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The Adventures of Mark Anthony – Part ???

“In a Pickle”

***

“What’s wrong, Mark?” asked Anthony.

Mark sighed. “I’m in a pickle.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Anthony.

“Yes,” said Mark, “The company spliced my DNA with a Kosher Dill.”

“Oh so that’s what’s wrong with you.”

“A pickle is a small cucumber preserved in vinegar, brine, or a similar solution.”

“I know what a pickle is.”

Mark looked him deeply in the eyes. “Can you still love me, Anthony, warts and all?”

Anthony thought about it.

“Yeah, maybe.”

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The Gate Keepers (and you)

For many aspiring artists, it can feel overwhelming how many GATEKEEPERS exist: publishers, producers, gallery owners…seemingly keeping you and your dream as distant cousins rather than close friends.

BUT–especially with the handy invention of the internet–it’s easier today than ever before to get your work out there. Yes, this also means there’s a TON of people out there doing the same, but at least you don’t need a $100,000 grant before posting on Instagram.

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And here’s the important bit: you can’t get onto that elusive gallery wall or that magazine page if you don’t–

a) make art, and a lot of it, including “bad” art

b) put your work out there, again and again.             …and again.

So here’s my excellent advice: Don’t wait for someone else’s permission to MAKE your art, and don’t wait for someone else’s permission to SHOW your art.

You may not have a million dollars or a book deal or a fancy financial backer, but that does NOT mean you have to wait until you do. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in limbo.

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I recently decided to shoot a scene from my latest script. I got myself a (relatively) cheap camera and I’m just going to go for it. For now, I’ll record the audio on my phone, using a selfie stick my roommate left behind as a makeshift boom pole.

I’m not planning to make Casablanca. I don’t even plan to show ANYONE. All I want to do is mess around, practice shooting/audio/editing, and get a fresh perspective on my script. …Maybe even have a bit of fun, who knows?

In order to make the most out of the time I have with the actors, I’ve carefully planned out establishing shots vs. close ups, angles vs. straight on, etc. And here’s when it hit me: visualizing the scene, especially one moment when the shot cuts from medium to close up on an actor’s face, my chest and hands got all tingly.

It wasn’t even a serious moment in the script. It was a silly moment. But that’s when it really hit me: good gracious I love doing this. 

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I love writing. I love costume design and casting. I love editing. I love cinematography. I love planning how to make a moment special onscreen. I love working with actors to get the best out of them, and under the right circumstances I even enjoy acting.

Not everyone makes it big in their dream career. But I figure that if you can make a living—or even make time on the weekends—to work on something that makes your fingers tingle when you think about it, you’re doing something right.

This is not to say you shouldn’t still do pitches or submissions or cold calling, only that WHILE you’re illegally climbing over gates and knocking on those doors, keep making art, posting art, feeding your creative soul… And don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can’t “get going” until someone else gives you the green light.

Just remember: the less money you have the more creative you have to be!

***

Feeling stuck in your creative process? Did your second grade teacher tell you you couldn’t draw? Do you believe art is only for people with “natural talent”? Do you want to stretch yourself creatively?

I offer Creativity Coaching, which is personalized, one-on-one coaching tailored to whatever you are personally struggling with around your creativity. Whether you’re just starting out or are a professional artist, we all get into creative ruts.

Contact me to inquire about Creativity Coaching or set up your first session.

What Makes You All Tingly?

or: How to Determine your Dream Career

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Once upon a time I was working on my laptop in a doughnut shop, planning a short video for a client. It was simple: a five-minute walk-through of her studio so her viewers could get to know her and her style of art.

As I was innocently sitting on an uncomfortable stool, imagining what the video could look like…I started getting this tingling sensation in my chest and hands. I drifted off into glorious fantasies of cutting between shots of colored pencils and water colors. I imagined when I would cut to a close-up and what music I could play over the video intro. I smiled as I cycled through potential fonts in my mind’s eye.

These could be most mundane things, to the wrong person. But to me, it was delightful and exciting as I thought about playing short samples of some of her favorite songs to listen to while she paints.

