August 5, 2004

you are responsible for your own experience


More thoughts on "How To Be Creative":

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

Nobody can tell you if what you're doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.
Every creative person is looking for "The Big Idea". You know, the one that is going to catapult them out from the murky depths of obscurity and on to the highest planes of incandescent ludicity.

The one that's all love-at-first-sight with the Zeitgeist.

The one that's going to get them invited to all the right parties, metaphorical or otherwise.

So naturally you ask yourself, if and when you finally come up with The Big Idea, after years of toil, struggle and doubt, how do you know whether or not it is "The One"?

Answer: You don't.

There's no glorious swelling of existential triumph.

That's not what happens.

All you get is this rather kvetchy voice inside you that seems to say, "This is totally stupid.This is utterly moronic. This is a complete waste of time. I'm going to do it anyway."

And you go do it anyway.

Second-rate ideas like glorious swellings far more. Keeps them alive longer.

Posted by hugh macleod at August 5, 2004 10:21 PM | TrackBack

You get up and write it in soap on the bathroom mirror at 3 am, in the dark, and you can read it and understand it and it still gets you excited when you see in at 6.

Posted by: heading out at August 6, 2004 1:42 AM

Dipping down the scale a touch. Third & fourth rate ideas come far quicker and in much greater quantity the more alcohol one consumes.

Posted by: pieman at August 6, 2004 2:58 AM

True, of course it depends on the person. Sparing names, alcoholism has plagued lots of writers, I think because alcohol sometimes helps to get those 3rd and 4th rate ideas down on paper for to be expanded upon later and made into 2nd and sometimes 1st rate ideas. Much of the process of creation is getting ideas out of the head and down onto paper, and alcohol, although def. damaging, has I think, helped to facilitate that part of the creation process, the letting go and getting the ideas down part.

Posted by: nick at August 6, 2004 6:05 AM

Hey man, been reading your trip for a while. Pretty interesting. I lived in NYC for 6 years and have been living in LA for the past three. I appreciate you appreciating my music via Anyway, i am currently going through a crisis. I have a record, spent all my $ on touring, gigging, recording, partying,etc in the hopes that the bid pay day would arrive. It feels like it could happen at any second. So i am essentially bankrupt in my pursuit of rock-n-roll...i know i'm not going to quit i just can't find a way to find work in LA that makes sense. No one works out here...everyone's a rock star...i've been thinking about heading back to the city again to continue pushing least there i can get a job, not need a car, and feel like i'm in the real world. I don't man, any thoughts?

Posted by: Brad Byrd at August 6, 2004 7:25 AM

Brad, it sounds like a good plan, at least on paper. I think creatives respond well to lots of contact with other people. In LA one is more sealed off from others by their automobiles etc.

But LA has its good points. I do think it's a place that needs (a) a terrific idea and (b) a diamond-hard sense of purpose. Turning up there without a plan and just hoping for the best is the kiss of death in LA.

The trouble with New York for the stuggling artist is- every 3rd struggling artist in the country and their uncle has has the same idea as you. Bohemia is a crowded market.

A big cultural shift is going on with the musician community, and it's painful. The record deal is no longer the light at the end of the tunnel it once was. So a lot of musicians are feeling stuck in the dark. A new light is needed.

Posted by: hugh macleod at August 6, 2004 10:15 AM

I like the pages and this cartoon, but learning to be a shepherd means you get to play creatively with both the sheep and the wolves.

Posted by: Miguel at August 12, 2004 3:44 PM