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Monday, February 24, 2014

Pat Barker

"When I'm writing the first draft, I'm writing in a very slovenly way: anything to get the outline of the story on paper."

Pat Barker
English Novelist
1943 -

Do you worry about that first draft?  Do you want every word to be perfect?  Creativity is messy.  It is like the tide, ebbing and flowing, washing the sand away and bringing it back again.  No creative writer is able to create a perfect first draft.  Yet, many of us berate ourselves because the first draft is full of grammatical and spelling errors.  First drafts should be sloppy and full of wrong roads taken and misadventures survived.  The first draft should be fun to create.  You are an explorer in a previously unknown world.  Let yourself go down dead end rabbit holes.  Your first draft should be filled with mistakes.

Pat Barker was born in England to a working class family during World War II.  Her mother was unmarried and the pregnancy resulted from a drunken night out on the town.  She and her mother lived with her grandparents until she was seven when her mother married.  She chose to remain with her grandparents instead of going with her mother and stepfather.  After high school, she studied international history at the London School of Economics.

Barker began writing fiction in her mid-twenties.  She never published the first three novels that she wrote.  Her first published novel, Union Street, appeared in 1982 when she was almost forty.  Blow Your House Down was published in 1984 and The Century's Daughter in 1986.  All three novels dealt with English working class women.

Pat Barker is best known for three novels about World War I:  Regeneration (1991), The Eye in the Door (1993) and The Ghost Road (1995).  The novels are a blend of history and fiction and include the British soldier-poets, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon as main characters.

Here is a video about  Regeneration.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Jim Rohn

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment."

American Author, Motivational Speaker
1930 - 2009

We all have dreams and goals but many of us never achieve them because we have not mastered the art of self-discipline.  I define self-discipline as sacrificing short-term pleasure for the achievement of long-term goals.  If you want to be a novelist but you never seem to find the time to write, you will never write your novel.  If you want to be a painter but spend your time partying with friends and not painting, you may never produce any great paintings.  The arts require a lot of self-discipline.  We need to be able to sacrifice the pleasure of the moment for the achievement of long-term success.

Creative leaders can become easily sidetracked by the next creative thought or the next creative idea.  We are attracted to the energy within new creative ideas.  It is a emotional high and can be addictive.    If we are not careful we will jump from one idea to the next and never finish what we have started.  Creative leaders must master the art of self-discipline if they are to be successful.

Are you struggling with your dreams or have you mastered the art of self-discipline?  Do you procrastinate and never finish what you start or do you bring your projects in on time?  Do you let the pleasure of the moment keep you from doing the work you were meant to do?  Do you let the joy of new ideas get in the way of completing your work?  Remember self-discipline is the key to your success. 

Emanuel James Rohn was born in Yakima, Washington to Emanuel and Clara Rohn.  He was raised on a farm in Caldwell, Idaho.  At the age of 25 he became a distributor for AbundaVita.  Two years later he quit and signed up to distribute Nutri-Bio where he was mentored by John Earl Shoaff.  He built one of the largest multi-level organizations in the company and was made a Vice-President of the company because of his performance.

In the 1960's he left Nutri-Bio and became a speaker and seminar leader.  In the 1970s Rohn conducted seminars for Standard Oil.  He spent more than 40 years presenting seminars.  He has mentored and influenced Tony Robbins, Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield, and Brian Tracy.  Rohn received the 1985 National Speakers Associaton CPAE Award of Excellence.  He shared his message with over 6,000 audiences and over 5 million people worldwide.

Here is Jim Rohn: 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad.PNG"I don't like work — no man does — but I like what is in work: the chance to find yourself."

Polish Novelist
1857 - 1924

Unlike Conrad, I do like to work.  I find that if I don't work I become bored and more tired than when I work.  Although, I do from time to time find myself procrastinating, particularly with creative work.  The creative side of me doesn't want to sit down and do the work.  But I strongly agree with the second half of the quote.  Work does give me a chance to explore who I am as an artist and writer.  Work helps me to understand myself better and to appreciate my talents and gifts.  Work also challenges me and pushes me to go farther than I thought possible.

