Saturday, March 19, 2016

Freedom in discipline

I've had a series of excellent conversations with the wise and wonderful in my life about how our lives as creative people are supposed to function - in the pragmatic sense and also in the more whimsical sense that in order to live the life of a creative person, well, you've gotta be creating.

I was advised to:

Put myself in the places where the people I want to work with/for are.  It seems obvious but it isn't always possible, it's not like I can call most of them up and ask to meet for coffee and a chat.  I CAN take their classes and go see their shows.  I met a choreographer with whom I want to work a couple of weeks ago and boldly introduced myself, and she did offer to meet me for coffee.  So, put myself in the right places using the right methods, as opposed to what you'd do if it was someone with whom you have a personal relationship already.

To do it - it was something like 'half the battle is doing it'.  This was coming from someone who does and has been making their own work for a looong time so they know that at first it can be terrifying to put yourself out there but ultimately it begins with a less polished, more fragile entity that your friends support because they're good friends and feel obliged to and gradually turns into something else as your experience and professionalism grows.
I've never been great at putting myself out there and saying 'I made this you wanna see?' because...well why would they? What makes me think I have anything to offer that people might remotely be interested in?
But that's why you start with friends because you can guilt them into supporting your endeavours...also you just have to ignore the voice that says 'why is this worth seeing?' because that's thing that stops you from DOING...and if you're not doing well then you're not doing.
Again, so simple but so complicated when you turn it over too much in your mind.

Take pride in all the things I do, creatively or otherwise.
I'm actually ok at this one.

And I wasn't exactly told this one but I sort of drew it from all the other advice - ask people.  I don't really like to ask people creative favours because I've done plenty of things for no pay and all my friends have and do as well, and we want to be united in refusing to do that but we also want to be able to help out a friend...so it's a little precarious.  But I've lived for a year with a talented musician and a talented filmmaker so it's about time I got braver and said hey guys wanna make some stuff?

I did just that - I asked David if he'd help me make a dance reel to which he immediately said yes without missing a beat.  And I told Dan I wanted to make more music and he should get ready to make something soon.  I also asked a couple of dancer friends to help me make a reel/be in it with me.  And asked someone to teach me about screenplays.  I have an EP's worth of songs, a Donald Trump rap, several beginnings of choreographies and a screenplay draft.  With which I must do something.

And it's all written down now so I'm fully accountable.

The title of this blog post is about how, to get to the good stuff in artistic pursuits, you so often have to go through a lot of junk.  Which ties in to the 'just do it' philosophy.  This is a pretty well known idea: if you want to write, you need to sit down and write, every day, even if what you end up with at the end of some days is pages of junk.  Same with choreography, music, all of it.  I don't like to associate discipline with creativity because the word sounds stifling and restrictive but in fact (and I've known this always) it's the only way to make those neural pathways really strong and start the synapses firing on a higher level.
A metaphor I discussed with Dan was being prepared for an epic natural event.  If there's a huge lightning storm coming, better make sure your lightning rods are all in place.  The discipline part is climbing onto rooftops of buildings and securing lightning rods and making sure conductors are in the right place and insulated and safe.  The lightning storm is when a flash of inspiration hits you and you want to get it down on paper or into your body or recorded immediately.  If your lightning rods are not ready that lightning storm will blaze around you and for a while sure the skies will be illuminated but when it's over it will just be gone.  If the rods are there and prepared, you can capture and channel that lightning and gain some degree of control over the wild, impulsive thing.
(It's not a perfect metaphor because what am I, a lightning expert? No! But I think you get the point)

So taking classes, writing every day, recording every melody/joke/lyric/plot on my phone, scribbling random phrases in notebooks as I go about my day, listening to tons of music, watching quality work and repeating choreography I came up with on the subway until it's firmly locked in - these are lightning rods going into place.

And the same goes for the blog, of course - precious holder of my blithering.




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