GOOD ENOUGH: More Lessons from “The Move”

Here’s my column for today at at Fine Art Views column, on being “good enough.”

Too, too often, waiting for doing it “the right way”, “the best way”, “the perfect way”, “the professional way”, results in just “not doing it at all.” Don’t let your desire for perfection hold you back. Do what you can. When you can do better, then do better. Yes, some things deserve your best. But you’d be surprised how many things simply need “pretty good” or even just “okay”. […]

And here’s the subject of the column, the 1930’s faux cheetah-skin sofa that resides in my art studio.

Can you spot the patches? (How about the dog?) (How about the second dog?)
Can you spot the patches? (How about the dog?) (How about the second dog?)

LOSING, AND FINDING GEORGE CROMARTY

Years and years ago, Jon and I discovered guitar musician/composer George Cromarty.

We bought his album, “Wind in the Heather”, I believe soon after we moved to Baltimore in 1983. I think we wore the grooves out on the record.

Many years later, I realized I hadn’t heard any of his music since we’d switched to cassettes, and then CDs and MP3 players. So I went looking for more modern formats of his music.

I found nothing.

In a panic, I realized that somehow this amazing musician had dropped out of sight.

All that was left to prove he’d ever existed was some references and my single copy of his album.

Turns out Mr. Cromarty didn’t record much music, and some of it may not have been preserved. What was recorded was only available on vinyl. He died in 1992.

But that’s changing. The internet being the fine Galactic Encyclopedia that it is, I’m now able to find his music on YouTube. It turns out many, many other people have been looking for him, too. And it looks like there are plans in the works to digitally record his music and make it accessible again.

Until then, may I introduce–or reintroduce, if you’re already familiar with this delightful album of beautiful solo acoustical, instrumental guitar music–to George Cromarty’s Wind in the Heather.

And to help support this effort, if you enjoy the album, please “like” the George Cromarty Facebook page supporters have set up for him. (Update: This page no longer exists, but I still hope his music gets digitalized someday!)

Beautiful music
Beautiful music

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?!

So yesterday I wrote an article for Fine Art Views, an online marketing blog for artists. (They also host websites for artists and do a fine job, too!)

Someone commented on how creative I was to think of the title, Sipping From the Fire Hose.

I used the phrase as a metaphor for the power of the internet. So useful for so much, an astonishing resource not even imaginable a decade ago. We use it for shopping, research, information, selling, marketing, self-promotion and connection. I call it the “Galactic Encyclopedia”.

But everything has its dark side. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and overly-involved in things that take your farther and farther away from your own creative efforts. And when you start comparing your efforts to those of others, it can make you feel pretty darn squished.

I can’t take credit for the actual phrase, “sipping from the fire hose”. It’s been around awhile. A quick Google search turned up this definition from the Urban Dictionary:

to be overwhelmed (with information, work, etc.);
to do something intensely;
to be inundated

(Oddly, it also turned up a blog called Sipping from the firehose.)

What made me think of it was, I’d heard that phrase twice in six months. I heard it from two different friends, who are also friends with each other, but who rarely see each other anymore (one of them moved pretty far away.)

Both of them were describing their respective jobs, which they both love.
But there’s simply too much to do. No matter how hard they work, or how much they try to chip away at their respective massive workloads, there’s always more coming down the pipe.

My friend Carol had just been in my studio a few days earlier. That’s when I heard the phrase for the second time.

Because of the coincidences, I couldn’t get it out of my head. All day I kept thinking, “Sipping from the fire hose….sipping from the fire hose….” I could even see Barb making a gesture like she was trying to drink from…well, a fire hose.

I had to write a column in a hurry. (My poor editor, Carrie Turner at Fine Art Views. No matter how many times she gives me a heads-up, I still forget when my column is due. In my defense, she says the late ones are often my best.)

(Okay, I think she’s just being kind.)

I was enmeshed in editing my series of ebooks. I could not think of an original thing to say.

All I could think about was that stupid phrase…sipping from the fire hose…

Then….water.

Then….the good and the bad about water. How everything needs it to live. And yet too much is awful, too.