This past year, I’ve looked at quite a few blogs on creativity, and read more quotes than I thought humanly possible about success and failure.

My main take-away is this: those who achieve success—for the most part—worked unbelievably hard and failed quite a bit. But they kept at it, and that’s what made the difference.

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How do you become an amazing painter, sculptor, or accountant? You practice. A lot.

How do you succeed in a competitive field when the odds are stacked against you? You try. A lot. And when that doesn’t pan out, try some more.

And finally: What is the best remedy for dealing with all the bullshit and painful rejection?

Doing it for something that makes you tingly.

***

Feeling stuck in your creative process? Did your second grade teacher tell you you couldn’t draw? Do you believe art is only for people with “natural talent”? Do you want to stretch yourself creatively?

I offer Creativity Coaching, which is personalized, one-on-one coaching tailored to you and your creative process. Whether you’re just starting out or are a professional artist, we all get into creative ruts.

Contact me to inquire about Creativity Coaching or set up your first session.

What are you AIMING for?

In a realistic portrait art class, this wouldn’t fly:

Realistic Portrait

Grade: F+

In a draw-something-in-three-seconds-which-looks-semi-human-but-also-kind-of-like-a-duck class, I’d do fairy well.

Grade: B – –

But I love that little guy. I feel an emotional attachment to him. Does he have arms? No. Does that matter? Hell no.

Keep on rockin’

My Brain is Trying to Kill Me

So I had this great idea for a comic the other day…

I realized that everything in my life was fine. That underneath all my depression & anxiety was a curious, passionate person who actually was quite a fan of life.

In fact, I thought as I walked in the rain without an umbrella, the only problem is my brain. My brain is trying to kill me.

The preferred pastime of my brain seems to be working tirelessly to convince me that everything is terrible, especially me. I don’t really appreciate it, but it’s also the truth of my current situation.

…So then I thought it would be fun to draw a little comic of my brain pointing a gun (or maybe a bazooka) at me. It was a cute idea, until i realized that I don’t know how to draw a brain OR a bazooka.

It sucks when your (lack of) skills interfere with your questionably brilliant ideas.

I mused about what to do for a while, then sat down and drew the comic anyway. And since I already told you what it is, you’re not allowed to say, “What’s that weird blobby thing?”

It’s a brain. It’s supposed to be a brain. With a bazooka.

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Meditation, in the form of Comics

…and badly-drawn comics, at that.

I bring this up because I just started an Instagram account for my weird drawings and unwelcome thoughts, but with hashtags like #depression and #mentalhealth I started seeing a lot of people who post inspirational sayings and little daily encouragements.

I’ve never been that much of an optimistic person, so although I enjoy reading these posts, I doubt you’ll see me post something like that anytime soon. What’s more, although I wouldn’t be surprised if inspirational sayings were healthy and helpful to a lot of people, there’s something about them that doesn’t quite work for me.

I don’t feel better. And the more vague or generic they are, the worse it is. I like my fantasy with a little reality, and for me, the journey towards mental health does not always involve daisies and sunshine.

If it helps you, great.

***

At first I wasn’t sure about making my comics so depressing. I thought maybe they would encourage me to wallow and feel sorry for myself….even spiral into depression.

But the opposite occurred.

I constantly have the thoughts which turn into my comics whether I want to or not, but WRITING THEM DOWN allows me to see those thoughts in a form which is not inside my own head.

I got to laugh at them. I got to see my thoughts as separate from ME.

As someone who has MANY TIMES started and stopped meditation, I have a complicated relationship with it. It literally took me years to realize that meditation wasn’t STOPPING THINKING (my Westernized belief), but OBSERVING THINKING in a neutral way.

Whenever I meditate, I often get swept up in random thoughts, and then the negative self-talk joins in, kindly informing me: You’re meditating WRONG. Do it BETTER. Do it perfectly the FIRST TIME.

