If You’re Not Making Art From Your Gut, Are You Making Art?

June 18, 2012 § 8 Comments

Whenever the question of “What kind of music do you like?” pops up, I never know quite how to answer but I know this much is true: “I don’t care what kind of genre you are in, just play as hard as you can and give it everything you’ve got.”

Like most people, I wouldn’t be able to break down my music tastes into a single genre.  “All kinds” is basically my answer too.  But what a rapper might have in common with a rock band, this is what I’m looking for: Putting your guts into it.  Ripping out your soul and making a song like it’s the last one you’ll ever make.  Not having anything left at the end of the day to give, and waking up the next day ready to start over and do it again.

Truth.  Honesty.  Speaking from the heart.  Divulging yourself to a point beyond vulnerability and going to a place where few people would dare to go.

These are a few attributes of good art to me and it doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a singer, a filmmaker, or a comedian.  People are drawn to honesty more than anything else and that’s what I try to do with everything I make because that’s what people want to hear.  That’s what people want to read.  That’s what people will have emotional reactions to.

Sometimes when I write something I’ll have a gut instinct telling me, “Woah man, are you sure you want to reveal this about yourself to a bunch of strangers?” and that’s almost an automatic signal to me that I’m doing it right.  If I have to question whether or not I should, I know that I have tapped into something that makes me very vulnerable.  I know that I have opened up a wound that could hurt very bad.  But I also know that those deeper places in our mind, body, and soul are the places that both make us unique and also bind us as individuals.  It’s that part of us that we feel unsure about because nobody talks about it but when they do, we know we’re not alone.

My dream job is somewhere out there as a writer.  I have not pigeonholed myself yet into a certain area of writing, but one of those areas is sports journalism.  Over the past year and a half, I have worked very hard at sports blogging and every day it pays off a little bit more.  Just this past weekend I met and interviewed Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll for the first time.  If you remember my vision board post last month, you’ll know that meeting Carroll was on there and now I’ve marked something off of my bucket list.  That’s pretty awesome and it gives me validation in what I’m doing and working towards.

On the other hand, I think most people would find that the path I’m taking there is unorthodox.  That perhaps I’m making improper steps along the way that will never allow me to be a big-market journalist, namely by having this personal blog and by doing things on YouTube that will make me too niche, too weird, or that won’t allow people to take me seriously.  Can a writer talk about his dating life in one place and expect to be taken seriously as a journalist on another?

I believe so.  I believe that the people will allow that truth to speak for itself.

I may never “make it” as a sports journalist but I know one thing: Nobody else is going to set my path for me.  I do have a vision for my future and that vision includes creating something new in that world of writing and not doing what has already been done before.  “A sports journalist can’t do that” is the exact kind of motivation that I need to prove “that” wrong.  I’m going to do it this way and if I don’t make it, I’ll die trying.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m some great writer or that I am the future of sports writing or anything like that.  I’m not going to tell you that I’m right in my assumption that this will work.  I only know what my gut tells me and it’s telling me that this is the right path for me.  I think that it’s right to listen to your gut above all else and to take chances when and where they present themselves.  I’m trying to identify what I see in future trends in this business are or what they could be, and I believe that I can get a head-start on those trends.

I look at someone like Tyler, the Creator and I see a young person in hip hop that is challenging every notion of the proper steps you take in that business and being successful because of his honesty and truth about the business.  I think whether or not you like his music, his message, or how he is going about it, you have to respect that like Sinatra, he’s doing it “his way.”

When I see other blogs, the one thing that I’m looking for is honesty.  Is that person taking chances in their writing and revealing something that makes them vulnerable?  I see a lot of anonymous blogs that do this but very few blogs that reveal all of themselves, knowing that you could just as easily identify this person on Facebook AND know that they suffer from depression.  Or that they’re a virgin.  Or that they cry themselves to sleep every night since their last break-up.  Basically, anything that’s really difficult to share but also realizing that their vulnerability might help somebody else out in a similar situation.

The internet is a glue that connects all of us but how are we using that to our advantage?  We have to find the truth about ourselves and then try to find out how our experiences might help out somebody else, because at one point you may have also been given inner-strength from a stranger on the internet.  Every time you use that honesty, you’re paying it forward.

When I listen to a song, I want to hear it in their voice that it hurts to sing what they’re singing.  Or that it feels amazing.  Or that it’s all that they have to give.  Whatever emotion it is that they’re trying to convey, you can hear it in their voice.

When I watch a movie, I want to see the actor pour into the character with everything they’ve got and draw onto their own emotions and experiences to cry, or laugh, or die.  I want to see the director and writer give us real truth and emotion that you don’t see often enough in film.

When I read something (however rare that is) it’s the same thing.  I ask for no less than what I’ve been saying this whole time: be honest, be faithful to your emotions, be vulnerable.  At least, that’s what I’m looking for.  That’s what I want to be.

Maybe you want to be a writer, a painter, a singer, a banker, a bus driver, an inventor, or a teacher.  There’s a million different jobs, a million careers, a million hobbies, and a million ways to get there.  I think that a good lesson is that no matter what it is you want to be and no matter how you want to get there, that you set a goal, you decide how you’re going to accomplish that goal, and then you give it every single ounce of sweat you’ve got until you reach that goal.

There is no “can’t,” there is only “won’t.”

You can’t get there or you won’t be willing to work at it until you’ve done it?

I consider this post to basically just be a Mission Statement for myself as a writer.  This is what I am hoping to accomplish as a writer, every day.  This is the only way that I want to make it, if I ever do make it.  This is my path.

What is your path?

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§ 8 Responses to If You’re Not Making Art From Your Gut, Are You Making Art?

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