You Are Not Creative Pt. 2

Now Playing

With the rise of my blogging career (you're free to laugh at that), I've come to realize that there's little I want to discuss which does not involve creativity. It's surprisingly complicated and misunderstood. I think that's why most people either a.) give up on their dreams when they involve being creative or b.) never consider themselves "creatives" in the first place. My husband is in the latter group. 

The concept as a whole seems draped in this fake fog, which I blame the entire industry for. Just like how successful people don't like discussing their failures (thus making their road out to be easy), creatives don't like being honest about the real process of creating. We like shiny things. We like people thinking that every inch of our brain is made up of nothing but beauty and inspiration.

But you want to know the dirty secret? 

It's nothing like that.

Almost everyone I've explained my creative process to has acted shocked. Like it's a surprise that I don't pump out songs with every intense wave of emotion I feel, right in the moment I feel it, with tears in my eyes and swells in my heart, as every word rolls off my tongue like honey. 

No.

(And no, not every creative can live in the city, no matter how much they want to, because cities are expensive and art is under appreciated.)

It's more like I walk around with a notebook for months, read books and highlight anything that hits me, and sit down by myself one night, praying to God I can create anything that doesn't make me turn my nose up. 

And yes, this process has gotten easier over the years. But only because of one very important thing that nobody wants to admit:

Creativity is a muscle, and you have to exercise it. 

You have to write 100 songs, sift through them, and come out the other side with only 2 worth exploring further.

You have to fill 5 notebooks with thoughts and emotions and completely disregard them if you're lucky enough for inspiration to strike. 

Because just like you can't wait to be motivated to do work, you can't wait for "inspiration" to create. Inspiration is a fickle, passionate lover. And if we know anything about those kinds of lovers, it's that they're unreliable. 

And if we wait, we get stale. We get cold, depressed, and no longer feel as deeply as we did. Because humans are supposed to create without motivation, and some of us are acutely aware of that. We've seen parents and friends settle into lives and jobs they never wanted in the first place, and we use that as our inspiration, because we know that no matter how bad the stale moments get, it's sure as hell better than the alternative. 

The moments you slam your head against your keyboard, not able to find a single word in the wasteland that is your brain? Worth it.

The spiel you've pieced together over the last three holidays to explain to family members "what you do with your time"? Worth it. 

Every cold, winter night you've driven home from a photoshoot, gig, or coffee shop (where all you can afford is the small coffee), with only $20 to show for your time, and are so exhausted you can't even cry? Worth it.  

The moment you're on the floor, surrounded by papers, with nothing to show for your 3 hours of songwriting? ...Worth it. (I have to convince myself of this one sometimes.)

So no, we are not professional creatives because we have a God-ordained gift that is only given to the chose ones. We are professional creatives because we've had the stamina to push through the bad moments, when others gave up.

If I could give you one piece of advice, it's this:

Don't rely on inspiration, it'll fail you ever time. Rely on your human need, it will always be there.

Feeding The Crazy //Columbus > Atlanta//

If I have learned anything over my (nearly) 21 years of life, it's that the best way to stay sane, is to not fight the crazy. Everyone has some extent of crazy in their minds and the human race is obsessed with surprising it.

But me? I feed it. 

Welcome to my world. A world where weeks of emotional crisis don't mean staying home, but day trips, loud music, and exploring places you probably shouldn't be. 

(Un)Lucky for me, I live in Atlanta, my best friend lives in Columbus. So when the crazies come crashing in, or I have weeks of confusion and doubt, there is nothing better than a long, mindless drive to my best friend and her cats. 

I usually listen to whatever gets me through traffic on the way there, but my drive back is a sacred time with a history of great ideas and entire songs being written. This is the soundtrack I have accumulated over the last year of this ritual. And yes yes, I know that the entire thing sandwiches most of The 1975's albums, but it just isn't a Columbus drive without their brutally honest lyrics. 

I challenge you to feed the crazy a bit in the coming weeks. Pick a destination about two hours away, go explore, and drive back after dark with this playlist playing. It's amazing how much clarity you can gain. 

