Boredom (Or Binging On Breaking Bad)

Here it is, Day 2. Well, guess I’m doing okay so far!

In the Tim Ferriss – Seth Godin I was listening to the other day, Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite contemporary fiction authors, gets brought up. Turns out Gaiman is respected by both Ferriss and Godin – no surprise to me, considering how good he is at what he does. Godin brings up an interesting fact about Gaiman:

Neil famously had said that the way he writes a book is he makes himself extremely bored. And, if he’s bored enough, a book’s gonna come out, because he needs to entertain himself!

This is brought up in the context of what Godin calls “conservation of Fear” and the “cognitive load.” Basically, he’s talking about why he doesn’t use Twitter because, although it would offer some extra hits of engagement with his readers, it would take up mental energy that would be better spent writing his blog. If this were to happen, he wouldn’t be abled to get bored enough to do what really matters to him!

I wanted to bring this up because yesterday, I was feeling quite bored. But instead of catching myself, I started binge-watching the show Breaking Bad. This is something I occasionally do when I am feeling Resistance and don’t want to own up to it. Today, I am getting back on track, but I still feel a pang of regret for having wasted my time and mental energy.

Being an impresario requires a lot of self-awareness, yes. But more than that, it requires the courage to Act. The hardest thing for me to do last night was pick up the pen and write, or sit down at my piano and start to play, and I failed the test (and now I am punishing myself by posting a public confession for all to see). The good news is that these occasions are actually our friends, because they show us when it’s time to Act, when it’s time to get down to business – to “get better at the things we want to get better at”, as Godin puts it.

This, for me, anyway, an Impresario in the embryonic stages, may be the first step. The step is two-fold: recognizing my Resistance (when I’m bored, can’t sleep, etc.), and taking a definite Action to overcome it. Although I love Breaking Bad, I’ve seen it before (well, except the final season, which I am not-so-secretly itching to get my hands on), and know for sure that it’s not exactly going to help me become a better Impresario.

The Impresario’s time is precious and he must be very wise with it. Neil Gaiman allows himself to get bored because he knows that he will sit down at his word processor and start writing.

What “techniques” do you use to get your own creative juices flowing? I’d like to hear about them. Just send me an email: piersonkeatingmusic@gmail.com. And thanks for reading.

Oh, and here’s the episode of the podcast I’ve been citing in this post and also the previous one.

Daily Blogging: Dream or Discipline?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “impresario,” and what that means in today’s culture of web 2.0, social media, and hyper-connectivity. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, an “impresario” originally meant, simply, someone who organizes, and sometimes funds, operas. The guy who really took that term and brought it back into popular consciousness is Seth Godin, known widely as the most popular marketing guru, well, of this century (so far). Mr. Godin is one of my favorite authors and fountains of wisdom, and I derive a lot of my attitudes and ideologies from him. (His book Tribes is a must read.)

In any event, I was driving along, really feeling quite bored, as I tend to do on long drives, and decided to search for “seth godin impresarios” on YouTube. The first result that came up was an episode of Tim Ferriss’ podcast, where he interviews Mr. Godin. Of course, I ate it up. I am sure that a series of re-listens will be in order for this one, but the biggest thing I got out of it was actually Seth’s dedication to daily blogging, and his view that anyone with a blog should be similarly dedicated. Seth’s words:

Everyone should blog, even if it’s not under their own name, every single day. If you are in public, making predictions and noticing things, your life gets better, because you find a discipline that can’t help but benefit you.

This got my wheels going a bit – huh? Every single day? C’mon, Seth, do you actually see that as attainable? I mean, obviously, it’s attainable for you, but what about the rest of us? But then I realized: Wait a second! What if, just what if, I were to actually start blogging every day?

The power of this question was, and is, seductive to me. I love to write, and I love to blog. I believe in blogging because it provides a forum where someone who’s “making predictions and noticing things” can bring his ideas into consciousness – without having to publish an entire book. Of course, we can still write books, but why hold off?

Things like “Thirty Day Challenges” rarely work for me. One of the ironic dilemmas I face as someone who really believes in the act of blogging is that I may not always be in line, twenty-four hours later, with the values, or the desires, or the convictions, I put my forth in any given blog post. This being the case, I will simply ask the question,

“Boy, how cool would it be if I were to write a blog post every day?”

Why would I write a blog post every day? How would such a practice serve me? More importantly, how would it serve you, the reader? These are all questions worth asking. After all, doing anything every day is a Big Life Decision – actually, it’s a decision that has to be made repeatedly, every twenty-four hours. In Stephen Pressfield’s War of Art, he unceasingly drives home the conviction that the true artist, or, “professional,” shows up “seven days a week.” This is the central tenet of Seth Godin’s Impresario. Godin talks about the Impresario as being the next, higher level from the Entrepreneur because the Impresario really is an Artist at heart – somebody who’s not afraid to put himself and his ideas out there, day after day.

Probably the biggest reason I’m inspired to start blogging daily is because I have so many ideas about this Impresario and what he or she could mean for the world. For me personally, Artistry extends so far beyond just the Art, and this has becoming increasingly obvious to me in recent years. Blogging daily would, for me, be a way to consolidate my ideas, in a much more organized, trackable, chronological way. It would allow me to explore even further the implications of the Impresario, and to allow such explorations to be made public, so readers like you could follow the trajectory and offer outside experience. And it would, hopefully, offer value to the growing litany of resources and conversations about the Impresario.

