Monster in Your Closet

Failure is achieved through hard work, determination and risk. Failure is a mark of distinction, a badge of honour, a sign of courage.

Most of us fear failure; failure is the monster in our closet, keeping us awake at night, so we always leave a light on.

We cosset ourselves in jobs that are safe, in relationships that are sound (though perhaps passionless), we compromise, we mitigate, we settle. We insulate our lives against highs and lows. We minimise failure. We swallow any failures quickly and painfully; we don’t talk about them, share them or learn from them.

We hide failure like we hide dandruff, anti-depressants, drunken sex tapes and strange relatives – in a deep basement of embarrassment, shame and regret.

However, failure is a mark of success. Glorious success in life, love and business usually follows harsh and narrow road pockmarked with failure. Here’s the thing – you need to embrace failure first. See failure as an opportunity, not an embarrassment. Don’t define yourself by your failures but recognise them for what they are – stepping stones on the road to success.

Yes, there’s a Monster in Your Closet but it’s time to turn off that light and introduce yourself. Be brave. Fail big. It’s worth it.

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A loyal, three legged dog

For the first time in a long time, I wrote something for me this morning. I haven’t put pen to paper for one of my characters in a long time; I’ve been distracted by the stories I tell for others. Their characters are more demanding, less flexible and extremely loud. They whinge if I ignore them. Mine are mild mannered and so neglected that they sit quietly in the corners of my brain I access the least, waiting forever patiently to pay them some attention, like a loyal, three legged dog with one eye.

But, I wrote something for me this morning and then again at lunch time and perhaps I will write some more on my train journey home. My writing familiar is hobbling along with me (figuratively speaking). He’s quite nimble, for a three legged creature and he’s helped me open the floodgate, just a smidgen. The words are flowing steadily to the thumping of his stubby tail and while the words aren’t a raging flood that threatens to consume me (yet), I’m enjoying their ebb and flow.

I’m not sure how I feel about sharing the process with the world in draft form but I think I just might force myself…watch this space (but don’t be disappointed if I change my mind – something about prerogative?)

PS. I’m really sorry for the long enduring span of digital silence – I was on a different channel.
PPS. Winter’s now over and bare feet are back – especially around the new office:)

No three legged one eyed dogs were harmed in the writing of this post.

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Let there be light!

Thanks to our beloved in house illumination consultant, the Blue Room now sports low voltage, high watt, eco friendly uber chic downlights.  Hooray Mr Edison, we have come so far!

For the moment though, we will leave the blinds open and bask in the late afternoon sun a while longer.  While I appreciate the wonderful artificial illumination now installed in my ceiling, I much prefer the natural kind.

Creative illumination can come from both found and natural sources.  Found creative illumination includes the books, blogs and boastings of others. It encompasses all the tweeting, the ‘tubing’ (not sure if that one’s going to catch on), the commenting, the clarifying, the quantifying, the listening, the thinking, the joining and the questioning of life. This is connect the dots creative illumination; we do it every day as we interact and react with the world.*

And then there’s the alternate, more allusive, heartbreakingly infrequent, breathtaking intensity of natural creative illumination.  It’s the moment when an idea rises from the deep cavern of your soul and crystallises in the light.  A unique and joyous, momentous and fear-crushing flash of possibility.

Run with it – go…now! Yes, people might think you’re crazy (and they aren’t necessarily wrong) but crazy can be wonderful, crazy creates energy and your brand of crazy might be just what the world needs.

The fear will return but the idea hangs around; you will question whether this idea, your idea, is worth anything.  I’ll leave you with this:

You know its a good idea when it makes your heart sing.

*Some intellectual fascists might analyse this statement as post-modern. They might even venture that all creativity is only pastiche – digital and academic decoupage. My advice to them would be to stop trying to draw the lines straight and just enjoy the picture. Your frame is just as fleeting as mine.

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Creativity in Darkness

Hello world!

I’m back, sorry it’s been a while.  I’ve been busy though, beavering away on books and blogs (other’s sadly) and business.  However, I am back on the grid.  Stay tuned for some exciting new things I’m plunging into (feet first, of course).