 

Playlist:

COLUMBUS > ATLANTA

Keeping the Chains Away

Now Playing

From a young age I was taken around the country with my parents. I don’t just mean week long family ventures either. I mean permanent moves, three day long road trips to see family, last minute excursions to the other side of the country to some body of water I would later forget I’d ever been to, and many more. Yes, my father was in the air force for a while, and that is still the reason I give people for all the excisions, but it was so much more complicated than that. 

I was homeschooled, and yes we were a Christian family, but that was only one reason my mom made that decision. From the beginning she had a vision of how our curriculum was going to be built and how our travels were going to teach us more than a classroom ever would. I can hardly go a day without feeling deep gratitude for that woman’s bold decision. 

 

So we traveled. We were not a rich family, yet there was almost never a year we didn’t go somewhere new. As time went on and we all got older, DC became Toronto, and the Great Lakes became England.

I grew up learning that meeting new people was better than any material possession. That each new story you hear and culture you are exposed to is like a gem around your neck, and a piece of gold in your memories.

I didn’t even care about all of the moves until I got older and realized that social dynamics were very different after middle school, and that being the “new kid” wasn't necessarily a positive thing anymore. 

But I’ve come to realize this: Traveling kept the chains away.

The shackles that tie themselves around people’s thoughts never even existed to me. I’ve never had any judgment toward people. I have never had to get up the courage to do something new, because I was literally nurtured to thrive off of it. I have never struggled with empathy. I am always genuinely interested in what people have to say. I love to learn both from books and life. I am expressive in multiple forms of art and never hesitate with it.

Even though this lifestyle did breed other issues in me (we all have them thanks to that whole humanity thing), I would much rather work through those than more fundamental things that are the reason I am who I am.

So I beg you, travel. It’s never too late to chase the chains away. 

Let cold air hit your face in the middle of July.

Let sand burn your feet.

Embrace 9-hour flights, then embrace the 5 hour road trip, know there is no stop in-between.

Learn to fit your entire life into a carryon.

Learn to find time and rest alone, in the corner of the terminal, with thousands of strangers buzzing around you.

And please, I beg you, if you have them, let your kids learn with you.

Where will you go?

You Are Not Creative

Now Playing

About two weeks ago on a Tuesday I reconnected with a very old friend. After all the hugs and squeals were over with and the obvious questions were asked, (“How are you?” “How was your trip?” “How on earth do you use this parking meter?” …A lot of how’s.) It wasn’t lost on us how different our lives were from our last meeting. In the span of two years we had both gotten married, and she had moved states and had a baby.

I guess she had gone through more changes than me, but whatever.

A little background: She and I were born on the same day of the same year, and basically mirror versions of each other, if one side of said mirror was extraverted and the other painfully introverted. I don’t believe in astrology, but if did our situation would be a goldmine.

So as we shot photos and gabbed about various life changes we came across the topic of creativity inside of marriage, her with her photography and me with music and writing.

 

Highlights of shoot

Highlights of shoot

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but at some point in my young life I started believing marriage would destroy creativity. This point was only ever enforced with the things said around me. You see writers and musicians project this belief daily. I actually have a distinct memory of my sister and brother-in-law saying they weren’t the same creatively after they got married. And as a proud creative myself, there is nothing that will make me run faster. Who could really blame me for pledging myself to a marriage-free life after such a lovely sentiment?  

So the question to myself was: Why? Why did the expectation even exist in the first place? You hear a lot of things about marriage, and I’ve actually found most of them to be true, but true of the most unenlightened, unmotivated, begrudged take. So where was the grimy root of this?

When I was single, it was myself against the world. I could say whatever I wanted, about whomever I wanted, no matter what that feeling was. And the freedom was that I could put it in whatever format I wanted. I could write the ultimate love song, or I could say screw you in as many or as few words as I wanted.