The subject of Impresarios is so breathtakingly huge and has so many implications in virtually every area of modern life, that I feel a responsibility to explore it in some capacity. Blogging about it every day could be just one way to start to explore this New World. But do I have it in me to be a Daily Blogger? I guess we’ll see tomorrow.

If any of my emotionally-charged musings provoke a desire to interact with me, the best way to do that is to send an email to piersonkeatingmusic@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

A Lesson From Meg Murray

 

IMG source http://dannimcgriffith.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/talosian1.jpg

In Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, young Meg Murray must save her brother, Charles Wallace, from IT, a huge, menacing thing in the form of a human brain. Soon after arriving on the planet Camazotz, a rigid, formulaic place where everyone seems to be living in fear, Charles Wallace falls prey to the brainwashing of IT, becoming insolent, spiteful, and slightly sadistic. Meg finds Charles paralyzed under IT’s pulsing “heartbeat”, and as Charles begins to hurl words of discouragement at her, she suddenly realizes the one thing she has that IT does not: Love. Ultimately, it is her love that saves Charles Wallace from IT, and that reunites them both with their father and with the book’s three other protagonists, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which.

A bit fantastical, I know, but to me, not too far from reality. I believe we all have little ITs inside of us, threatening to lure us into submission at any moment. The oversized human brain in L’Engle’s story is simply a metaphor for the normal-sized one in your head and mine. Much like the all-controlling IT, and its insistent pulse, our brains are excellent at keeping up what has allowed us to survive over millions of years: efficiency, fear, and unremarkability.

I heard in a podcast not too long ago (think it was Joe Rogan’s) that we evolved to not stand out, because doing so would make us more susceptible to prey, thus killing off our chances for procreation. (You see examples of this in bugs that evolved to look like sticks or leaves, and a moth whose color matches the tree trunk it’s resting on.) To put it simply, biology would have us be completely faded into the background.

Unfortunately, the “default setting” that biology has preferred is not what’s going to allow us to thrive. Survival is attained through fitting in, and that is just perfect for creating a species. But what’s required for survival is the exact opposite of what is required to thrive. To thrive, we need to throw all that stuff out the window, because we’re not being pursued by predators anymore. At least, not the kind with sharp teeth who want to eat us for dinner.

The predators that we are faced with are of a different kind, and perhaps one of the most important ones is Stagnation. Stagnation, though, is actually not a predator to the Lizard Brain (the part of our brain that wants us to survive and not thrive), because the Lizard Brain doesn’t care if we stagnate. (Seth Godin has a lot to say about the Lizard Brain in The Icarus Deception.) But to what Robert Kiyosaki in Rich Dad Poor Dad calls the “human spirit”, Stagnation is perhaps the biggest predator of all.

We can take a lesson from Meg Murray. It may be a little too much to say that Love is the answer, but it’s sure apparent that if the “human spirit” has anything that the Lizard Brain does not, it’s Love. That’s because Love has nothing to do with survival. You don’t need Love to survive, you just need to not call attention to yourself – or be a faster runner than the thing that wants to eat you for dinner. But to thrive, to have an extraordinary life, or even just a good life, something else is required. Something loud, out in the open, and hard to miss. Or maybe it’s subtle.

Either way, it’s bigger than fitting in. And, much like standing out would in the jungle, not doing it will kill you in the long run.

The Mystique of the “Big Record Deal”, Part 1

I’ve always thought a good deal about record deals. What are they? How does an artist, or a band, obtain one? What does the artist, or band, need to have, or do? Do they need to seek out the record label, or does the record label seek them out? Is the “big record deal” something that everyone can have, or does it only come to the “chosen few”?

Unfortunately, I was soon to find that there are no answers to these questions, or if there are, they are very vague and blurry. Who’s to say what it takes for a great band to find a record label who would be willing to invest in them, and vice versa? It would make sense that an amazing band, such as The Beatles, would inevitably attract EMI records, just because they are that good. But in an alternate universe, would they be overlooked?

A lot of factors go into play here. Today, more factors go into play than ever before. As I thought I understood how the business used to work, you would form a band, work really hard, practice all the time, and hopefully get signed. Nowadays, this formula couldn’t be further from the truth.

Seth Godin speaks about finding a “partner” in his podcast, “Startup School.” He says that back in the day, a person such as Casey Kasem would serve as a “partner” to the artist in question, having them on the radio, bringing them into the networks that would help them garner a huge following. He reminds us that artists don’t, and never have, wanted to deal with the headache of keeping track of fans, maintaining them, supplicating to them, and assimilating them. The artist, as I touched on in the last post, just wants to do his art.

This is where the “partner” comes into play. But Godin’s concept of the “partner” was more of one person, someone who worked for and with the artist to help them create and manage the following and “get themselves out there.” He said nothing of record labels or deals.

The reason I’ve always been fascinated by record labels is because they seem so elusive. Everyone wants one, or thinks they do, but no one really seems to know how to get one – in the sense of knowing a more or less direct path. That’s because there is no direct path. There are no steps to take. There’s no “first do this, then do this.” (If I ever figure it out, I will come out with a step-by-step product.)

Godin, the pace-setter of entrepreneurship, seems to still believe in the artist doing his part – writing a blog a day, having an e-mail list, being ferociously up to par with social media, et cetera. However, he also says in this podcast that a partner can serve as a very helpful tool to do these things efficiently. In the next post, I’d like to discuss whether the idea of a “partner” can be extended to that of a “major record label” in today’s anti-major record label environment.

Do you feel that a partnership with a big company can be beneficial to someone trying to make a splash? What are some dangers?