Long time no post. Yes.
Most important lesson from this interval: in the words of the brilliant Neil Gaiman, “Make Good Art.”
He’s got a hilarious and wonderfully honest commencement talk about this, in which he includes the following scenarios:
“IRS on your trail? Make good art.”
“Cat exploded? Make good art.”
“Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art.”
To which I would add:
Somebody tells you that what you do doesn’t count, even though they’ve never seen your work? Make good art.
Somebody rolls their eyes when you try to explain what you do? Make good art.
Somebody gets resentful when you defend yourself? Make good art.
Earlier in the speech, Gaiman makes a crucial point:
“And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, whatever you do, you have one thing that’s unique. You have the ability to make art. And for me, and for so many of the people I have known, that’s been a lifesaver. The ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times, and it gets you through the other ones.”
(All quotations from Gaiman’s speech are taken from Make Good Art, designed by Chip Kidd [New York: Harper Collins, 2013].)
Once again, I think Gaiman’s absolutely right. The ability to make art, to make it in the company of some utterly extraordinary people, and to be reminded that such art matters, is what got me through the “other” times recently.
(I’ll post more about one of those projects soon: it’s in post-production right now.)
It’s one of the many reasons why I make sure to thank those artists (on Twitter and elsewhere) whose work I’ve seen and enjoyed: hard work and long hours went into that art, and I appreciate every minute of it. You (yes, you) are amazing. Thank you.
Gaiman’s point also kicked my ass today: I was talking with a friend and explaining what it’s like being a first-generation immigrant in a new city/state/country sometimes. “I’m a Resident Alien in more ways than one,” I said, and he chuckled in recognition.
“I’ve thought for a while about writing a play about that,” I continued. But then I stopped and corrected myself: “Enough thinking. I should just write that play,” I said.
So here I am, saying it to a wider audience: I’m writing that play. Starting now.