The Sad Truth About Art

Apparently there seems this ideal, prevalent among artists, of some space or time where they could safely pursue their creativity. Melville called, “The Calm” or something like that. Well there is a problem with this, that I shall demonstrate simply with these words, “With no sand, the oyster makes no pearl.

According to my understanding, a pearl is made inside an oyster when a grain of sand gets in, causing the pearl to secrete a substance around it, which over time (I have no idea how long) becomes a pearl. I assume the more time it spends in the oyster, and the older the oyster gets, the more beautiful the pearl.

There is one rule relevant to the artist, and I advise you write this down: “Art does not exist in a vacuum.” In other words, the irritants in the world and, more specifically, in your life, are those things that, when worked over and smoothed through art, become the masterpieces all artists secretly long to create.

Also there is no perfect way, technology currently notwithstanding, to draw from your head the exact, beautiful ideal you have in your mind. All you can do is tease it out as best you can, and you have to try, or it will come to life, take a few breaths, then die right there inside your noggin’.

So toss out both of these foolish ideals. There is no artist’s heaven in our sometimes heavily censored and materialistic modern society. Even though wonderful things like Netflix and YouTube exist because of artists, how the world works is generally without acknowledgement or appreciation of our work. Why do you think you encounter so many wonderful musicians along the sidewalks, standing or sitting as they preform with an opened instrument case or upturned hat close by?

So stop looking for that perfect space in which to create – even if you were to find it no creativity would be possible inside it. Likewise quit seeking to support yourself with your creativity. It is antithetical to all muses to be the provider in the relationship. That, unfortunately, is your job! But be thankful, because your annoying boss or coworker are just more grist for the mill. Turn everything you dislike or outright hate into a beautiful pearl!

I am not just writing this advise for you. I am writing it for myself also. I have struggled with writing, specifically having no interest in being a “professional writer”, despite my gifted understanding and use of the English language. In other words, I am a Poet and a Writer, but I would rather play video games and make content for YouTube.

Also I hate the “daily grind”, even the idea of it, even more passionately than most. But it has become clear to me that it is time to embrace this unwanted part of myself, and in order to pursue writing in any form, I will have to find a way to earn some money to clothe and feed myself. That is just how it is. I can wish all I want that it would be different or easier. But, as they say, “It Is What It Is.

Embrace the irritants, the negativity and the struggle. Acknowledge it, come to terms with it, make peace with it, accept it. Don’t try to spit the particle of sand out, or you will never make a beautiful pearl! Work it in your mind, secrete your secret desires and longings around it. Express yourself in whatever creative medium that most draws you. Create and transform all your undesirable experiences or situations into beautiful works of art. You can do it, I know you can.

Believe in yourself.

What Is Working In My Writing?

Sage Cohen, in her book, “Fierce on the Page“, talks about focusing on what is working, instead of what is not (chapter 13). As I took a look at myself, all I could think about is what is not working, what I am not doing. Obviously I am focused on what is not working if these are my thoughts. Especially since I am struggling to pinpoint what is working in my writing life.

So, in my writing, what is working? I thought I would sit down and work this out in a blog post, as my last blog post kinda sucked (again, focused on what is not working.) You can do this with me. What is working in your creative life, in whatever way you express yourself creatively?

For me, one of the things I love about when I am writing is when I sit down and sort of fall into a flow state, AKA “The Zone.” When I just get lost in a story I am telling, and it’s like I am experiencing the story at the same time I am writing it. Which, going back to what is not working, why it hurts me so much, why it sucks so much, when I loose the thread and can no longer “pick up” the story. I hate that!

Something else that works for me in my writing is how some things I am working on seem to resonate with me. I have a bunch of shortcuts on my desk to various documents that I felt strongly connected to at the time I created them. I will likely write in one of these. It is so satisfying when you open up a document, and can “pick up the thread” as it were. When this happens I absolutely love it!

Another thing that was working for me in my writing and might work again, is my chosen established writing time. It wasn’t a huge victory, but enough of one that I noticed, when I managed to establish a writing habit. I accepted that I am a writer, made it clear to the others that live here when I am writing and identified myself to them as a writer, then wrote at that time. When I was doing this, it was nice to have that small victory in my writing process. It is also easier to fall back into it now that I have been away from it a while.

I love the high energy, high frequency, high vibration, positive state I am in when poetry comes. Those days when multiple poems would come at once. Nothing phased me, I was in love with the world, engaged with it and all I was experiencing around me, whether it was scenery I was watching or a breeze playing over my skin or the sounds of water flowing, or children playing. If I knew how to live in that state forever, I would. But when I find myself in this state, especially after long absences away, I just enjoy it, relish it and the poetry writing flows effortlessly.

