Because I haven’t felt up to blogging a whole lot lately I’ve decided to borrow some things I’ve learned from the corporate world and outsource the work. If you have a blog all you have to do is ask nicely with that socially awkward blogger’s smile and you can get people who are more talented and smarter than you to do the work for you! So with that said…here’s my handsome fiance, Ryan C. Thomas.
Hi all, this is my first ever guest blog. I was asked by my lovely wife-to-be to talk to you all about
anything I want. That’s a big challenge. I kind of want to talk about clean socks, or why cats refuse to
walk with their tails down, or even what this thing is in my teeth, but I guess since this is an artist’s blog,
I’ll touch on my methods of productivity.
I’m a full time novelist and musician. Both of those form the whole of my income. I’m actually on tour
right now, sitting in a casino hotel in Green Bay Wisconsin writing this, far from my home and my better
half in San Diego. I’ve been gigging every night for weeks, and working on my newest book in the tour
bus when I have time—you know, in-between the fart contests, ‘80s movies, stops for Jack N The Box
and dirty sock competitions (aren’t boy bands fun). Anyway, Three years ago I quit my day job to pursue
all this happiness. Because working hard to make someone else money finally got to me. I sat my ass
down and wrote a book and got it published with a small independent publisher. It’s still going strong—
just last week a German publisher decided to pick up the translation rights to it. I also had to learn the
upright bass for the band and had about a month to not only learn 200 songs, but learn how to play the
Hang on. Ah. Got it. It’s rosemary chicken. That thing in my teeth. Anyway…
Where was I? Oh yeah. Productivity. Getting’ stuff a-done, as they say in my head.
So yeah, I do all that for a living. But it wasn’t easy, and it’s still not easy. I tend to hear a lot from
both aspiring writers and musicians, “How do you find the time? How do you find the motivation?”
The answer is it doesn’t exist. Motivation and time are luxuries, they don’t really apply to creative
people who are successful. Success and productivity in the arts comes from knowing you’re working
for yourself, and that if you don’t work, you don’t get to eat or pay rent or buy air fresheners for the
tour bus. It comes from plowing through the doldrums and blocks that are more prevalent than the
inspirational periods. It comes from forcing yourself to work.
Here’s what I do. I wake up and say, “It’s noon. It’s too early. I’m going back to bed.” Then an hour later
I wake up and say, “I need to write two chapters today because my Publisher is going to rip me a new *!
@#$ if I don’t get it done. So I open the computer and stare at the screen, and put on the worst TV show
I can think of, like Tyra Banks or Judge Joe Brown or Dora the Explorer, and I just absolutely force myself
to tap the keys. I mean I literally have to, like, bend my body over so my hands sort of flop like flippers
against the laptop. And trust me, what comes out is not good. It’s complete crap. It’s barely even crap.
It’s gibberish, non-nonsensical, boring, uninspired, and so bad I want to stick my head in the freezer and
lick the sides until I can’t get out. But that’s where productivity comes from, because when I look at it
tomorrow, I’ll know I’m not starting with nothing. There’s a ball of clay in place, and I can shape it. And
maybe that next day the clay is a wobbly ashtray, but the day after that it becomes a bowl, then a flower
pot, then a vase I can use to give my fiancée flowers in. At this point my publisher yells at me for sending
him pottery instead of a book. Jeez, what a grouch.
This same process rings true for my music. I have to learn new ways of performing all the time. As a
guitarist and bassist, I’ve got a hundred different styles to incorporate into what we play. Slide guitar,
finger picking, minor scales, pentatonic scales, diatonic sales, each in 8 positions up the neck, triple slaps, jazz modes. It’s exhausting. And I hate doing it. But once I put on Tyra I know that all I’ve got to do is put my finger on the frets and start practicing and the rest will come.
It’s like going to the DMV sometimes. I just hate it. But it’s gotta be done. And of course I suck at these scales when I start, but over time I shape them into something useful, like a fishbowl or a towel rack. Are these mixed metaphors getting through to anyone? Hello?
Just kidding. So anyway, that’s my point. You’re never going to find the proper inspiration you want or
need to be productive every day. At least I don’t. Maybe you do. But maybe you’re made of spaghetti.
How do I know. Me, I’ve just got to force myself to do it. And if you’re like me, once you get used to
that, it becomes routine, you get used to the apathy of not wanting to work but actually working, and
you can pump out art at an alarming rate. Sure, you may hate most of it, but always pride yourself
on the fact you finished it. And it’s yours. And when people say, “where do you find the time and
motivation?” Just hold up a black leather journal you’ve painted a pentagram on (you can find these at
crafts stores) and make your voice real deep and say…”Demons.”
Thanks for stopping by to tell your story, my little jalapeno popper. I appreciate you keeping my readers busy while I sit on my ass eating crumb donuts and watching the title sequence of Monster Squad because I’m too lazy to get up and press play (and also too lazy to find the batteries that fell out of the remote that would accomplish the same task). XO!