But now I am not single, and it is no longer just myself against the world. It’s myself, my husband, and my two ferrets against the world. Now I don’t just speak for myself, I speak for my family. I am rightfully more careful with both my pen and my tongue.

But is that how it’s supposed to be?

I have always believed and preached on individuality in relationships (even friendships), so seeing myself mesh into the guarded-tongue housewife mold, I have to ask myself if it’s best for myself and my love, or just easier? And by guarding your spouse from your artistic expression are you actually doing them a disservice? Keeping them from seeing the raw emotion and opinions of who you are, and masquerading it as “being kind”?

Since that conversation I’ve stepped back into my choice of expression, and closer into my relationships. I have felt like myself for the first time in over two years and it has been better and sweeter than anything else. Books have once again become the best company, and Seth is even cuter than before (if that’s possible).

Here is the bare truth: If your only muse is rotating romantic partners, you aren’t creative; you’re emotional and unsatisfied. Until you can look past your relationships and into stories, nature, and experiences, you are not creative.

So no, marriage does not cause you to loose creativity, but it does push you to be brave and find it in other places.

Where do you find yours?

 

On Decision Making

Decisions and “fallowing my gut” have always come rather easy to me. I am an extremely emotional person and, as an INFP, can easily see what my ideal life and world hold. I am also hyper aware of my flaws and how they effect others.

 

Add to that the fact that I somewhat set spontaneity on a pedestal in High School and you just get an emotional whirlwind of a person who doesn’t want anyone else attached to them. Not very glamorous, you guys.

 

When I was 19 the Lord somehow healed me enough that I was able to marry the love of my life without pulling a runaway bride on his adorable little butt. So I guess you can say I’ve grown.

 

But as a result I never went to University, instead opting to spend 10 months in cosmetology school hell learning a skill I hoped would fill my creative, emotional void.

 

Spoiler alert: It didn’t.

 

The year is now 2016, I am 20 years old and I, a natural academic, have never been to college. I always said I would go someday for a degree in literature, but my one requirement was to go somewhere I really wanted to go. The problem is that that place is: A) In an inconvenient location that my husband is NOT going to move to and B) Incredibly expensive.

 

Sometimes “someday” never comes, and sometimes in comes faster than you ever think it would. And my “someday” has already snuck up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder, and is now piggy backing until I kick it off.

 

This Monday I will drive into Midtown Atlanta, drink coffee, and talk about my "someday" with someone who knows more than me, but for now I am in Jacksonville while my husband is working. And sometimes time alone to wander art galleries and drink double dirty chai is all you need to calm the soul. 

 

What do you do when there are so many different parts of you and so many different people to please?

A Reflection On Power. A Thank You.

With Paper Shores having dropped in February, this is a story of its effects on my life three months later. 

I awoke one morning to find it was the middle of March, and something in my subconscious reminded me that my revenue for Paper Shores would be rolling in about now.

So in my sleepy state I rolled over to my phone, remembered my online distributors password, and saw a little number on the screen. I won't be telling how much it was, because the size of the number has no effect on the story, but I can say it was enough that I was surprised. 

I never realized the type of happiness that comes from making money off of your life's work until then. I don't think I've ever been so proud of myself and the people around me as I was in that one moment. I felt the blood rush through my toes, all the way to my fingertips gripping the phone and felt genuinely proud. I would later laugh at myself for getting misty eyed over such a small number, but in that moment I didn't care. It was the first income I've ever received after years of laboring, feeling like I'd failed, almost giving up, then starting all over again. And it felt amazing.

I've always believed in paying for the art you consume and supporting local artists and all that, but after that it holds a deeper meaning. This is how I want to make my living and how I want others to make theirs.

The next time you look to consume any art or media from everyone from Beyonce to the person playing on the street corner, remember the moment I just described. Everyday we have the opportunity to bring unspeakable joy to peoples lives, and that is some power we should take very seriously. 

Thank you to everyone who has bought the song, shared it, streamed it, and continues to do so.

You are beautiful souls.

