Owning a masterpiece

It’s in every art collector’s dreams to own a piece of history. It defines a gallery to show off a master’s work. It is considered a massive show of generosity to lend one out as has recently happened with a Monet picture (link) …But…

But far more interesting is trying to create your own masterpiece. Clearly we can’t all be Monet or start a movement like the impressionists did. However, we can refine our skills and take the necessary care over a piece of art to call ourselves its master. Some questions to consider in creating your own masterpiece:

  • How much do you know about the history of what you are creating? What came before the piece you are working on? Influences? Track record?
  • Why are you making what you make? For profit? For Community? For Impact? Surprise? Delight? Efficiency?
  • Where’s the risk in your work? Was it guaranteed to work or could it have failed?

Second Guess

Eventually you are going to second guess yourself. This may happen in the dreaming phase, the creative phase, the editing phase. But it will happen in the course of a project. The question is what will you do?

One interpretation of this second guessing is that it is the dreaded “creative block” or “writer’s block” at play. If so, why not copy Trenton Doyle Hancock and double down on your risk taking and move on?

There’s also a lot of comfort in the idea that the uncertain, fractured self is the true self. Let it be and have confidence that whatever decision you make will be the right one, so long as you make one!

Also important in my life is the idea that home is a comfort. When you are lost and unsure, home is often the place to look. Where do you come from? To work against this is to work against your nature.


Why do you write?

There’s a really interesting interview with an author called Tao Lin in the latest “Creative Independent” newsletter. (See link) In it, Mr Lin describes his motivation for keeping disciplined and motivated:

“A long-term strategy I have for staying disciplined and motivated is to keep learning about the ways in which my mind and body have been damaged from trillions of dollars of advertisements, thousands of synthetic compounds, multigenerational malnourishment, an unnatural microbiome, and other things new to the human species, and to continue increasing my understanding of what I can do to heal myself gradually years and decades. Focusing on this long-term strategy, I can rationally remain optimistic in a painful, confusing world. “

Hectic! But also kind of cool. This is his own personal higher cause for his projects. Much like I mentioned in a previous post, I think to keep motivation requires a cause, a community or a goal that is beyond self-gratification and vanity. Lin’s motivation is pushed by an environmental narrative, and an anti-imperialist/anti-capitalist narrative which is pushing him to write down “400,000+ words of notes on my life and other things since 2013”.

It’s not that I agree with everything he says, it is that I see the results of his strategy and I want some of that mojo 🙂


Creativity through simplification 

Some recent steps I have taken to improve my focus and save time for what matters:

  • No more Facebook. Account deleted completely 
  • No more gaming – selling console
  • Re-finding my Kindle – purpose built for reading, this is the gadget that keeps giving. You can’t be a good writer without being a good reader
  • Whittling down my internet accounts. As well as Facebook, I had Twitter, Instagram, three different email addresses, other blogs, and the list goes on. I realized that the reason I wasn’t creating as much as I wanted was not a lack of accounts, connections with friends or lack of tools…rather it is a lack of focus. Fewer accounts and gadgets – focus on those you actually need.
  • Fixing up my house and my office – I’m not good at this but when I try to fix stuff, it helps my sense of satisfaction and consequent focus no end.

The next step is to partake more in communities of like minded people in the flesh. I’m thinking writers groups, and arty types who I don’t seem to have in my life at the moment. 

Life is a journey not a destination, right?