Last few days this thought has been swirling around in my head: how and what kind of stuff I produce… When I’ve made any kind of music or graphical – the first thing that almost always seems to happen – someone (or I myself) starts comparing it to what other stuff has already been made.
Which is normal and fine on it’s own – I guess – some things really are similar to stuff that’s already there – and some stuff we create is deliberate imitation of it – with some adjustments – improvements if you will – or just adding in your own perspective, experience…
I’ve gotten upset a few times in life (and that’s more than I’d like to), when some person came over and started telling me how I should be doing what I do – to “improve” – well fuck you? Why is this person telling me of some stupid made up standards on how music is supposed to sound like or what a picture is supposed to look like? It’s not like they ordered a work from me and now get to pick the colours… When it comes to my solo work – if you don’t like it, nobody is forcing you to take it in, I never said I proposed it to cure cancer – some things I just do for it’s own sake.
Yes many times when I forget myself browsing – some behance site or pinterest, looking for some ideas – I get a little discouraged by all the bedazzling work I see on it. Professional illustrators painting humans, fantastical animals, landscapes – their techniques often incredibly precise, many have their own recognisable styles – I see those and it makes me feel I can never get on that level (even though I must say I’ve never been particularly interested in illustrating, painting and concept art on a high level enough to put some 40+ hours of work and practice into it each week – I think that’s what these people do – it’s a necessity).
Similar thing seems to happen when I listen to some new interesting music – the sounds they use, the beats, the loudness – I start thinking maybe I could or should do that, maybe that’s better… Even though learning new tricks from here and there to incorporate it to my own work is often great – something new emerges – at those times I seem to forget my natural way of making music is something only I can do – and no one can imitate – even though it will never be played a 100 times on the most popular radio stations – it’s my stuff, only I can do it, and I better keep it that way.
I can’t think why others would listen to it, I just know that I do – it brings me to places in my head which help me get started to write. Maybe it will never be of any use and enjoyment to other people – but it is a sort of a magical tool for me – and if I were to sell myself out and make all those tunes in some other way – like heard on radio – I doubt these tracks could bring me to where I need to be – my own place.
Jaffer, the admirable entrepreneur had recently realised there are many crucial elements to what he does that simply can’t be taught to others. I happen to have thought the same every time I see GuruAnaerobic bashing employment – he may not have yet realised (or maybe he has, he just targets those other people with his so-to-say inspirational messages) – this kind of lifestyle isn’t desirable, achievable or optimal for everybody. Life is complicated – there are so many dynamics at play – so many small things which sort-of do have power over people – power over what they can or cannot do with their lives, their hands, their heads, their time. There’s a sort of a path-dependence at play here, too – to bring a very dramatic example to illustrate where I’m getting at – when you find out at 30 you would have made a terrific ballerina – well, let’s say that ship has sailed.
That’s not to say that you made the wrong decisions when you were 4 (which, as I heard, is the best time to start practising if you are to become a ballerina) – to most these kinds of options simply aren’t even available. Theoretically you might think that there’s NOTHING that can stop a 4 year old child from entering a ballerina school – money isn’t a problem, someone will sponsor, no problem, blah-blah-blah – let’s say, there’s only so many options a person (a parent, in this case – because 4 year olds don’t make decisions like that anyway) can take into considerations.
Even though there is a vast world full of strange opportunities out there – there’s NOTHING we can do to see and consider them all, at all times.
Life runs on a path – sure, there are forks and crossroads – but it’s not open space, and you the agent are not an ergodic demon, capable of jumping from one random point to another.
But let’s say because we’re these non-ergodic agents – we are slightly different to each other – and that is extremely apparent when it comes to all things concerning problem-solving, creativity, creation, art, spotting opportunities…
I mean to say we can’t teach and impose our path to someone else – but that doesn’t mean our stories are worthless to others – what another person has encountered on their path might at some point become very useful in my path, too. The idea of a mentor, as someone on twitter pointed it out, (sadly I can’t remember who exactly and I think my forgetfulness on that end is embarrassingly rude) – isn’t to show you the way – but to see that you don’t make fatal mistakes while trying to figure out and feel the way by yourself.
Stories, anecdotes – they are brilliant for that.
So, my current biggest personal project is writing the big story. Like my music, rooted in my early days spent playing Final Fantasy – the story is, too. I might already have everything in me to tell it just the way it needs to be. But I had been thinking I want to read a couple of other novels before I get to writing the prose of it – once again somehow fooled myself into thinking there’s a right way to write this and a wrong way – and everyone who came before me must have known the right way, because people are reading it.
I know the text has to be comprehensible – so you don’t scare off the one reader who at least tries (or two – husband and Seals, I’m looking at you). But in what style, what form, what pace – what I focus on, what I leave out – aside from the few cool tricks I could learn from other writers – I think what I need to do, is like with the music – forget about trying to fit it into radio-playable format – just do you.
This is the only way we can create things that can’t be copied – forget about the elements that can be imitated, the tricks that keep on getting re-used – the basic things that seem to grab and surprise and somehow work over and over again – but if it’s just the tricks and imitable elements – it’ll be just an empty thing – your sweat will be in it – but not your blood.