Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Undone Manifesto

Many thanks to the friends who gave me some encouragement and kind words as I hit my blogging seven year itch. In reality, I think it's been about five months, but the time flies quickly when you're trying to think stuff up.It also goes really slowly.

A few friends touched on the fact that it is hard to put yourself out there for scrutiny and I would agree, though I don't think it should be overly hard. As an old boss of mine at the bookstore used to say, "This is not an inner-city emergency room we're working in, people. It's just books, so don't take it so seriously." He's a little right. It's just writing, but I continue to be inspired by people that put themselves out there through any means of expression. The same modicum of guts it takes to write something and push button publish it are the same as those it takes to sing in public or ask somebody out on a date or dance even if you're afraid you look really stupid. And you usually feel better for having done any of those things once you try it. What's the worst that can happen?

One of the things that has been inspiring me lately, is the Done Manifesto. It got some publicity awhile back when it was first making its rounds, but I came back to it recently. I actually put it over my desk at work and read it every morning. It's as effective with regard to lame work tasks as it is creative endeavors. Here it is, in its entirety:

1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
3. There is no editing stage.
4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
11. Destruction is a variant of done.
12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
13. Done is the engine of more.

Of course, being a manifesto, it's easy to parse the logic of some of these statements, but taken as a whole, goddamn.... I think they're onto something.#10 has been particularly inspiring to me. I am in no means a perfectionist, but I think I have the tendency to let ideas (in any arena of my life) incubate to the point of stagnation. Not because I am afraid of failing, but maybe because it is more comfortable to hang onto something and assume that something external will call you to action with it. I'm trying to get over that.

A good friend from Cincinnati, for whom I have enormous respect, once theorized that there are Makers and Appreciators. Makers make and Appreciators sit back and assess. He made these statements to another friend (in his eyes, an Appreciator)who was arguing passionately against him. At the time, I didn't regard myself as particularly worthy of any kind of assessment. It was clear to me where I fell on that spectrum. The friend with the theory was as close to a working artist as can be found in Cincinnati and instead of taking stock and thinking about how I felt about his idea,I just took it as truth. With all due respect to a great guy, that was a big, fucking mistake. For too long, I thought of myself as an outsider to the creative process and that because anything I created in private was unknown, that it was not worth knowing. We are all Makers and we are all Appreciators. To divide people unnecessarily like that is to say that art or expression is only best handled by those with some sort of expertise, who, with pedantic wisdom, show the rest of us the way. I call bullshit on that.

And thank you guys for sweetly calling bullshit on my attitude. I'm done with it. Done is the engine of more.

1 comment:

  1. I like-like. The list is very cool, much better than "1. Love like there is no tomorrow. 2. Always smile. 3. Spend time with your friends. 4. Talk to an old person. 5. and so forth." I also agree that everyone can create, and being a creator makes us more able to appreciate. Welcome back.