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity lately – where it comes from, how it happens, what happens when creativity is stifled, squashed or hidden underneath that heavy rock called ‘job’. I’ve got creativity on the brain, thanks to Maria over at Brain Pickings and Clare at The Creative Arts House.

An except from John Cleese’s 1991 lecture on creativity Maria’s post*, which got me thinking (and guest blogging) about types of creativity and thought space. You can read my ruminations over at The CAH blog, once they are published.

Other than that, the only news is that tonight, I type this post from my new office (from this day forward known as The Blue Room, for no other reason than the robin’s egg blue paint on its walls).  I am typing in the dark, as The Blue Room lacks any illumination, save the glow from my iMac. With that, here is my thought for this evening:

You can create through the darkness; you just need to find the right source of light.

___

*Maria – I do hope I have used the Curator’s Code correctly.  Let me know if I haven’t and I will correct quick smart!

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Finding stillness

Happy 2012…you’ve now had a month and a half to adjust, make and break resolutions and recover socially, emotionally and physically from the holidays.  Welcome back to (somewhat) normal life.

I, for one, fell off the grid in late November in a flurry of year ending activity and mayhem.  I then took myself off line, ignored phone calls and buried myself in books, wine and food.  I didn’t even write.  I forced fed my brain – page after page of beautiful, heartbreaking, soul-bending stories.*  It took several days, several books and several bottles of wine (consumed responsibly of course) before my mind quieted.  The whirring between my ears stopped.  I felt still.

Stillness is important. An emptied mind is a blank page ready to be inked.  Find a way to empty and begin again.

*A partial list of holiday reading:

  • The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudycz Lupescu (highly recommended)
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obrecht
  • Knowing your Value by Mika Brzezinski
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (finally! I’ve been picking this up and putting it down for years…it’s a particular book for a particular time.  When the time comes it’s worth every page.)
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
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Pride Commeth

As the old saying goes, pride commeth before a fall.  That may well be but today, I am happy to risk it because I am allowing myself to be proud.  Ok, so it’s a little achievement.  It’s not a nuclear armistice or a corporate merger.  It will not save the world or a make a global difference but today, I inspired a child – in fact, I think I might have inspired more than one.

Children are funny creatures; as we grow up we forget what it was like to be seeking information – eyes and ears open wide with minds like steel traps that never forget what you never meant them to hear.  I don’t have any children of my own yet, these were a borrowed group of intrepid travellers who ventured with me on a journey to discover one of the world’s greatest playwrights. It was a tumultuous ride – cyclonic actually and harrowing to the end.  But at that end, there was joy and discovery and pride and maybe, just maybe, a future devotee of the Bard or the craft or our language itself.

If I’ve learned anything from the kids, it’s to remember that the world is full of wonder and possibility and I should keep my eyes and ears wide open (and my mouth firmly shut…if my ranting and raving for order in the chaos has any deeper subtext!).

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The Burden of Choice

There’s no better or worse place to be than facing two amazing, yet polar opposite opportunities, and only being able to choose one.  On the left hand, how magnificent to have the choice but on the right, the weight of that choice is exceptional.

We make choices every day: what to have for breakfast, when to stop for coffee, what type of pens to order, what clothes to wear, which friends to meet…making choices is a skill everyone practices everyday.  It’s a good thing we practice because once in a while we are faced with a choice so mammoth, the weight of the decision crushes against your chest.

Life-altering choices. Terrifying, sometimes crippling – oddly exhilarating.

Anticipation and worry have kept sleep at bay and knots in my stomach, as I await confirmation that, indeed, there is a decision to be made.  Perhaps the decision will be made for me and only one magnificent opportunity will be laid at my feet but should there be two…I will be forced to choose between a life-long dream and the opportunity of a lifetime. Neither are related.  There is no way to do both; one path leads to fulfilment and one to achievement.  Mutually exclusive? No.  They will both lead somewhere unimaginable but strikingly different. Choice is a blessing, an opportunity and a regret all rolled into one.

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken remains one of my favourite poems; whenever I am faced with the burden of choice, this poem’s indelible lines burn bright from somewhere deep in memory.

Two roads diverged in a wood – and I

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference.

***

What choices will you make next week? Will you choose the path less travelled by?

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