I won’t lie – sometimes whipping up the enthusiasm to write a post for campari&sofa is tough. I want each post to sound like me, to be relevant, interesting and add value to the reader’s (and my) life. Reading back anything that strays from that makes my chin jut sideways – the sure tell of an internal cringe.
There’s been more than a few of those lately … I start posts only to delete, get in the flow only to end up in a dry dock. Last week I resorted to dredging through my mental files: the stuff I don’t tell people. Only to come up with slim pickings – dried fish heads and the remnants of weird, never-had-before dreams (caused I suspect, by the IQ-boosting supplements Claudia and I are testing at the moment – more of that another time).
But you don’t want to read about human hands being used as bowls for fingers stirfried in soya sauce (… do you??). Or a lion held by two masked men, dressed in camouflage. Let’s face it – other people’s dreams are tedious unless you’re making money from them. So, I resorted to trolling around the internet, looking for clues and inspiration. All the while feeling like a fake and a shyster – because I am not creating ‘from scratch’.
Then I read this: “You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see. You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”
I followed the thread and met American artist Austin Kleon. In his book “Steal Like an Artist”, Kleon makes clear the difference between good and bad theft … he presents us with a neat reference grid and even walks his credo as he talks it by making it possible for writers/bloggers to utilise his material by providing easy downloads. All of which got me interested in the concept of taking, transforming and creating.
Turns out Kleon isn’t the only artist to feel this way. Francis Ford Copola holds wholeheartedly with a little respectful stealing: “I once found a little exerpt from Balzac. He speaks about a young writer who stole some of his prose, he said, “I was so happy when this young person took from me.” Because that’s what we want. We want you to take from us. We want you, at first to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice. And that’s how you will begin. And then one day someone will steal from you. It makes me so happy becase it makes me immortal because I know that 200 years from now there will be people doing things that somehow I am part of.”
In honour of these two minds, and mindful of Austin’s reminder to study, not skim: I have downloaded Kleon’s book and will read it this week. Steven Johnson (author of “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation” believes: “Chance favours the connected mind” – so I have sent a copy to camparigirl for when she returns from NYC. It will be great to see what we make of it – indiviudualy and together. Watch this space.