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The “Make Good Art” Speech by Gaiman

I’d reserved this for an upcoming post called 50 Reads for Writers.

 

But I don’t want it to get lost in the noise.

So even though I’ll share the video once more in a future post, I’m posting it here separately. If you haven’t seen Gaiman’s speech, you should probably take a twenty-minute break and watch it now:

 

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New Stories, Poems, and Menu (Downloads to Follow)

Hey gang,

Added a few stories and poems. I also nested the fantasy stories from my Gergia world under the stories tab.

Soon to come : downloadable versions (.pdf; .mobi; .epub) of stories and poems. But first I have to transfer everything to WordPress.org – that’ll take awhile, but hopefully by winter you can download singles for free.

More to come…

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For the Fear of Christian Art

:: long story short ::

I have yet to meet somebody who, deep down, wanted to become something other than a good person. Or at least a good citizen. Though I’m directing this post at the Christians in the room, I think anyone will find it valuable if they swap out “Christian” for “good citizen” or “good human being,” because that’s a huge part of what I mean when I say “Christian.”

For some time Christian artists in America have been strung up between two poles: fraud and infidelity. We must cut out both the con-man and the wanderer to create true, lasting art… as Christians. And for the person who fears Christian art as an atheist or Sikh – it’s time to recognize the neoplatonic base of Christianity, those forms like truth and beauty and integrity that undergird Christian thought. At very least, we can all agree on some basic truths such as what makes a good citizen.

These two thoughts – that good citizens make the best artists and that Christians struggle with fraud and infidelity – work like counterpoints, like discord and resolve, like a guide for Christians who want to make art and a haven for anyone terrified of this alleged “genre.”

Now, if you want to skip to the comments and start mulling this over, go ahead.

But I believe in long form blogging as well, so  here’s the…

:: short story long ::

Two poles: fraud and infidelity. As I started out saying, all of us artists struggle with fraud – what some call “selling out.” And all of us struggle with periods infidelity or dishonesty – what writers call “block.”

Continue reading

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Comics that Nourish

People keep tucking away all kinds of imagination-based encouragement into the nooks of the internet, you simply have to dig a bit to find it all. Thanks to Meghan for pointing this one out.

Stephen McCrane over at Doodle Alley started drawing “cartoons that nourish” for people like you and me. He took the principles that helped him develop his craft and put them online in little chapters.

I’ll share two and you know I love the first one:

Learning to Learn

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Diversify Your Study

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Go check out Stephen’s great work –  tell him Lancelot sent you.


 

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The Art of Fiction :: A Mega List ::

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Nothing in the last two years has taught me more about storytelling, fiction, and great reading habits than the Art of Fiction series by The Paris Review. I read around two dozen of them before I decided to work systematically from number one until the end.

Huzzah for lists.

Unfortunately, The Paris Review currently classifies their interviews only by name of interviewee and date of interview. They don’t do them by category with separate tags for “The Art of Fictionand “The Art of Poetry” and so on (or if they do, it’s pretty hard to find).

I love lists, so once I grew tired of Googling every single Art of Fiction interview in numerical order, I decided to knock out 223 Google searches in one sitting and make a list of links for myself.

Why not share the fruits of my labor with you fine folk?

 

Hit CTRL+F to find your favorite literary author, go through it systematically, or take my recommendation to read numbers 3, 8, 12, 13, 21, 39, 64, 69, 84, 169, 189, 203, & 207 – whatever you do, read at least one of these.

If you’ve stumbled upon this post and happen to be on staff at The Paris Review, I want to say “thanks” for the new mobile functionality of your articles – it makes reading much more enjoyable than the old pinch-to-zoom stuff.

:: The List ::

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New Stories and Poems

Hey all you vagabonds and wild people, quick note:

I’ve updated the bibliography with some recent sales, added some new poems and a fairly old Gergian fantasy story about pirates. Hopefully I’ll have some of my new literary fiction to put up here soon.

See some of you tonight at drDoctor.

Carry on.


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The Secret to Breakthrough is the Community You Left

At the last songwriter’s guild meeting, Ben brought up the idea of block – not just writer’s block but getting seriously, cripplingly stuck in any craft. And he showed this TED talk of Sting:

 

I don’t want to add much more to this because I want to hear from you in the comments V , but I would mention that McKee talks about writer’s block in Story and shows us an escape route:

You’re blocked because you have nothing to say. Your talent didn’t abandon you. If you had something to say, you couldn’t stop yourself from writing. You can’t kill your talent, but you can starve it into a coma through ignorance. For no matter how talented, the ignorant cannot write. Talent must be stimulated by facts and ideas… The key to winning this war is research of memory, imagination, and fact…

[For memory], lean back back from your desk and ask, “What do I know from personal experience that touches on my characters’ lives?”

[For imagination], lean back and ask, “What would it be like to live my character’s life hour by hour, day by day?”

[For fact, hit the library].

It’s interesting that Sting got blocked, but then tapped into this deep well of knowledge that had been waiting for him. Sting went into music to run from the shipyard but communities raise up artists. It was only natural for him to eventually give back to the community he once escaped.

Your community cannot be you, but the manual arts always precede the fine arts – someone had to build the Sistine Chapel before Michelangelo could paint it. Yes, the artist’s nature seeks liberation from limitations. However,  limitations work like prophecies for the future inspiration of the artists they restrict:

  • racial injustice from the eyes of a child and Harper Lee
  • gospel and Rembrandt
  • a bad breakup and Adele
  • mad men along the open road and Jack Kerouac

When an artist gets blocked, he can find breakthrough by returning to those creative limitations as sources of inspiration. He can do this regardless of whether the communities he left sent him out or kicked him out or even ignored him until hefinally fled like a refugee. The secret to breakthrough is the community you left, but still remember. The community you’ve suppressed, but still imagine. The community you’ve ignored, but once studied.

Are you running from the place you just left?

 

Maybe, if you’re lucky, your previous community was healthy enough to send you to your current place and position. Or maybe you’re unlucky and you wanted to get out of Dodge. Or Springfield. Or Salem. Whether healthy or broken, the longer you run from the things you know, the more you create in cold blood.

Trust me: it’s much easier to create in a white-hot fury of passion.

For me, that means I’ll someday need to write about abandoning the craft of carpentry, of growing up under three different nurses (mom and her sisters), of living in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America the summer after I lived in the poorest, of limping through the aftermath of the Joplin tornado, of learning Arabic and Spanish in cross-cultural contexts, and of the awkardly enlightening experience of attending bible college and church camp (among other things).

What about you? What experiences are you suppressing? What memories have you ignored?

What “knowings” are you running from?

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a brooklyn, new york author

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