On Finding Yourself... In the Bizarre

Cool Beans Coffee Roasters, Marietta, GA

Cool Beans Coffee Roasters, Marietta, GA

The sky is dusting snow over Georgia, and I sit in a warm coffee shop facing a window, watching it fall. The snow has always offered a solid level of comfort for me; I expect it's due to how it reflects the state I'm in on a daily bases. Melancholy and hopeful. This kind of weather always makes me want to write, so here we go. My reflections over the past week: the bizarre ways one can find themselves.

Story Time

Enter: A virus. The kind that gives you a fever and the chills at the same time, making it impossibly to do anything comfortably. The bastard.

Enter: Myself. 14, hipster, lover of poetry and other pretentious things. With a pile of blankets over me and a stack of used tissues beside me, my teenage hormones were officially in full drive and causing me to hate everything and everyone. I could just see the coming monday's headline: Teenage Girl Suddenly Dies From New Virus... Parents Said Was "Just a Cold". (But seriously, I could not have been the only one this dramatic at that age.)

I was on my 3rd or 4th day of impending death at this point, so I had worn out my options of entertainment. Then I remembered watching a review of an anime a few days prior. Before this I had only seen a few episodes of one anime, so I wasn't ultra exposed, but I had at least a few more hours left to live, and this "Ouran High School Host Club" thing was on Netflix, so I took the chance.

And it was amazing. Funny, overdramatic, a kaleidoscope of storylines that gradually exposed the motives of all of the characters. It was everything I knew I loved, but brought forth in a medium I would have never guessed. 

And so I fell in love. Since that day I have watched over 60 anime (many multiple times) and don't plan to stop any time soon. 

Oh, and I didn't die.

But until a few days ago I never knew why anime had captured me in the way it did. After all, it doesn't exactly align with my other passions (music, literature, etc.). But then I saw a webcomic that brought it into perspective. 

The comic compared getting a tattoo to painting a house. When you rent a house, you know it belongs to someone else and you won't be there long, you don't paint the walls. But when you own a house, you treat it like it's yours: you paint the walls. Even though getting a tattoo and discovering anime are not related at all, it still struck a chord with me. At the time I was hanging around hipster musicians. They all loved foreign films, poetry, and taco bell, and although I like all of those things (and still do), they weren't mine. I actually remember not telling most of my friends about my new found love for a few months.

Anime was me painting my walls. It was discovering and loving something because I love it and for no other reason. I pinpoint it as the moment I started becoming comfortable with who I was and stopped participating in things because it was expected of me. It has done me so much good, even if the paint is made up of big eyes, bright hair, and dramatic monologs. It just goes to show you how much is in the world to love.

With that said, here is a list of the top 10 anime that have helped me paint my walls:

1) Fruits Basket

2) Ouran High School Host Club

3) Beyond the Boundary

4) Princess Jellyfish

5) Howl's Moving Castle

6) Red Data Girl

7) Soul Eater

8) Attack On Titan

9) My Little Monster

10) Kamisama Kiss

What unexpected things have you painted your walls with? 

My Hopes.

     Today I woke up feeling more loved and appreciated than I ever have before. There's a strong sense of peace within me, knowing I'm right where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. The support from yesterday has even spilled into today and is continuing to make me smile. I am forever regretful to both the friends and strangers who have shown me such love.

While I am in this elated state, I will tell you my hopes for this next year.

My hopes for...

Paper Shores.

For me, it's an old song about being called to greater things and breaking promises I swore I'd keep. For you, I hope it brings you back to a time when you finally felt one door close and another open. I hope it ushers in closure and clarity in those areas, if you haven't gained that already.

My hopes for...

Theadora.

I'm not going to play modest and pretend I don't have high hopes for the upcoming year. In addition to planning on playing live shows again, I will continue to record and develop my sound. I hope to bring more of the euphoria and dreaminess you hear in Paper Shores through electronic element. But my biggest goal is to get back on stage and use my performance skills again.

And with that I'll continue my day, knowing that I'm not settling, and that there are beautiful people in this world worth sharing my art with.