To come full circle, I realized that my comics were a physical representation of my meditation process. There were my negative, neurotic, unhelpful thoughts…right there on the paper. And I was observing them. Just observing. And gaining some very interesting and much-needed perspective.

Who knew my little scribbles could be so enlightening?

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The Unwritten Rules: Special Holiday Edition

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Merry Happy Holidays!

[I personally celebrate Christmas, because I firmly believe in me getting presents.]

Welcome to this very special Holiday Edition of The Unwritten Rules. Poor yourself a glass of boozy eggnog and relax by the fire!

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You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Well, tough. There are CEOs who need YOU to help them get extra-nice yachts and islands for their unspoiled children by buying many things from their large corporations!

There are menorah to be lit! Stockings to be hung! Naughty children to be yelled at! Relatives to visit! Halls to be decked! Decks to be slipped on because they were icy but it’s that dark kind of ice and you didn’t notice!

So to help you cope with the stress, I’ve made up a list of handy-dandy rules to help you avoid any embarrassing faux pas:

  • Do not bring up anyone’s drinking problem, unless of course you yourself have now “had a few,” and suddenly think it’d be a good idea to just “clear the air”

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  • Cat’s tails are not to be stepped on, EVEN IF you’ve already had a few special holiday drinks. Sometimes cats will be tripped over, but that’s to be expected.

 

  • Anyone will tell you that when relatives visit, it’s best to avoid topics of religion, politics, or anything which one can have an opinion on. Is this true? Yes, it’s true. …But social norms can be adapted. Why not set up a cute little boxing ring as the centerpiece for your living area? It’s a conversation topic, it really “pulls the room together,” and it can allow dueling relatives to release their aggression in a healthy way while SIMULTANEOUSLY providing entertainment and staying out of the way. [note: If you think that this is “not classy,” just remember that anything, no matter how distasteful from a distance, can become nostalgic and accepted simply by labeling it a “Tradition.”]

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  • It is unacceptable to give someone a present “wrapped” in the crumpled paper bag in came in. HOWEVER, a simple bow or a sharp piece of holly can add the right touch.

 

  • Parents: No, you may NOT buy a Christmas tree on January 2nd. No matter how great the tree is. If you buy a tree before December 5th, it is allowed to be small and/or ratty, because your children get to enjoy it for an extended period of time. [A handy holiday tip: if your tree doesn’t have a strong scent, try putting a piece of cod or salmon amidst the branches. The smell will permeate the entire house before long! If you want a more traditional “pine” scent, maybe you should have bought a better tree.]

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  • Be careful of re-gifting! I keep a thorough chart of who has given me what lousy gift throughout the years. I’m thinking of becoming a millionaire with my patented iphone “Gift (Cr)App” which tracks and sorts this for you.

 

  • Do not give someone a present simply because YOU want it, unless you’re very sneaky about it. For example, if your sister needs a new pair of shoes, get her one. Then claim you didn’t know she was a size 7, and you thought she’d said she wanted men’s dress shoes. Then offer to take them back.

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  • It is not classy to ask your relatives to pay the highly expensive postage it cost you to send them their very cheap presents.

 

General Holiday Tips and Tricks 🙂

  1. Stay classy!
  2. Be sassy!
  3. You cannot sing four-part carol harmonies by yourself
  4. Do you enjoy the finer things in life but don’t have the budget for it?  Invite yourself to as many holiday parties as possible, show up with cheap wine (or say, “I made homemade cookies decorated to look like the cast of The Great British Baking Show, but I accidentally left them on the bus”). Then eat everything.
  5. Watch The Great British Baking Show: Holiday Special, and enjoy the tasty and tasteful treats the bakers spend hours crafting, as you stick your hand repeatedly into a bag of store-bought cookies shaped like stars.

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May you have a cozy and restful holiday season!

I Had the Weirdest Dream Last Night…

In all fairness, compared to the typical unusual level of my dreams, last night’s was extremely tame.

I dreamed I was going to the hospital for important surgery, but on my way to the car I decided to head back into my house to grab a notebook and some more miso soup.

