Everything is dumb right now.
From nose to tail, we have become the dumbest, saddest pig at the county fair. Historians will not refer to this period as THE DARK AGES, but rather, THE DUMB AGES. The greatest question I get, right now, is how to simply persist creating art and staying motivated and creative in this epoch of syphilitic dipshittery, so I thought I’d bop in here and try my hand at answering that.
1. Stop staring at the news and at social media. This is hard, because presently the news is a series of constantly crashing cars right outside your window. One after the next, bang, smash, crash. The symphony of shrieking metal is very, very hard to turn away from. In many eras, the news is only marginally relevant to you on a day to day basis but, to me it seems that ratio is going up, up, up. The healthcare debacle alone affects me, um, rather significantly. If I don’t have access to healthcare via health insurance, then this thing that I do gets a whole lot harder. Just the same, I gotta know to turn away from it. The news is a vampire. It’ll bleed you dry and leave you a desiccated husk on the carpet. You can look at it, but pick your times. Write or make art first, then go and stare into the unswerving gaze of Sauron himself.
2. Writing is an act of resistance. Art is an act of resistance. Shit, just living your life in the maelstrom is resistance. Here’s how you know when something is a act of resistance: would the Shitty People, the Petty Men with Axes, want you to do it? No? Then do it. They want you showing your belly. They want you to stop contributing your ideas. They want you to shut the fuck up. So, don’t. Don’t get sad. Get mad. Get fucking pissed. And then —
3. Put that piss and vinegar into the work. Pour it right in. Glug, glug, splish-splash.
4. Do some real resistance, too. Make your calls. Join a protest. Contribute some cash to an organization who will carry the fight in ways you cannot. Key point: do this after you’re done doing the thing you need to do. You know how the airlines tell you to put on your own mask first? Put on your own mask first. Make the words. Art the art. Eat that cheese. Pluck that banjo. Then when you are done for the day, get down to the acts of resistance major and minor.
5. Hey, also, just take care of yourself. These are dumb times and dumb times often call for tireless marathons of beer and donuts and naps — and definitely do those things from time to time! — but also, like, eat some fucking vegetables, get some exercise, get some rest. Trust me, I get it, pretty much every day I hit a period where I’m like, “The best thing I can do right now would be to drink whiskey until I stop recognizing the world,” but I don’t, because I have to stay sharp. I have to stay sharp to make stuff and to be ready for whatever this era of epic stupid is going to throw at me. Take care of your shit.
6. Don’t dismiss what you do. If you’re making the words dance or you’re snapping photos or drawing pictures, and you worry that what you’re doing is somehow shallow or insignificant, fuck that right in the banana-pipe. Even at the barebones level, entertainment has value. In times far worse than these, people needed to be entertained — not in a bread and circuses way, but in a way where, if you wanna regain some sanity and light in the middle of deep fuckery, then you need something fun. If you’re writing to entertain, I salute you. No shame in that. You’re awesome. Keep doing it.
7. But also don’t be afraid to go bigger. If your mode is to use the work to carry a greater message or elevate your ideas or to even just contextualize the bees and murder that are currently living in your heart, hey, do that. Do whatever you gotta. Just make stuff. It feels good. And we need you to do it.
8. Art has meaning. Obama talked about the books that made him who he was. Most world leaders are readers. There are reasons that a book like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is so popular right now — art leaves its mark, indelible and essential, and it helps us both understand what has come before, what will come again, and what’s happening right now. It gives context and inspiration. It challenges and us and can unfuck our heads — even as it sometimes fucks with our heads in equal measure.
9. Talk to others like you. Sometimes you just have to be with your people. Either to commiserate about current global shenanigans or, better yet, just to talk shop. Talking shop energizes me. The news enervates me. Find your people. And together, you find your way.
10. Remain cautiously, grimly optimistic. Optimism is hard. So fucking hard. Optimism is in itself an act of resistance. But optimism, as long as it’s not blind and naive, has value — and can inspires others to be the same. I’m not saying to simply assume that everything will be magically fine. But optimism paired with a bit of realism and a lot of effort can actually do a world of good. The world has gone wonky in the last year, but we still live in a far better time than most other times throughout history. We still have dogs and otters. We still have shitloads of ice cream. We still have options and a way out of the storm. We have art, too — ours, and others. Train your brain to look for good stuff. And even better, train your brain to look for ways to make things better — in small ways, in big ways. And then, most importantly, train your brain to make art. Think about words. Think in images. Distract yourself with your work. Be hopeful, if not about the world, then about what you can contribute to it. Make cool shit. The end.
How do you stay motivated in this cauldron of shit-soup we call a world?
(Also, thanks to everyone who came by and commented yesterday. Rest assured, the blog ain’t going anywhere, and shall remain at normal operations, probably until I die of beer and donuts.)
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Also, hey, here, have this: I’ll put my Mega-Ultra-Book-Bundle on sale, 50% off with coupon code MAKECOOLSTUFF. It’s got eight writing books and two novels, so ten books for ten bucks. Go grabby grabby if you so choose.