I believe we ought to celebrate work.  All work is honorable if approached with the right attitude.  Housework and housekeeping is very important work.  So is child-rearing.  Raising and educating the next generation is probably the most important work of all.  I am in awe of people who are knowledgeable about the work they do.  When I meet a sales clerk in a store who knows his product, I compliment him.  I love to listen to the sales pitch of great sales people.  Sometimes I buy and sometimes I don't, but I enjoy the ride.  I celebrate people who work their hands — carpenters, farmers, mechanics.  I am not good with my hands because I am too slow.  Some people have the gift for gab.  I have heard some fantastic speakers in my life.  Work for me is both an art and a skill.

Do you love the work you do?  Do you have fun working?  Are you proud of what you do?  Are you happy working?  Or are you always dreaming about some future job.  Be where you are now.  The future will come when it is ready.

The work that creative leaders do should also be celebrated.  Sometimes people don't understand the creative process and so they don't appreciate the working habits of artists and writers.  Painting, sculpting and writing are not 9 to 5 jobs.  You may work for an hour here and an hour there, but your mind is always working both consciously and unconsciously.  In fact, the unconscious work for a creative leader is probably the most important work and the most difficult.  So celebrate and appreciate the work you do.

Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski was born to Apollo Korzeniowski and Eva Bobrowska.  His father was a writer, translator and political activist.  He was born in a part of modern Ukraine which was a part of the Kingdom of Poland.  His family moved often because of his father's political activism.  His father was imprisoned in the Warsaw Citadel.  His mother died when he was seven and his father when he was eleven.  He was placed in the care of his mother's brother.  Jozef showed little interest in school and excelled only in geography.  At thirteen, he wanted to be a sailor.  He joined the French Merchant Marines at seventeen and spent 19 years as a sailor in both the French and British Merchant Marines.

Konrad gave up the sea at the age of 36 because of poor health and a fascination with writing.  His first novel was published in 1895 under the name of Joseph Conrad.  He wrote in English, his adopted language.  He spoke Polish and French fluently from childhood.  He only learned English in his twenties.  He called English "the speech of my secret choice, of my future, of long friendships, of the deepest affections ... of my very dreams."  He wrote twenty novels.

Here is a short biography of Joseph Conrad.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Diego Rivera

"Only the work of art itself can raise the standard of taste."

Mexican Artist/Muralist
1886 - 1957

People talk of taste as if it was real. It is an illusion of judgement. Every work of art, every poem, and every story has value. When people begin to label art as good or bad, they are creating false categories that are based on artificial judgements. What the majority label as good today may be considered bad tomorrow. You may like something or not like something which in itself is okay. Liking or disliking reveals something about you. There is nothing inherently bad or good within the work of art itself. The sense of good or bad is in the eyes of the beholder. Any judgement made about a work of art is actually a judgement of the person who made the statement.

While there may only be one person today who likes your art, it does not make the art bad. Two hundred years from now the majority of people may consider it a masterpiece. Taste is fickle and useless.

The Flower Carrier

Diego Rivera, the great Mexican Muralist, painted a number of murals in the United States during the 1930's. Edsel Ford hired him to paint a mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts which is still on view today. John Rockefeller commissioned him to paint a mural in New York. Since Rivera was a communist, he included a portrait of Lenin in the mural. When Rockefeller demanded that he remove the portrait from the mural, Rivera refused. Rockefeller had the mural destroyed. In the 1930's, a portrait of Lenin was unacceptable to the American public taste. A work of art was destroyed because the subject matter was unacceptable. Three hundred years from now, most people probably will never had heard of Lenin and nobody will be offended. Remember public taste is fickle and arbitrary.