Everybody seems to be doing the “list” thing these days. Buzzfeed started it; I think that’s how it went, anyway. But then everyone else followed suit. It’s quick and easy internet fodder, ammiright? And unfortunately, clever gets mistaken for talent online all day everyday. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying there aren’t some entertaining lists out there. I’m just saying I have a problem with the trend.
A list is a way to say something, but without putting a whole lot of heart in it (not to mention soul). That’s super sad. Me? I like to get at the heart of a thing.
Now, I’d be lying if I claimed I’ve never been entertained by a list like “10 Organ Recipients Who Took On The Traits Of Their Donors” or “21 Hilarious Tweets That Will Make You Question Everything.” However, I can honestly say I only go to sites with lists like that when I’m irretrievably bored.
This list thing that’s overtaken the interverse is also sad because, well? It seems so on-trend with the direction America is taking these days. They’re bundled up cheap thrills that keep us occupied from otherwise having any kind of productive, provocative or creative thoughts.
This morning I thought I’d try to dump that premise – the one that says we’re becoming less productive, provocative, and creative because things – on its head and ask: WHAT IF I write a story in list form? Hmmm, interesting… Besides, I’m always up for a challenge, so here, uhhh, for better or worse, is my first try at it.
(It’s certainly not the best story I’ve written, but I’d say it’s not completely smelly-bad for a first try.) What do you think?
I’m gonna make my 2016 about exploring and experimentation. Last year I focused on writing: finding my voice, finding my confidence, finding a rhythm to write by. Now that we’re at the end of 2015, I find that I like my voice. I think I write from interesting angles and I like to explore.
This coming year, 2016, will be my time to figure out where the people are who might want to read what I’ve written. My tribe. I need to learn where I can make my writing a profession. Need is an interesting word to use, though. I guess I don’t really need to, but I want to contribute my share doing what I love to do. That’s my goal; by year’s end, but by July 1st would be even better!
I’ll write a blog about exploring, whatever strikes my fancy to explore on any given day. I’ll write blog posts freelance. I’ll tweet and text and email and post when I’ve written something. I’ll learn how to promote myself without feeling like an asshole.
My question is, who wants advice from a 50 year-old woman who admittedly doesn’t have it all together? Although my intent is not to advise, actually. It’s to demonstrate how I go about experimenting my way through life. It’s how I like to frame things.
So how will I measure? I guess the biggest difference in the way I do it is that I measure quality of life first. If I’m not happy with the way I’m spending my time, I’m just wasting it, and there’s nothing I hate worse than to waste stuff.
I am tenderhearted and emotional. I am sensitive and hormonal and a lover of the nonsensical. I am also an analytical thinker at heart.
I have the brain of a scientist: I am skeptical until something is proven true. It’s the logical approach, but it’s not always the easy way to live life, constantly analyzing. It’s all too easy to become unbalanced…
…to the point of ridiculousness. I will analyze the hell out of a passing conversation with a stranger at the grocery store. Not because that encounter has any real impact on my life, but maybe I used the word “sometimes” when I should have said “always.” Maybe I was in line behind a mother with her disabled child and stared a hair of a second too long. This made us all uncomfortable. I was curious and wondering how I would handle the situation if our roles were reversed. Regardless, I stared too long and that poor mother felt defensive. And I caused it. I could dwell on that for days.
On the flip side, I have used my powers of analytical thought to put odd pieces of my experience together and create something totally new. I worked on a software project several years ago and came across a problem where the hospital was missing EKG charges. The solution I designed was simple, easy to implement, and saved the hospital thousands of dollars. Nobody else on my team could see it and I had some convincing to do, but in the end? It was a beautiful thing.
As I move further through these 30 days of self…. analysis (winky face), I am coming to better understand myself. This was my point, so I’m glad I’m getting there. But here’s a thought that I think bears mentioning:
I’ve spent much of my life (all of it probably) worrying about balance and I suddenly think that life really isn’t about balance after all. If I over-analyze I get stuck, if I under-analyze I’m not using my talents fully, but that means I’m constantly struggling to stay somewhere in the middle. Let’s face it, it’s a rare moment when we sit at the balance point.
What I think is a better focus is to think of myself as a bed of kelp because life is like the ocean. Sometimes the tide rolls in and other times out. What I need is to get comfortable with whichever way the water is flowing because, in the end, there’s nothing I can do to stop it moving. Somebody said this long before now, but “Go with the flow” sounds like a good mantra.
Or if you like, Lupe Fiasco said it even better: I got my Go Go Gadget Flow.
This is one trait I actively work on from one day to the next. I write. I photograph. I weave a little bit (which is a hobby I’d like to expand on in the next year). I do some paper cutting. And when I’m feeling fun-ish, I am likely to be involved in some sort of crafting something or another. The last and quite successful crafty project I did was tube sock snowmen. What a fun craft night that was!
But I have a problem with my creativity that I feel makes me a little less than artistic. I am always much too concerned with getting it “right.” Replace the “it” with whatever project I’m currently involved with, but the “right” part? Well, that’s the conundrum. Who’s to say what’s right or wrong when it’s a pure product of my imagination? I suppose that would be me, but I usually feel like there’s some external judge looking over my shoulder saying things like, “Hmmm… That line could be cleaner.” Or “The angle of that photo is not quite right. Should have moved to the right three inches and knelt down on one knee.”
If I’m writing, those criticisms range anywhere from choosiness for what word is right, to whether I really need this comma or that one. Then there’s the structure of the story, not to mention how the story will unfold, etc., etc., etc. It’s all a bit ridiculous. I am a little bit ridiculous, to be particular about the issue. Right?
I know I’m not unique in this struggle for creativity vs. perfection. It’s the cause of writer’s block, yes? It causes some of the most creative people to freeze and keep their amazing work trapped in a notebook tucked away in the bottom of their sweater drawer. It causes heartbreak, misgivings and probably more than a sleepless night or two.
I recently visited a Picasso exhibit which may have cured me (fingers crossed!!) of this unreasonable need for perfection I have. In it was displayed a series of 18 lithographs Picasso created of the same subject “Two Nudes.” Each was dated and named State 1 through State 18. Although each was unique in its way, some were very similar, but the progression was obvious and moved from authentic depictions of two nude women, unusual for my idea of Picasso’s work, but then moved by the last few pieces to his more typical (is typical even a valid description of Pablo Picasso?) stylized vision of the human body.
I spent more time in front of that series than I did the entire rest of the exhibit. Picasso, this master of Modern creativity, was so playful in his work. Gazing from one to the next to the next made me realize that he was not concerned about getting it right as he was about getting it out, then moving on to the next piece.
So what if my next word isn’t quite right? So what if I didn’t get that dialogue perfect? Sometimes the imperfections add the special quirks I love most.
As a result of seeing that series of works by Picasso, I have started a series of my own. I am sticking to 18, like he did, but mine are 18 written pieces based on a single subject. It’s a fun little experiment. And if nothing else, it’s a creative endeavor. I’m not letting those judgey voices pop up inside my head, or whisper in my left ear as they stand over my shoulder or wherever it is those damn judges usually stand. I’m just not allowing it. So there.