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Once inside— where I was suddenly a tavern worker— I decided to help myself to the soup on the table of this husband and wife. The soup was now bean soup for some reason.

As I was leaning over their table, helping myself, the woman stood up and accused me of hitting on her husband. I was shocked. Then she just kind of disappeared, and something fell into the pot I was ladling out of.

I asked her husband where she’d gone. He said she was a witch, and was now in the soup. If she was in the main soup pot on the table I was safe, but if she’d fallen into MY soup bowl and I ate it, she would kill me by burning all the flesh off of my body.

I knew that I probably shouldn’t take the chance, but I still kind of wanted to eat it, because it was really good soup.

As I was deciding what to do my cat jumped on my face and woke me up.

My Hero

Watching TV can be very productive. For example, on while taking in Jeopardy the other day, I learned about Arthur Schopenhauer, the ‘Philosopher of Pessimism.’

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I don’t believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I would think that he was me in a previous life. I’ve never felt so down-trodden and inspired at the same time.

I’ve tried radically changing my personality in order to enjoy life a bit more, but surprisingly that failed. My latest technique is to go full throttle into my negative, pessimistic attitude yet try to enjoy and be delighted by such depressing things.

“Unless suffering is the direct and immediate object of life, our existence must entirely fail of its aim. It is absurd to look upon the enormous amount of pain that abounds everywhere in the world, and originates in needs and necessities inseparable from life itself, as serving no purpose at all and the result of mere chance. Each separate misfortune, as it comes, seems, no doubt, to be something exceptional; but misfortune in general is the rule.”

-Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Sufferings of the World

 

It’s Maaaaaaagic!

I’ve had some stupid ideas in my life, including some which I’m very proud of.

But my ‘most stupidest’ of thoughts are the ones which cycle through my head daily…like laundry…but if laundry was something that was supposed to take pristine clothes and roll them around in dirt. [In case none of you noticed, I just wrote a poem]

…for example, my idea of “perfection” involving me magically becoming a person who does not need to be perfect:

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…or my obsession with happiness, living in the present, connection, and finding meaning being the biggest roadblocks to me actually achieving those things:

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But maybe, after all these years, I’ve developed a soft spot for these ridiculous yet endearing things I do.

No. No, I haven’t.

“I love Rejection”

This was posted on facebook when someone shared my blog. I thought the comment was also worth sharing: “I LOVE rejection. Means I hit a nerve…”

What an interesting way to look at it, Diana.

The comment made me want to share my favorite type of rejection/reaction to my work, the doesn’t even know how to react:

“It’s very…creative.” (said with disdain)

“I don’t even know how to respond to this.”

and

“Are you being serious?”

Share your favorite rejections below!

A Sensible Life, Part III: The Best Advice I’ve Ever Heard

I’m sure you’re dying to know how my quest to find a sensible career is coming.

My subconscious has a tradition, whenever I am either in the midst of a significant life change, to give me extremely violent nightmares.

Well, lately I’ve been having extremely violent nightmares. They’re usually quite intricate, with a full-blown plot and lovable characters (who die gruesomely yet poetically).

And of course, there is one exception: sometimes I get violent, bloody dreams when I’m about to make an incredibly stupid decision. It’s like a helpful compass.

I may become a therapist yet…but not yet. Not yet. I have unfinished business to do first.

***

I sat down with my parents the other day, and kindly shared that I would still be needing their money, but for different studies that I had previously mentioned. It was something I’d never asked for money for before: something not sensible.

They just listened.

I said something along the lines of, “I’ve always loved art…and creativity… But this goes against every fiber of my being. I’m afraid that if I put money—your money—into schooling which has very little guarantee of a job after graduation, let alone a lucrative career, I will end up losing what’s really important: my money. And then I won’t be able to pay for rent, or food, and I’ll die of a combination of starvation and humiliation.”

Silence.

So I awkwardly filled the silence with, “A career is not something to fiddle with. A career should be sensible. Sensible.”

To which my dad responded, “I’ve always thought it’s best to have an un-sensible life and sensible shoes.”

Thank you, dad.

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