Love the art in yourself

I’ve spent the last week with the words of playwrights, actors, poets, philosophers, and directors. An eclectic mix, to say the least. What I’ve gathered in my journey is a collection of thoughts on acting, theatre, and art.

Constantin Stanislavski said to love the art in yourself, not your self in the art. For me, I think he’s warning against getting too big for your breeches. And that can happen anywhere, in any occupation.

When you get to feeling like you’re the best thing since sliced bread, even if you happen to be the best thing since sliced bread, something is wrong. Humility goes a long way in keeping you working. In keeping you producing. It’s when you start to lost that humility that you think anything you do is above reproach.

As the Chinese proverb says, the higher up, the greater the fall.

Finding inspiration

Something I heard long ago was about a songwriter who would frequently hear tunes  while driving. Like, original tunes, only in the mind. And it was frustrating, because while driving it’s hard to write down music (this was before cell phones and inexpensive voice recorders, but you get the idea).

The moral was, train your inspiration to come when you’re ready for it. Not when it’s convenient for your muse.

Somewhere in Stephen King’s On Writing, or perhaps in one of the interviews he’s given about writing, he says that the way he writes is to start at the same time every morning, write the same number of hours, take the same breaks. His inspiration comes during that time.

Certainly he may get ideas while showering, or taking out the trash. Notebooks and recorders are handy in that way. But mostly he puts ideas to paper during that time when he’s set down to write.

Thankfully, we are never lacking in ideas. Good, bad, indifferent, we think things up every day. Many aren’t original. Some are. Of the original, many are terrible. Some aren’t.

As Seth Godin says, ““If you put enough bad ideas into the world, sooner or later your brain will wake up, and good ideas will come.”

I thought of this because as I was waking up two mornings ago, I heard a whole song. An original song. I got as much of it down as I could, as I was just waking up and fumbling with the recorder. I unfortunately haven’t trained my muse in the same way.

Art, democratized

The process and product of art is democratized, thanks in large part to the internet. While industrialized creative endeavors fought against the innovations, the movement has progressed regardless.

Now it’s easier than ever to find your audience, identify common needs, and create a tribe. The most important thing, then, is to start.

Common sense

This blog could almost be called Common Sense. I’m not really giving novel ideas. Some may be in a form uniquely “me”, but there’s not much here that couldn’t be said by someone else.

I’m reminded of Thomas Paine, and his Common Sense.

“In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense: and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.”

Sometimes it’s all about getting the idea out. It may not be about who’s receiving the idea as much as it is the idea bubbling up and out of you until you cannot possibly contain it.

There are days when ideas seem to have completely left the building. There are days when one singular idea is all that you can see – blocking out every other item in such a way that you must concentrate solely on it.

And then there are the common sense ideas – ones that mean much to you and, you hope, at least one other person.

The awards show

I caught a bit of the Emmys on Sunday night. It’s been DVRed, but finding time to watch it this week will be tough. Easier instead to read the rundowns posted yesterday, either from NYTimes or Vulture, or from Twitter feeds and other social postings.

Two years ago, roughly at this time – following the Emmys, I posted on awards shows. It’s funny to think that again the Emmys prompts a post. After rereading my post from two years ago, I’m happy to say I’ve made some forays back into the entertainment business. Small steps.

But the awards show is an interesting animal. We’re watching the congratulations of people who likely enter our home at some point during the year, when otherwise we’d be watching the shows which they are on. The ratings were a record-low on Sunday, which may have something to do with the abundance of that other that we could be watching. We also are much more involved during the year with celebrity gossip thanks to social media.

So is there a place in the cultural consciousness for award shows? Should they even be televised? I’m sure that the question will continue being thought about among television executives trying to decide how best to sell to advertisers.

Hustling for fun and profit

When I was first starting out as an actor, I had to hustle. And I did. I was once described as the busiest performer in Central Florida. I don’t know how true it was, but I was always on the go.

That changed following a family tragedy and subsequent illness that left me – for several years – somewhat debilitated. Now that my health has improved (not to where I was, but better than I had been doing after the diagnosis), I find myself much less inclined to hustle.

Self-promoting, especially now in the prevalent culture of social media, could easily eat up all of your time. I know actors who are devoting around a fifth of their time to keeping connected with their followers.

On the one hand, you have to keep a steady stream of communication to maintain engagement. On the other hand, it certainly will lead to burn out.

I don’t like the hustle anymore. In my twenties, maybe I didn’t mind it. I felt like it was going to get me somewhere. Now, instead, I come to the table with a strong work ethic, and motivation. Not as sexy as an Instagram stream, but it keeps me busy, working, and happy. And I think that’s what’s important, at least to me.

Creating content

Where does content come from? There is so much being published in the internet. One hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second. Blogs, podcasts, artwork – all flying around digitally.

How do you sort?

As a consumer, what are the important pieces?

As a creator, are you reaching your audience?

No matter how much you’re creating, or posting, or consuming, it all starts one at a time.