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Monday, August 29, 2016

Henry Moore — Observation

How much is your art connected to nature? Do you spend time observing the shapes and patterns within nature? Do you study nature and learn from it?

When I spent seven years writing and studying haiku, I spent time connecting with the physical world around me — listening to nature. I would take walks and write haiku. Even those of us who live in cities are a part of nature. Here is a haiku that I wrote while walking around Chicago.

downtown Chicago
a squirrel buries apples —
warm autumn sun

As creative leaders, we must look for inspiration in nature whether we write novels, paint abstract paintings or compose music. Nature has much to teach us about ourselves and the world in which we live. Watch the rabbits playing in your backyard. Enjoy the beauty of a sunset. Take a walk and feel the snowflakes on your cheeks.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Carol Emshwiller — Change the World

Sometimes as creative leaders, we hope we can change the world — to make it a better place for everyone. Unfortunately, our vision of what we want the world to be and what it actually is rarely match. And even the most powerful people can not change the world to fit their vision. We can have an impact on the lives of some people and can alter the small corner of the universe where we eat and sleep. Maybe as Emshwiller suggests, we need to lower our sights. If I touch one heart, changed one life, I have made a powerful difference.

If I want to influence the world that I inhabit, I must first change myself. As creative leaders, we must work on becoming who we need to become before we can change those around us. It is very difficult to change someone else. Husbands and wives understand this. Those who learn to accept their spouses for who they are will be happily married. Those who spend all their time trying to change the behavior of those they love, often end up bitter and angry.

Change is something that we enjoy when we are the ones who initiate it. If someone else tries to change us, we put our foot down and refuse. As creative leaders, our art, writing and music can touch people's lives and inspire them when they are ready to hear and see. We all plant seeds and yet, we may never hear if the seeds grow and bear fruit. So we must hope that we have inspired a few.

What do you want or need to change in yourself?  What steps are you taking to change your behavior?  What are you doing to transform yourself into a better writer or artist? How will you be different tomorrow than you are today?  It is never to late to change your habits, your hopes and your dreams. Start today.

Monday, August 15, 2016

William Baziotes — The Process of Creation

Evolution is the way a poem happens for me. I don't know what the poem is about until I'm finished writing. The poem evolves as I write. I know there are writers who outline everything they do. They know what they are going to write every step of the way. For me, it does not work. I like not knowing. The excitement is in the writing. The same thing happens when I write a story or a novel. Only at the end do I know what I was writing about.  And even then I might not be sure.

When I travel I am the same way. I want to discover new places. My wife and I once were on a trip with another couple. They had everything planned down to the minute and became upset if we deviated from the plan because it put them behind schedule. I can't travel that way. The joy is in the discovery.

Art for me is also about discovery.  When I draw a mask, I never know what a mask will look like until I am finished.  The joy is in the process of creation. The joy is in not knowing where you are going. 

Zentangle 2016
I have been studying Zentangle, a meditative art form, for the last four years.  A basic principle of Zentangle art is that you don't plan your work.  The fun is in the exploration — of discovering where you should go.

One of the things I have learned over the years is that creative leaders have many different ways of working. What works for one person does not work for another. How do you work? Do you map out your story in advance of writing it? Do you know what your painting will look like before you start painting it? Are you confined by the expectations of yourself or others?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Harley King - Heroes and Stories

Are you the hero of your story? Or are you the victim? We all have faced challenges in our lives and we have struggled to overcome difficulties. We have people who seek to hurt us and cause us harm. Have you found the strength to share your story of triumph and victory over the pain? Or are you still dwelling in a past of unhappiness? Maybe it is time to retell your story with you as the hero. Maybe it is time to celebrate your healing.

Our stories are not new.  Others have tread the same path and faced the same challenges.  The difference is in the details. The difference is in our memories. Share your memories and the details that make your story unique. Share what is special about your story.

The fact that I have been fired five times in my career is a part of my story. Yet, I have risen from the ashes of failure to find new paths. I have used my failures as opportunities to grow and change. I have overcome the pain of loss. I have become the hero, not the victim.  I have been employed by the same company for the last 28 years.

The fact that I was diagnosed with prostate cancer is a part of my story.  Yet, today, ten years later, I am cancer-free.

The fact that editors have rejected my poems is a part of my story.  Yet, I did not let the rejection stop me from writing.  I chose to keep writing and have now written over 5,000 poems.  And I still write and rewrite my story.  I celebrate my story. 

What stories are you telling? Are you the hero?  Or the victim? Is it time to rewrite your story?

This entry marks the 950th post to this inspirational blog filled with positive quotes and comments. I have written every week for six years, beginning with my first entry on August 7, 2010.  The first two years I posted a daily entry. During the last four years I have posted weekly. I am writing and rewriting my story.
First blog post: August 7, 2010

Monday, August 1, 2016

Tom Robbins — Options

Many artists and writers dream of becoming successful.  They believe they will be happy when they have a best seller on their hands.  Be careful what you wish for.  When you are an unknown writer or artist, you are free to explore new genres or avenues of thinking without anyone criticizing you. When you are successful, you can become boxed in by the expectations of others and your options to explore new genres becomes limited. 

One of my favorite mystery writers, Walter Mosley, has tried on occasion to write novels outside of the genre of mysteries and these novels have never been as successful as his Easy Rawlins novels

 I once talked with Denver Pyle, a Hollywood character actor for most of his career. He said that his role as Uncle Jessie on the Dukes of Hazard negatively impacted his ability to be cast in any other roles. He was typecast as Uncle Jessie. 

Sometimes we as creative leaders become trapped by our own success and are unable to reinvent ourselves. Ricky Nelson speaks of this trap in his song, The Garden Party.