I loved the stories I was able to complete. The short horror stories and, to my eyes, the satisfying endings. I loved creating those endings, and most if not all of the time I never had it planned out in my head. I had this idea for a story. I created a character, plunked them into the story and built it around them based on the idea. Then I watched things develop through their eyes, from the beginning to the end. I went through everything they went through. I lived the story with them. I got scared when they got scared. Then I would wrap everything up, and it hardly ever felt wrong. It felt right. It felt complete. I would like to return to writing short stories like that, and I would LOVE to be able to write longer tales the same way!

I love how certain things I read can have such an impact on me, even to the point of affecting my writing. I once started a story that was completely in rhyme, inspired by the Tolkien books. Managed to get through the first chapter or introduction, then lost it. But I would like to figure out how to access that way of writing, and do an entire short story, or even a novel, completely in rhyme, I am sure I could do it, if I could just figure out how to fall into a state conducive for that writing to happen.

I loved the beauty of that piece I linked you to in my last blog post. I can barely remember when I wrote it. But on discovering it, and reading it again all this time later, I cried a little. It spoke to me. I can hardly believe I wrote it. I can’t even recall the spirit or state I was in when I wrote it. I have some vague idea, but nothing concrete. Yet it says so eloquently what I wanted to say at the time, what I still want to say. I strongly desire to write more parables and things like this. I mean it worked for Kahlil Gibran!

I think that if when I sat down to write I experienced more of these things I enjoyed and loved and less of the struggle I have been wrestling with I would write a lot more. I would develop and grow as a writer much quicker. I know I denied this aspect of myself all these years, and there are consequences for that. I likely have a lot of slogging uphill in the mud to do before I get anywhere in my writing. But I am looking forward to that sunny, green hilltop. That alpine meadow with all the flowers, birds and a few hardy trees. That space where my writing has become more than habit, it has become my life, and I am literally putting my life energy into every word I type. Bleeding on the page energetically, in a state of ecstasy. I look forward to that day, and desire it to come soon!

So, reader, if you are a writer, what are the things that are working in your writing? If you are an artist what are the things that are working in your drawing, painting, sculpting, etc? Any advice or thoughts that you would care to share with everyone? Please comment below.

This Imperfect Circle

I find myself coming back around again to where I started, when I started this blog. A sort of imperfect Zen circle. A little gap because it is incomplete, because there is always more to learn, more to realize.

I named this blog Bliss Writer because Bliss was the last part of my internet moniker. Or at least I thought that’s why I named it that. But perhaps there was something more going on?

I watched the latest episode of Yahtzee’s Dev Diary today on YouTube, and he said something that woke me up a little. I always wondered how Stephen King could collect those rejection notices on a nail above his writing space, when he first started writing. The pressures of everyday life, all the resistance he must have encountered to his desire to write – none of it stopped him.

I think that’s because writing was his hobby. As Yahtzee said (not quoting him exactly), “If you don’t enjoy your hobby you need a new hobby.” Whatever thing you enjoy doing, that might be considered work by others, but does not seem like work to you, whatever it is you can do for years and years without any fame, recognition or monetary compensation, that should be your “hobby.” I would call it your passion.

If there is something you do that you do despite what anyone says, simply because you enjoy doing it, and can continue to do that thing even if it never brings you any money, then you have the right motivations. That should lead you to success. It is how Yahtzee started out with his Zero Punctuation game reviews. It is how Stephen King started his writing career.

If your hobby seems like work, then you need a new hobby. If you do whatever you enjoy doing because you want to become wealthy, then you have the wrong motivation. Even if you were to find success, it would be short-lived.

The quality of a “work” comes from the joy and love put into it. You can’t put joy and love into something if you intention is to become wealthy by it. You can only put joy and love into something you truly enjoy doing, and will do regardless of whether or not success comes to you.

I see now that writing is my hobby. But it has become corrupted by the wrong motivation. I have become discouraged, because it has never brought me any fame, money or recognition. I feel like you, my audience, do not appreciate my work, by your lack of support. So my writing has suffered.

I need to be able to come in here and write simply because I love to do it. I need to find the same motivation that Stephen King used that had him sending out letters to agents in the first place, and allowed him to not be bothered by their rejections. What started him in submitting his work? Whatever it was, it must have been pure, because it did not corrupt his writing, his hobby, his passion.

Writing has to become my Bliss, in other words. Bliss Writer needs to be a blog written in a state of bliss. Of pure enjoyment, no matter what obstacle I, the author, face. No matter what resistance I encounter. I must write for the joy of it. Writing will now be my hobby, the thing I can do for years to come without any need for any compensation, fame, money or recognition.

