Ways To Stay Motivated In This Shit-Shellacked Era Of Epic Stupid

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.

203 comments

  • July 8, 2017 at 10:17 AM // Reply

    Sounds dumb but I rescue horses-one at a time-focus on their rehabilitation and re home them. I focus on the success of finally being able to touch one, the first time they approach me of their own accord, their grace, their earthy horsey smell, the first time we have a really great ride and come together as a team…all of it makes me whole again. I revel in each success. I have lupus and ankylosing spondylitis and the fear the current healthcare debate causes in my heart is very real……. I stay away from the news until some idiot I run into asks me “did you hear……” I am optimistic that the current scenario is such a shit show (kind of like the dark ages) that it will usher in a new era (maybe a new Renaissance) ?????

  • A very good piece. I try, trust me, I try to be optimistic every day, and when I follow your advice, some days it works. Then reality hits in the face and I tend to say fuck it! Sorry Charlotta Bright Norby but cussing is better than drinking or smoking weed or kicking the shit out of some asshole (and really, I’m not sorry that I cuss. It helps me maintain my sanity).

    The reality is this piece will not be read by more than 99.9% of the population. The vast majority of them don’t read and the reason is your number one piece of advice. The media has inured us to the reality of what is happening around us so we all escape to our own little realities within us – not all of us (the people responding to your piece is proof of that – they did take the time to read it) but enough that it makes me wonder how we can resist. All these folks will go back to writing and resisting in their own ways but there is something missing. Unity! A common goal. Many of the responses here are proof of that. Each has there own little gripe that they want to solve – like not cussing!? WTF?!

    We have been divided for so long now that unity seems an impossible dream. We need to be able to understand that each of us is different and has different goals but if we don’t discover that one unifying factor we are toast. We need to be able to let others live their lives as they wish as long as it doesn’t hurt others. What is that one common factor? What allows each of us to pursue our dreams? It is total freedom! We have to toss the shackles of our current government and start over on the that our forefathers laid out for us regardless of how old or outdated many people think they are. Our country grew up on the principles of the Constitution. Very basic principles that our newer generations have not been properly instructed on.

    The powers to be, our puppeteers, are leading us on a path of self destruction. Lets cut the strings and renew our faith in what has worked to get us this far. Throw out all current members of congress and elect local, non-partisan people with no agenda other than strengthening the bonds of the constitution.

    I have to stop here before I take over your wonderful blog. Keep it short and to the point. People won’t read long pieces. Give them enough to want to come back for more. I’ll be coming back as long as you continue to write truth, justice, liberty and freedom.

  • I write. Daily, these days. And in setting a story in the Dark Ages, I find inspiration in the insipid reality of our age, to give those who fought for their own time a reason to battle against oppression.

  • A good reminder. Thanks.

    I take photos and write poetry but it always has had my own particular style. A style that is not about doing things the ‘right’ way or saying things that everybody can relate to. I don’t think like everyone else so I don’t create photos or poems that win competitions or critical acclaim.

    I used to think it was just that I was no good but I have read and seen a lot out there and really, I don’t want to be just like them. I was told by a writer of some renown that I need to write like she does to get attention and acclaim. Maybe I should just plod along and write the way I like, faulty and imperfect as it is, and not worry about what other think?

    It would be nice for someone to like what I do but I don’t write or take photos for acclaim really.

    If anyone is interested:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/77665088@N05/
    https://miksture.blogspot.com.au/

  • July 14, 2017 at 2:30 AM // Reply

    Aloha from Hawaii, so far away form the mainland crazies! So grateful to live on an island in the middle of the south pacific, were most people think twice before doing something awful, because there is no where to run. You will be found.

    Personally, I am dealing with the crazies on the mainland. My daughter had her children taken from her in Key West, Florida, because She was a VICTIM of domestic violence. In other words, the tiny town of Key West could not provide help for her, being the battered women as she was, so they turned the tables and took her beautiful, healthy, five children. The children in turn became a quote for federal funding for the Wesley house in Key West. They also became a commodity to sell for profit in the future.

    They turned three of the children into special needs, and drugged them, because special needs children provided more federal funding. They were not special needs before they were taken.

    The children have family who love them and who have provided from them in the past. I as their loved grandmother and my youngest daughter, their “auntie” have been trying to bring them home since the day they were taken. My daughter and the children where living with us in Hawaii, before they returned to their abusive father in Florida.

    Presently the children are up for adoption. They never even contacted me to tell me they are up for adoption. Grandparents in Florida have no legal rights.

    I promised my grandchildren that I would never give up on them, and i never will. I am trying to adopt them however the bureaucracy of Key West would rather they go to distant relatives of the father, who is both an abuser and registered sex offender, and who would be able to have contact with the children, rather than with family whom the children know and love.

    We are both Swedish/American and can give them the best of both worlds. Adopting the children out to a rear by family in Florida, will allow the federal funding to continue for the foster care. Sick, Unintelligent, people! And the children continue to suffer.

    When I explained this situation to the Swedish authorities, they thought I was lying. They could not imagine this happening in the United States. Until I showed the prof. They were shocked!
    Fortunately we live in Hawaii, where life is way more peaceful and intelligent than most places on the mainland.

    Thank you for your blog, It has given me strength to continue to be angry and fight for my dear loved ones.

    • Sad to hear about the peril your grandchildren are in. It seems all to common these days that children pay the price for authorities taking the easy path even though there are better options available for their care. I hope that someone listens and does the right thing!

  • Thanks for this. It’s vital that we fight the stupid. Even with weird fantasy novels and epic alternate-history romance and other genres which the establishment doubtless finds laughable. Any glimpse of an alternate world to this one must offer hope. It may or may not be art, but we must keep doing it.

  • Hi – the difference between what I know and what I don’t know, is infinity. Therefore, the difference between what I think I know, and what I don’t know, is also infinite, and consequently I realise that I know fuckall. As hope is vested only in the unknown, I can can be entirely optimistic as a result. Therefore we are stuck with belief. At present there is a huge stock of bullshit nonsense belief going around, as a consequence of depression, alienation from the life force, fear-generated greed, greed generated and cultivated ignorance. It is a high-pressure time on the approach to catharsis, the change release mechanism for anally retentive humanity. Since we have thrown out truckloads of babies with the bathwater, we have little to help us avoid pain, the agent of change. It’s the only way we learn.

  • This is so beautiful, I literally cried. Yes, YES! to all of this, a resounding YES! Thank you so much for reminding all of us!

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