just never saw it with all the other crap posted onto these networks every day.
It’s not that they don’t want to see you or don’t like you, there’s just a zillion other things happening instead.
It’s not that no one cares about you, it’s just that no one cares.
Sometimes I write music well suited for crime shows and dramatic film as a fun creative outlet.
Perfect for those late nights you feel like chasing down ghosts, solving mysteries, running away from aliens, storming the castle, writing that novel or screenplay you’ve been thinking about…
This is Everything Must Go…
This song started out as an attempt to write my own dubstep song. I love listening to dubstep, so I set out to learn all about what dubstep song construction looked like. I learned about bass swells and cool tricks to get a realistic sounding hi-hat drum, I learned about the build-ups and everything else that goes into a dubstep style song.
I decided to go with the key of B minor – one of my next favorite keys to A minor – and within 2-3 days the song was finished. Within a week, it was mastered and released.
About the song title + Artwork
I didn’t set out to make this song about anything in particular, but as I was writing and listening to it, I pictured someone cleaning up after some kind of devastation – moving furniture, throwing dishes, dealing with pain and sorrow. All the events of the devastation led up to the build up and the release for the chorus.
The artwork was created with a Photoshop blending technique I developed back in the days when I was designing digital scrapbooking kits full-time. I took 4 public domain photos and played around with them until I had the cover art.