The only thing that troubles me is, with my uncertain future and current age, is how long do I really have to do invest in this, to follow this path when it may lead nowhere? But then again, if I am really writing in  a state of bliss, I would not be worried about that. I am sure Stephen King and Yahtzee never worried about the road ahead. I have to figure out how to let these fears and worries go and follow their examples.

I definitely have some internal work to do.

On Writing

All these
books on writing
asking me to recall
some pleasant memory
from my childhood,
but I cannot recall
even a single one!

Nothing. Nada.

All I remember
is leaving the house
all the time, biking
around the country
with my brother
collecting cans for
candy and junk food.

Where are those
happy memories
that others have?
Playing catch
with their dad
or learning how
to ride a bike?

Why don’t I have any?
Was my childhood
really that unhappy?
Or are unhappy things
easier to remember
and happy things
easier to forget?

I can not draw
any conclusions,
I just get stuck
on these types
of exercises
or am forced
to skip them.

Who knew writing was so hard?

It Is Time To Open

In doing things that we think of as requiring ability, skill or talent to do, we are like a flower. Some of us may bloom part way, never quite committing to our fullest potential. Some of us, while budded, may look around at others who have bloomed, and assume we can not bloom as beautifully, so we don’t even try. But how can we know what is inside of us unless we open and allow it to come out?

There is no ability, skill or talent to our blooming. Everyone is a flower, everyone can bloom, everyone has beauty inside that they can let out. Everyone has their own unique inner color and form. Nobody has a better color or a better form. We might perceive the blooming of another to be more beautiful in comparison to another or ourselves. We would refer to such a person as having ability, skill or talent. But that comparison exists only in our perception.

To whatever or whoever we call God, who walks among us and is the energy inside us that connects us all to each other, we are all, each and every one of us, bloomed or not, loved, exactly as we are. Whoever or whatever we call God does not love the ones we perceive to be beautiful more. Whoever or whatever we call God does not love the ones we perceive to be ugly less. When we see ourselves as beautiful or ugly, as having ability, skill or talent, or not, whoever or whatever we call God does not see this. Because whoever or whatever we call God knows exactly what we have inside.

When you approach something that really compels you, really draws you, really interests or speaks to you – something you have always wanted to do, something you may have enjoyed doing in the past, something you feel you would enjoy doing now, maybe even something you enjoy doing – that is the right time to throw out all your beliefs about ability, skill or talent. That is a good time to allow yourself to do whatever this is to your fullest potential to do so, in your own unique way.

For me there are two things that fit this description. Drawing and singing. What is it you hear about both of these? That you have to practice a lot, that you have to train yourself, right? Also that there are these things called ability, skill or talent, and that you have to have one of these draw or sing. It is easy to justify the belief in these things. If I sat down and tried to draw something I would think of as beautiful and technically proficient, in other words, if I were to sit down and try to create a drawing that would look photo realistic (photo realism being the ideal of perfection) but only managed to do something simple, maybe a step up from a stick figure, I would assume (and most would say correctly) that I have no ability, skill or talent for drawing. Or, if these others are a little nicer (or they want money from me) they would tell me something like, “All you need is training. Practice drawing every day and you will get better!”

This is what usually happens when us flowers converse among each other. When we are younger we draw to the best of our ability. But as we get older and continue to draw the same way be come to believe we can not draw. When we are younger we sing and we don’t care who is listening or how we sound. As we grow older, if we are lucky not to have others criticizing us, we hear ourselves and are not happy that we don’t sound like our favorite singer, our idol, at the time. In both cases we give up. It is always due to criticism, from others, from ourselves, or from others and ourselves. We never allow ourselves to draw or sing as beautifully and uniquely as only we can. We never fully open, never showing our inner beauty to others, never allowing the light outside to come in. It is only in openness that the light can come into us, and it is only in openness that we can show our unique beauty and form. It is only when we are fully open that we can do that thing we want so desperately to do to the fullest of our ability, in our own unique way.

What I have been doing, after reading, “Illusions” by Richard Bach (in reference to when Shimoda picks up the guitar at the hardware store) is allowing myself to draw. I used to say to my highest ability, but I see the belief systems embedded there now, so I think a better way to say it is to my fullest potential. Or I could keep it simple, I am allowing myself to draw. There is this desire however that has me wanting to draw masterfully. I can already draw. I am not happy with my drawing at this point. I assume that I am not allowing myself to draw to my fullest extent or potential. I believe, still, that practice and training are required to draw what I would call well. But, to paraphrases Shimoda, “Then that is exactly how it will be.”

