The Making of a Craftsman or Artisan

http://pixabay.com/en/paint-art-image-artists-painting-198735/

Credit: Pixabay Images – An Artist

Whoever said creativity was easy, a buzz from the subconscious, has not been through the dark night of the soul. I have. I wept with my protagonist wondering, why…why am I doing this to myself?  So lately I’ve been spent. Drained by the sheer grit of finishing the first draft of my novel and now with trepidation, I’m commencing the rewrite process.

Erwin McManus of  MOSAIC said, “the person who steals is terrified of creating.” Now you know the reason for our overcrowded county jails. Creativity is soul-breaking hard work, demanding diligence, responsibility and a thick-skin to withstand inevitable criticism. Yes, Criticism. My retainers are proof that I can look at my reflection (cute as I am *-*) and still find fault. Nobody wears halos, visors maybe. 

Wikipedia Commons -  A Craftsman at work

Wikipedia Commons – A Craftsman at work

The craftsman shows up and plugs away, like someone possessed by the need to show themselves worthy of another sunrise. I must admit these last few weeks has been hard for me. I’m like a brow-beaten Lebron James, after losing 2014 NBA finals to the Spurs, soaking his weary muscles in a bathtub of epsom salts and reprimanding his kids, “I don’t want to hear anything about basketball.”

Here’s what I did today to avoid writing:

  1. Washed my hair and deep conditioned it twice.
  2. Created a head full of twists ( that accounted for 55 mins.)
  3. Browsed used car websites – Craigslist, CarGuru, KBB, Recycler , then Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills for a good deal on a Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS 550 Coupe, steel-gray body and ash-black leather interior.
  4. Searched online for a white gown (Service of songs; dress code – white) and  in the process, I was sorely tempted to buy ten pounds of  Kansas City steak from QVC and from HSN, Twiggy London’ s flag-inspired tee-shirts.
  5. Served myself two large scoops of vanilla bean ice-cream.
  6. Teared up as I went through three trunks of my native African clothes, reminiscing about each occasion that called for another gele* (African headgear)
  7. Read and deleted spam comments (Yep… Akismet obviously needs help)

Then something good happened. I decided I’d better write or feel guilty when I step on my scale tomorrow on account my creamy indulgence. Motivation can come from anywhere, as far as it works. As artists when we stay away from our craft, we experience an unsettling, a foreboding that time is slipping away and with it the miracle of chances.

If we wait too long, it’s so easy to slip into a dissatisfied and depressed state. Off-track we get moody and our words become wind – destructive, unkind – blowing restless in all direction of our lives. Now I’m learning to pray – Lord, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, can you please create through me today?

 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Eph. 4:28 (NKJV)

Art is everywhere. This  video shows Segun Gele, a Nigerian *gele artist profiled on CNN, reveling in the work of his hands.
If you haven’t…you’ve got to read  The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Fight the resistance. Be encouraged. Create something that makes you smile today 🙂

About That Parable of Talents

Parable about talentAbout that Parable of Talents – People are Depending on Us!

I got a message from a family in desperate need and I was so sad that I couldn’t just write out a check for the exact amount to help them out. It got me thinking…how long have I been dancing around the bonfire instead of igniting my potential and letting the sparks fly? How long have I chosen job security and ended up with no ‘time’ to write? Did I say sad? I meant pathetic!

People are depending me, on us, generations are depending on what we do today. With our gifts and talents, we can change the fortunes of our families first, then cities and nations…and why not? I am preaching to myself and the choir because every “what ifs” can be replaced with “here’s what”. These are the two main excuses we give ourselves:

FEAR

cartoon-44575_150Fear is as natural as scratching an itch, it’s there to trigger a response either to flee from legitimate danger or to recognize an opportunity to stretch ourselves.
Fearful thoughts or a twisted mindset makes people abdicate the responsibility of developing their talents. Many ‘babies’ have been starved to death or buried alive. Like the lazy servant did in the Bible parable – he hid his one talent and incurred his master’s wrath.

His defense was:
“I was AFRAID so I went and buried the talent in the ground.”

FEAR. Enough said.

Or not… the master called him wicked. He called the lack of his growth, wicked as in – capable of harming someone or something or allowing an extremely unpleasant situation to exist.We are created for good works that inspire, evoke emotions, expose injustice,  or use our resources to feed an extra striving child etc. and our gift is the vehicle that takes us to unbelievable destinations.