I thought, “What in my professional life is wonderful and awful?”

I was sitting there, tearing myself away from my project. Which I was doing on the internet. Which was totally, mind-blowingly amazing. Unheard of ten years, even five years ago. My husband had just told me that the technology for on-demand printing was expanding so quickly, that information I’d read that was more than six months old might already be out-of-date.

I was thinking about the power of the internet….

And how lost and confused and discouraged I’d been the day before while researching how to create a book cover….on the internet.

Sipping from the fire hose….

Water…..

The internet….!!!

Once I had my metaphor, the words just poured forth. (Another water metaphor!)

For me, the use of metaphors helps me wrap my head around a concept. I don’t know how other artists/writers/creative people do it. But that’s usually the starting place for my writing.

There you have it. That’s where my ideas come from. They come from:

My friends. Complaining about work.

A funny phrase: Six months apart in time, 150 miles apart in space, and connected heart-to-heart in friendship.

And Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, with the amazing concept of the Galactic Encyclopedia.

And watching Kenny Roberts, the Yodelin’ Cowboy (on WNEM-TV Channel 5 in Michigan about 55 years ago. One day he sang Cool Water. (Although maybe I’ve squished this with the westerns we also used to watch nonstop around the same time.)

Don't know which we loved more, Kenny or the cartoons.
Don’t know which we loved more, Kenny or the cartoons. Boy, that cowboy sure could yodel!

SIPPING FROM THE FIRE HOSE

Here’s my latest column at Fine Art Views, called Sipping From the Fire Hose

It’s about using the internet to explore, inspire, market and learn without being overwhelmed by what’s out there.

Enjoy!

HERE’S MY BOOK! ON KINDLE! Getting People OUT of Your Booth!

I’m so excited, I actually dreamed about this last night!
My book! On Kindle!

It's here, it really is on Amazon Kindle!
It’s here, it really is on Amazon Kindle!

Here it is in the UK. I can list other countries if you need ’em, but my husband just looked it up by searching for my name.

(Of course, I also dreamed that a cooking show host came to my house to demonstrate cooking with chocolate. And in the dream, my cat mauled many of her 10 pound bars of chocolate. (Yes, you read that right.) And she couldn’t use them, even the ones that just had a few nibbles out of them. So she gave them all to ME!) (Yes, a truly wonderful dream, too.)

Who ate all the dream chocolate, CHAI???!!
Who ate all the dream chocolate, CHAI???!!

I haven’t figured out the print version process yet, but I will!

And now a very gentle request…
If you’ve enjoyed my blog and my columns, would you be willing to submit a review to Amazon? I would dearly appreciate it, and I won’t twist your arm or anything. I think you can do it here.

And of course, all my blog articles are still available to read free. But as my mentor pointed out, many of the earlier articles are on an old blog platform that’s not searchable. And the one here on WordPress? Well, I didn’t understand the difference between tags and categories. So my articles are still awkward to find….

Well, as I always tell you, now that I know better, I’ll do better.

And look for my second book, Good Booths Gone Bad, tomorrow!! (I hope….)

I THINK I JUST PUBLISHED MY BLOG ON KINDLE

I totally forgot I’d set this up. But apparently I have one subscriber to my blog for Kindle. So far, I’ve made $2.00. Whoever you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart! It’s the first income I’ve ever made from my blog. Kinda exciting.

If this interests you (although, of course, you can always read my blog for free), then you can purchase it here.

And if you have a few minutes, any reviews–good ones, that is–would be appreciated. Rave reviews would be even nicer.

If you hate my blog, then please don’t do this at all.

Thank you, and have a nice day!

I THINK I JUST PUBLISHED A BOOK….

I don't know how to make it bigger, sorry!
I don’t know how to make it bigger, sorry!

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

Mostly, I kept making it hard. Fortunately, I realized I was doing that, and stopped.

It’s an ebook, published on Amazon. A compilation of my blog series, “Getting People OUT of Your Booth: Create a craft show environment that helps your REAL customers shop!” It has ten chapters. 45 pages. No pictures. Although, in hindsight, the book could have been longer if I’d put a lot of pictures in it. Especially really BIG pictures….

