Ignore everybody

by Hugh MacLeod

Hugh MacLeod, artist and writer, offers some sage advice:

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours.

3. Put the hours in.

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being “discovered” by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

7. Keep your day job.

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

11. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.

14. Dying young is overrated.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

16. The world is changing.

17. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.
19. Sing in your own voice.

20. The choice of media is irrelevant.

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

23. Worrying about “Commercial vs. Artistic” is a complete waste of time.
24. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

25. You have to find your own schtick.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

28. Power is never given. Power is taken.

29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

31. Remain frugal.

32. Allow your work to age with you.

33. Being Poor Sucks.

34. Beware of turning hobbies into jobs.

35. Savor obscurity while it lasts.

36. Start blogging.

37. Meaning Scales, People Don’t.

37. When your dreams become reality, they are no longer your dreams.


Enjoy more fun and insight from Hugh MacLeod at Gaping Void.



Thankful Thursday: Acknowledgements

When you get a book, what's the first thing you read?  The front cover raves? back cover blurbs? dedication?

I go straight to the Acknowledgements. This section, usually situated in the front of the book, often reveals an author's history and demeanor. Here, in many cases, is a listing of previous publications, writing group membership, fellowships earned, workshops attended, and even endearments.

Some writers maintain a distance, providing a straightforward accounting of publications in which the works first appeared. Others, like my friend who after 40 years of writing published her first book, gushed for two pages (in small type), reaching back to thank her grade school teachers.

I am intrigued with a writer's narrative, the thread of gratitude that chronicles a creative life.

The other day, on a long drive, I reached that trance-like state in which thoughts expand and unwind. What, I wondered, if I wrote my acknowledgements right now? What would my page include?

As I examined the turning points in my life — first job, influential teacher, kind doctor, family friend — I found a thread of people who had widened my path, lightened my heart, and energized my steps. My first "real" job, for example, offered a mentor, who later became a colleague, and 20 years later is my very good friend. And then there's the volunteer work writing with teens that stretched my heart and changed my life.

It's a great exercise, to find the thread of people and places that have pebbled your path. My Acknowledgements page grows each day, and I am flush with gratitude. 

It's Thankful Thursday! Gratitude. Appreciation. Praise. Please join me in a weekly pause to appreciate the people, places & things that bring joy. What are you thankful for today?


Come here often?

What's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?

No really, it's time for some market research. I need your help. In the interest of better blogging, I want to know:

How did you find me, and how will you find me again?

Do we know each other? Are we strangers connected only by this blog? And now that you are here, what keeps you coming back?

How do you read me? Through an email subscription? With Google Reader? With Blogger? With your own browser bookmark?  Or did you stumble upon this page in a website stupor (if so, happy to have you here, please have a seat, settle in).

So, do you come here often, and can I buy you a drink?



Begin here


Before you write
sit and notice your breath.

Allow a gentle carousel of words
to flow in their current around you,
then on your breath
into your space of longing
where hunger lies. Become

a body of invitation and hospitality
where words are welcome, where
breath moves freely, where sparks
ignite and your own fire burns.

— Linda Gelbrich

Go deeper:
Listen to this poem at Oregon Poetic Voices.



Kill your darlings

Orphans, confessions and artist statements

Today, I press against a story still moving.

I check my email. You are never there.
I do not know who you are.

This dense fist of worries, a mad distance.
Your voice in my ear, miles away.

This is not warning, sign or symptom. This is the artful unravel. 

I write letters in my head. Entire conversations exist in my mind.
We are fine, thanks for asking.

This is how much a letter means: At the post office I can’t wait to open my mail. In the car, I tear open the envelope and enjoy a surge of floating hope: I can do this, I think. This is life, driving home, making dinner, holding on.

Lived so long in gray, I’ve forgotten the taste of heat.

Know your part: In this poem and nearly every poem, I say we. I say all of us. This is false. There is no collective. There is only too much of me.

The postman says:
You look dressed up today
I showered, I say.
, he says, you clean up good.

I have enough ends. Tell me a story of starts.

 - Drew Myron

Kill your darlings, they say (William Faulkner, Mark Twain, and later Stephen King and many others). It's good advice. Every writer has “darlings," lines and passages that shine bright but just don't fit the current work. While I am an incessant editor, sometimes I just can't hit delete. Instead, I nudge my darlings to the curb and hope they find a home in my next poem (or the next . . . ). These are my orphans. I keep them close until they find a forever family.

Do you have orphans? What do you do with your little darlings?