If I believe I must practice and train myself to open fully to my drawing, and my singing, if I believe it must be hard, that I must work for it, as society and the world, for the most part, says it does, then I will have to practice and train to get better. It will be hard, it will be work, I will have to work at it. Also, there is a limit to what I can do, based on the concepts of ability, skill and talent. My vocal range can only go so far. Any singing teacher would tell me this. I could go to a doctor and get a professional opinion regarding it. It seems logical, it must be right. Right?

Wrong. It is all only what I call an “apparent reality.” The “real world” is an illusion, and all “apparent reality” is a part of that illusion. It is reality as defined by the perceptions, collectively and individually, of others. Of the majority, in most cases. It is called reality because, “It has always been that way” or “It as been that way for as long as I can remember” or because “That was how I have been taught” or because “I have a degree that says it is so” on and on it goes. But no reality is really real, it is only apparently real, only as real as we collectively and individually choose it to be. Another possible reality is that everyone can draw or sing, regardless of ability, skill or talent, and without any prating or training.

We live in dualism, which means that if one reality exists, so does its opposite. If there is a reality where we have to learn to draw and sing, where we have to practice it to get better, and we are limited by ability, skill or talent, then there has to exist another reality where none of this is true. You can’t get around it. If you believe in good then evil also exists for you. No matter how much you may deny it. Where one thing exists, so exists its opposite, this is the law of dualism. Where there is something you love, there also exists something you hate. Where there is something you desire, there also exists something you do not desire.

Richard Bach demonstrates this beautifully and simply by his character Shimoda, picking up the guitar, and playing it in such a way we would define it as beautifully or skillfully. But Shimoda had never played a guitar before in his life. He had no ability, skill or talent, no practicing or training. He wanted to play, so he picked up the guitar and allowed himself to play. This is what I am doing in regards to my drawing. What I will do in regards to singing. I am allowing myself to do it, and gently but persistently removing any beliefs to the contrary. I am determined to open fully, to no longer be partly open. To allow myself to do all the things I have always wanted to do, whatever they are.

Why do we choose to believe that we must have ability, skill or talent? That we have to practice and receive training in order to do well? Does a flower need ability, skill or talent to open? Does a flower have to practice openness? Does a flower have to be trained how to be open? No. Flowers open naturally. In fact nothing could be more natural for a flower. It is the same for us. Our opening is just as natural to us as our breathing. We have no more need for ability skill, talent, to practice or be trained, to open than we need them to breathe.

I am already doing this in my writing. Although you could argue that I have always had a natural penchant for it, that I have always been good at it, that I have been writing for years so I have a lot of practice, all that would produce is technically perfect writing. It is writing most people would look at all think of as good. But it is not easy, flowing, natural writing. It is not writing would contain all my unique beauty and form. It is not writing from inside of me, maybe a natural flow from my Higher Self through me.

Maybe the difference is not detectable. Maybe only you, the reader, will notice any sort of change. But on my end I can tell you the writing I am doing right now, in this moment, feels better. It feels higher somehow. It feels more free and open somehow. That is writing coming from a full blooming, a full blossoming of my expression through words. Allowing the light to come in and go out from my unique beauty and form.

This is how I wish to draw and sing. This is how I wish to do everything that I have even the remotest interest in. From dancing to barefoot running. Whatever it is I want to do, I wish to do it from a state of full openness. It is this state of full openness I seek to, that I wish to, guide you towards. Somehow, I don’t know how (and the how is not my business anyway) I will do so.

It is time for a new way to teach, not a teaching that implies others must be trained. Not a teaching that requires training. But a teaching that guides, a teaching that brings a remembering, because you all already know everything I have said to you here. At some level, deep inside, even though you may choose to ignore it or may not recognize it, you can feel the validity of everything I have said to you here. You are beginning to remember, and in that remembering, you will open.

So the kind of teaching I wish to do is a guiding to your opening, in the familiar guise or role of a teacher. Someone you may see as having great ability, skill or talent, showing you how a thing such as drawing is done. But I would have no great experience, no professional training. I would not be practicing every day. I would simply be expressing myself through drawing, whenever the desire for expression comes to me, and allowing myself to do so to my fullest potential, fully open, in my own unique way.

That is the goal, if I was one to set goals, and in general, I am not. It would be more accurate to call this commitment, right now, in this present moment, I am committing to doing this, setting the intention to do this. I the meantime I will continue to apply it to my own life, and work through the beliefs that create resistance between me and the fulfillment of my desires and intentions.