“You have more traveling ahead, but remember your main reasons for going. Not to escape or cross things off lists but to learn to be more open, more okay with uncertainty. To feel to your core how big the world is, and how narrow your own empire. Remember that no matter where you go, you always end up alone with your thoughts. This is your true home and its landscape is vast and much uncharted. You can travel there at any time, and the flights aren’t nearly as expensive.”

So You Want to be a Writer

by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

“An alternative is to be happy wherever you are, with whatever you’ve got, but always hungry for the thrill of creating art, of being missed if you’re gone and most of all, doing important work.”
I absolutely loved today’s blog post from Seth Godin. It was exactly what I needed to hear and a perfect way to start my morning.

Putting a Dent in the Universe

With a bit of extra time this Thanksgiving weekend, I was able to finally finish Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography Steve Jobs. Filled with emotions, I preordered it the night Steve died and had been working through it ever since. No one has had more of an influence and been more an inpiration on my work than Jobs and I was excited to get an inside look at his life and work.

I knew I would love the book and I did. I had a hard time putting it down many nights and stayed up much later than I should have reading four, five, six chapters in one sitting. But then there were other times—and this I didn’t expect—where I had to put the book down, where I couldn’t bring myself to read another page because I suddenly had the urge to go make something of my own.

A constant thread through Steve’s life was his focus on making great products, on “putting a dent in the universe” by making a product that would change the world. This book made that passion and that focus palpable and contagious.

I laughed when he would berate employees when they produced anything short of perfection and I cried when the cancer returned and kept him in bed, slowly eating away his body. But more than anything, I closed the book inspired, knowing I have work of my own to do and that I need to start now because I don’t know what the future will bring. But if I work hard enough, I can create my own future, and though it will pale in comparison to what Steve gave us, I can put my own little dent in the universe.

“[E]verything we do, everything we make, is not about the beginning or the end of things. We may draw a line, but we are in the thick of life. We make for these middle parts. Every time we sit down to write, draw, design, paint, dance, we do so because we believe there will be a tomorrow. Every movement and each creation says, “The world is not done yet.” To make is to be optimistic. We get to make tomorrow for ourselves and one another, and we are lucky, because we are allowed to be engaged with the world and one another in this way.”

From Frank Chimero’s inspiring piece The Storm and The Line

We get to create tomorrow. Together, we can build a new world, a world that’s better than this one. That’s what great art does—it momentarily takes you out of this world and lets you see a glimpse of another world, a better world. A world we too can create.

This is one of those things you always know to be true deep down but sometimes it feels good to let someone else say it. This is one of the many reasons I can’t wait for Frank’s book.

Stars, Sharks, and Suffocation

The stars always put things into perspective for me. Sometimes I take walks after the sun goes down. I look up at the stars and I feel so insignificant, so small.

Sometimes I confuse my world with the world. I turn inward, thinking my problems are the biggest, my stresses the most consuming. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever get through it all. Then I look at the stars.

Because when I look at the stars, I see a big, beautiful world. It’s like stepping back for a bit to see the bigger the picture.

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Finals Week Text Playlist

It’s the last week of classes before finals so the next few days look to be fairly busy as I finish up a handful of class projects as well as a few freelance things that have come down the pipeline. That being said, posting may be quite sporadic this week as I juggle these things and get some work done.

At the beginning of the summer, Frank Chimero shared what he calls a “Text Playlist,” essentially a small collection of articles and blogposts he has saved that he returns to every few weeks to read. I too have a text playlist that I keep in Evernote that I return to every so often when I’m feeling down or depressed or cynical or just in need of a bit of encouragement. In a way, I guess, it’s my favorite corners of the internet that I want to run back to time and time again.

Considering I’ll be focused on other projects this week and have no idea how much time the blog will receive, I thought it’d be nice to share the list with you today. This should give you a healthy dose of quality reading to last you a week if you desire.

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The Most Important Thing I Learned About Art I Learned from a Children’s Movie

Recently, it seems like some of the most profound life lessons come from children’s movies. Toy Story 3 teaches us how to embrace the future without forgetting the past. Fantastic Mr. Fox is about family and learning who you are. Up is about how to experience life and find the adventure in the everyday.

I watched Ratatouille for the first time a few months ago and while it’s an adorable story about a rat who is an incredible chef, it also taught me something more. I’m already on record for being an adoring fan and sharing what it taught me about criticism but it taught me the purpose of art.

There is a scene towards the end of the movie where Remy, our rat-chef protagonist, must cook for the feared food critic Anton Ego. Remy chooses to make ratatouille, a simple dish and strange choice to serve your biggest critic. When Anton takes his first bite, the entire staff waits in fear for his response. That bite takes Anton Ego back to his childhood when his mother would make him ratatouille. It made him feel something.

It was in that moment that is all made sense to me. This is why we do what we do. It’s not to show off skills or to produce a slick piece of work. You can’t put metrics on art. You can’t force it through data. People are illogical and emotional beings. The most important works of art are those that connect with the audience on a deeper level. It moves them and changes them. “Sometimes the truth of a thing is not so much in the think of it,” said Stanley Kubrick, “but in the feel of it.”

Connect with your audience. Move them. It’s not enough to just present them with something pretty and well constructed. You need to make them feel.