It will be available…in 12 hours??

And it will cost $2.99.

I’m a mixture of quivering excitement/pride/happiness, and aching neck/back/butt.

But I did it.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Elaine Luther, artist, teacher, writer, for bugging the hell out of me until I did it.

THANK YOU, ALLIE BROSH!

One of my favorite blogs in the whole wide world is a totally idiosyncratic creation called Hyperbole-and-a-Half by Allie Brosh. (Idiosyncratic is a good thing, because Allie is totally, hysterically, wonderfully herself.)

Allie disappeared from view a couple years ago. When she returned, she wrote poignantly about her struggles with depression.

It is one of the funniest, saddest, most powerful, most truthful descriptions of depression I’ve ever read. And of course, since depression affects almost all of us, at one level or another, at one time or another in our lives, it really hit home.

I totally recognize that spiral deathtrap of wanting to be nice, and doing nice things, and suddenly realizing I’m not doing nice things because I’m nice, I’m doing them because I want to be a nice person, and I want other people to think I’m nice. Even though the thing I really want to do is scream at some difficult person and say, “You are a self-absorbed idiot and I hate you!”

That spiral comes from intensive self-awareness. Not a pretty sight.

Allie transformed the spiral into something incredibly readable. Entertaining. Engaging. Even educational. (I’ll just say it has a long list of things NOT to say to a depressed person, and the list involves fish.) A true creative act if I ever saw one.

I wanted to write to Allie, to thank you for her honesty, and insight, and….well, for being her.

If I were to leave a comment, I would say, “Allie, I am grateful you are in the world. I’m grateful the internet provides you with a forum, a platform to share your delightfully silly drawings and your searingly honest self-awareness. I’m grateful because, in sharing your inner self, you’ve made us all feel better about being human. You’ve made it safe for us to realize being human isn’t about BEING good. It’s about making choices, very tiny choices, to be BETTER. Even if our reasons for making those choices is based only on the desire to appear good.”

Because being human being, and being a half-way decent human being, is in that real desire. And how good we actually are is an accumulation of all in those very tiny choices.

Sometimes the choice is easy, such as the time I opened a grief writing workshop with a quick discussion of the group rules, and one person volunteered, “No hitting?” Yes, not hitting people is a good rule, and a good choice.

Sometimes the choice is hard, like not giving in to envy of other people’s successes. Or not giving in to resentment at someone else’s lack of gratitude when we do something nice for them. (Oh, yeah, we SAY we don’t need to be thanked, we were happy to do it. But…..!!!)

And sometimes the choice is REALLY hard, like when you realize you must confront someone on their behavior that is racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or classist (discrimination based on social position), knowing full well that person will not react well.

Allie has made a hugely important and brave decision to share her life stories. She’s made herself vulnerable, a condition we are only just now recognizing as a very important human trait.

Yes, they are also hysterically funny, such as the one about basic concepts dogs don’t understand. But others are profoundly personal and don’t necessarily showcase herself at her “best”, as in her story about destroying her grandfather’s birthday cake.

By sharing these stories, she has deliberately made herself vulnerable. And in doing so, incredibly loveable, and forgiveable.

In doing that, she makes it easier for us to be vulnerable. And easier for us to forgive ourselves.

In short, Allie Brosh is one of my life heroes.

As for leaving a comment like this, it’s kind of hopeless, because she has hundreds of thousands of other fans who adore her writing, and hundreds–no, thousands–of comments on her articles and her Facebook posts. Mine would be a tiny drop in the ocean of people who appreciate her.

So here’s a bigger drop of water for the ocean today, for Allie.

Allie Brosh….THANK YOU!!!

P.S. My daughter bought me Allie’s brand new book for Christmas. It is perfect, except that it’s missing one of my all-time favorite Hyperbole-and-a Half stories, Wolves. But I’m hoping that will be in Allie’s next book.

Is it a coincidence that my dear hubby suggested last night it was good time for me to get started on my book?? I think not.