The Need for Fairy Tales

This thought has been banging around in my head for a while, but it seems like it was waiting for today to come out. The writing prompt over at the Desk.pm writing community today is to reflect on this quote:

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist,
but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – G.K. Chesterton

Myths are Important

You may not be the type of person who’s into “fairy tales” or “crazy make ’em ups” as comedian Howard Kremer refers to them, but they’re really important. Continue reading The Need for Fairy Tales

Treat Yo Head Right

For the past few months, I’ve been in a season of “push push push!” I’ve accomplished a lot and really set myself up for this to be my most productive year (in almost any way of measuring) in a long time. But with all the pushing I’ve also had some times where my body just flat out decided it was time to stop pushing, whether I agreed with that assessment or not.

Something I came across last week that I wish I would have found a few months ago is Headspace. I know that “meditation” is a word that conjures up a lot of weird associations for people, but when you say, “sitting still and silent for ten minutes in order to learn how to be present and not so distracted during the day” it all of a sudden sounds like a thing everyone wishes they could do.

If you’re having some stress or anxiety issues (basically I mean, “if you’re a human being”), give their app a try and let the technological marvel that is your smartphone teach you how to do something people have been doing for thousands of years.

Pub, Pubs, Publish

I built a picture sharing app as an exercise a little while ago, but it never turned out the way I wanted. I detailed my problems with this app earlier, but I solved all of the problems and still didn’t like a few things about it. So I scrapped it and started over.

It was amazing how quickly it went this time. I caught a snippet of code I missed before and was able to add new features. There really is so much wisdom in the “wax on, wax off” philosophy of just practicing, practicing, and practicing. It seems like all I’m doing is going back through codeschool, building stuff for practice of for my portfolio, sending out resumes, and interviewing (where’s the time to write???).

So, here’s what I built over the weekend: BrewPinting. Just a sample, but I think it’s going to be the car in my garage I tinker with for a few weeks, adding features and refining style. Seems like I’m getting a lot of front-end hits in my job search, so I’ll look at adding some JS magic as well.

Commit and Schmidt

The temperature in Louisiana has been alternating between the 80s and 30s, so nobody knows whether it’s time to layer up or throw on the shorts and hit the park. Today was nice and sunny, but as soon as the sun went down I started making GitHub commits and fiddling with refining projects. When your office is your laptop, it’s too tempting to have access to everything you’ve been obsessing about when you’re supposed to be enjoying a beautiful day and watching LSU basketball and baseball.

But fear not! It’s not all work, I have come from the internet mountaintop to tell you about the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I’m not really going to devote hundreds of words to the show, I’ll just say it takes decidedly dark subject and finds genuine comedy and hope, which is like catnip for me. It’s also co-created/written by Tina Fey, also my catnip.

What spurred me to write about it, though, was the show’s tagline: “Life Begins When the World Doesn’t End.” I think this is basically the theme of Turning Pro restated. When you’ve gone through it all, tried to find solace or happiness in all the things that you know won’t bring them, or been stuck in a situation not even of your own making. It’s time to start your life. (Actually, no matter what, go ahead and start living your life now).

Myths of the Muse and the Creative “Class”

Lifehacker.com has an interesting article today on Demystifying the Muse: Five Creativity Myths You Should Stop Believing. The TL;DR version (but you really should read it) of the five myths are:

  1. Creativity Is Something You’re Born With
  2. You Can’t Control When Inspiration Will Strike
  3. You Can’t Learn to Be Creative
  4. Creativity Happens in Isolation (the Myth of the Lone Creator)
  5. Creativity Comes to Those with the Time and Means

I want to keep up a theme I’m trying to advance on this blog, which is a deflating the word “creative” from the lofty heights of Picasso or Steve Jobs or pick whichever amazing artist/visionary you want. Try to remember that creative isn’t a title or separate class of person, it’s a quality you imbue your life with.

I don’t know if these myths are from people who want to keep potential creatives out of the club, or from people who gave up too soon and want a reason for why they never succeeded in their dreams. But I do know that most of us go through life doing a lot of things we don’t even think about, much less imbue with love and labor (to borrow form Steven Pressfield). Just a thought for today.

Consistency

Knee deep in application- and resume-sending, so just a short one for today. In thinking about a good example of consistency and creativity, one of the first people who came to mind was Scott Kurtz and his web-published comic strip, PVP. I’ve been reading PVP at least weekly for a dozen years and he’s been writing it in one form or another for almost 17 years.

Of course, when I went to the site today, they have a guest artist for the week, haha, but it’s a testimony to Kurtz that even when he takes a break, he makes sure content is still being produced. I’ve watched him as PVP developed from side-project/labor of love that he produced three times a week to producing content five times a week and moving his wife from Texas to Seattle to make PVP his full-time gig.

Scott is a real inspiration to all of us who want to dedicate our lives to something awesome. His strip is great, but honestly I can see that the key to his success is consistency. Webcomics have come and gone, new artists have hit it big (contextually big, but still big), and Scott just kept producing content. Over and over, year in and year out, he showed up and shared content.

There’s no secret to success. Show up. Do the work. Share the work. Repeat. Keep doing this, and you’ll be amazed at how many “lucky coincidences” start happening to you.

Check out PVP and if you’re a D&D nerd, check out Kurtz’s other comic, Table Titans. Enjoy!

Failure? Never Heard of It.

Today’s quote comes via the Desk.pm blogging community:

Failure? I never encountered it. All I ever met were temporary setbacks. ~ Dottie Walters

I think it takes some time to develop this attitude. Seems like you need a few decades under your belt to accumulate enough failures temporary setbacks to see they’re really not that big of a deal.

When you face that first big failure, it’s all-consuming. It’s a little like your first crush as a teenager, the weight of it is both crushing and all-consuming. But then, the next one come along, and you start to get a little perspective on the whole thing

“The next what?” you may ask. The next anything. Life isn’t just one thing, it’s a great variety of people and experiences and places. So if you’re in the middle of a “setback,” keep pushing on.

There’s a lot more life yet to be lived, and honestly there are some more setbacks on the way. But there’s a lot of great things on the way, too. And those let you see failure in its proper size and scope. It’s just another thing that happens, don’t let it (or any one event) define you. Life is more than just one thing, and so are you.

Take What the Defense Gives You

Day 9 of our digital book club for Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro and we’ve reached the end. I’ll write a big picture summary tomorrow since this book has really intersected my life in a season where I’m taking action to “turn pro” in many ways.

In talking about Resistance, those times when moving forward seems especially tough for all kinds of reasons, Pressfield uses a football analogy:

When you’re up against that kind of Resistance, there’s no shame in taking what the defense will give you. In football terms, we shut that part of the playbook that contains the deep “go” routes and the 55-yard bombs. We turn instead to that section that has the short slants and the three-yard dinks into the flat.

Take what you can get and stay patient.

The defense may crack late in the game.

I love football. I love the strategy, I love that each position on the team has certain rules they have to abide by. If I could explain how much strategy is involved and how much it’s like chess, maybe I could convince my nerdier friends how awesome it is.

So this analogy means a lot to me. I’ve watched games where the opposing team makes a huge play, like running a punt back for a touchdown. And I’ve seen teams fold under the pressure such a change in momentum brings.

But I’ve also seen teams that simply put their helmets on, jogged back on the field and set to work taking every yard the defense would give them. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes you chip away and wear a team down, and magic happens.

Sometimes it doesn’t work, the other team is just better that day.

But here’s what I know, if the defense (the Resistance) is particularly tough that day and you fold up under the pressure, you literally will not win. And quitting can become a habit much more easily than chipping away day after day.