Fear strolls in with its posse  or an extended family of uncles, aunts and cousins who insist on coming to the party, you might recognize them as procrastination, anxiety, worry, agitation, apprehension, timidity, cowardice and grandpa funk!

“You do not need to shrink difficulties and act as if they do not exist. Just don’t magnify them.” Dr. Eric R. Maisel, Ph.D.

Pursing goals and dreams can be scary and gut-wrenching hard work. Fear uses lies like – Nobody cares, Who do you think you are, You are wasting your time, and on and on…to defeat our purpose and keep us small.
Instead of bolting or perpetuating the lies, we can reign in our thinking, meditate, be still for a moment then keep moving – be the peace within the chaos. Like Steven Pressfield advises, recognize the resistance for what it is, but go ahead and  do it anyway.

DEVALUATION

We esteem the gifts and positions of other people and devalue ours thinking that they are mundane and not as special. I can’t win a singing contest to save my life, but I can write. But I’ll revere a voice like Celine Dion’s and not think much of my innate ability to structure, plot, and craft a story.
Just like Esau, when he despised his birthright trading it to Jacob for a bowl of stew when he came home famished. He said, “Look I am about to die (of hunger), what good is the birthright to me?” That’s how people reason: this —- (fill in your blanks) cannot possibly sustain me!

“…All who make wages will be troubled of soul” Isaiah 19:10 ; “…And he who earns wages, earns wages to put in a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:6

There is nothing wrong with wages, It has its place. It should be for seasons and transitions, not for life because it is never enough! I know God wants better for us than a dead-end job with fixed income, so we’ve got to define our “works” and not just work to pay bills and barely survive. And I think that’s why creative people with regular jobs have “hobbies”. Our hands and minds are wired to be creative and our imagination is always reaching for what we are too scared to say out loud.

My parable about talentI mentioned my love for writing to a senior manager in my former office and the response was, “Good for you, but how will that put food on the table?” What is it with food? The norm is full tummies but malnourished souls.
Until success comes, everybody else puts on blinders but we have to doggedly believe in ourselves.

The acorn doesn’t worry if there will be enough room for its humongous trunk and wide-spread branches, it just shoots up without a care, catching a breeze here and there. So should we…day by day,word by word, page by page.We have to believe that the talent was given for a purpose and that there are people waiting and depending on us to show up.

The War of Art – Fighting the Resistance

The War of Art - Fighting the Resistance

“To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be” Do YOUR Work

It’s amazing the hell you go through when you are trying to grow from one level to an even higher level mentally, spiritually, ethically or morally. The enemies of transformation are multifarious and ferocious! Doubt, fear, memories of past failures, heart palpitations, HDTV and the worst of all, procrastination.

Agents of resistance all designed to keep us ‘stuck’ and paralyzed by the pain of wondering. Wondering at the sheer possibility that we could dare to become what we see in our dreams and the quiet moments between the hustle and grind of making a living.

Inflicting pain that’s often worse than the searing strain and effort of actually doing the work required. What keeps us from doing what we long deep down in our guts to do? Who is that naysayer within? How can we avoid the roadblocks of any creative goal like starting up a business venture, writing a novel, starting a family, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist, thinker and creative visionary in Steven Pressfield in the The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face – RESISTANCE. His insightful book outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe. The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then shows us how to climb to the highest level of creative discipline.

I realized that this enemy is as common and prevalent as gravity. Resistance is the earth curse trying to maintain its balance. But our dreams are more powerful and Resistance can not survive the quiet resolution of our will in placing ourselves within the task, like an artist before an easel, a writer staring down the blank screen and breathing deeply before typing ‘Title’ or the business person refusing to let a partner’s decision to quit stop him.

“Resistance means, Putting your ass, where your heart wants to be. Just sit down and do the work!”- Steven PressField

The writing is tough love and coming from an author who struggled for decades before his success with his book, The Legend of Bagger Vance, you can take the punch and maybe a well-placed left hook that will inspire you to seize the potential of your life.

“Late at night, have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.” says Steve PressfieldThe War of Art

Resistance is just the bully in the school yard, dealing with its own pathetic future and secretly terrified that we may one day stand up to it. We fight against taunts and the onslaught of doubt and self defeat, we fight for our very souls, we fight the temptation to kick the can down the road to another generation.
Till we dare say, “I want that!” and take that sucker down!

Ama Danesi