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7 posts tagged Austin Kleon

I have enough trouble being creative while also working a day job— and I’m not published and famous!


“Even after he published, Prufrock and The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot continued to work his day job at a bank.” Great article about why Eliot chose to keep working, even after all his friends basically Kickstartered him and tried to get him to quit. “…nobody wants to think about the poet at the water cooler, or, even worse, pouring over actuarial tables.”

My Amazon cart is getting heavy! Now I get to start adding up the weights of these books to make sure I can still afford to check my luggage!


Jonathan Lethem, The Disappointment Artist: Essays

Really liked this. Like so many artist memoirs, it’s a book about a young artist discovering himself through—surprise!—art. (Is there another story for the young artist? A few, probably…)

Two excerpts I wanted to call out. The first, from “Identifying with Your Parents, or The Return of the King,” is about tracing influence:

I suffered a kind of nerdish fever for authenticity and origins of all kinds, one which led me into some very strange cultural places. The notion of “influence” compelled me, at irrational depts of my being. Any time I heard mention that, say, David Bowie was only really imitating Anthony Newley, I immediately lost interest in David Bowie and went looking for the source, sometimes with the pitiable results that the example suggests. So I was always moving backward through time…

The second, from “”The Beards,” about writing the books you want to read:

When I first began to write fiction, at eighteen, I conceived that I would write the novels that Philip K. Dick hadn’t lived to write—that I would continue his work rather than begin my own. Of course, I now think that Philip K. Dick probably lived to write any novel he was capable of writing, as well as a few he wasn’t, but at the time it seemed to me tragic that dozens more didn’t exist for me to read.

Lethem’s new essay collection, The Ecstasy of Influence, is at the top of my Christmas list.

Wouldn’t it be nice if something could be effortless?


Sketchbook pages from “What It Is” by Lynda Barry


When you’re drawing something or writing something there always comes a point when the image seems to stop and it makes you become unsure about what you’re doing and so you stop too.

When this happens it’s good to have a pad of paper right next to you so you can move your hand over to it and just make any kind of mark in order to keep your hand in motion.  Moving your hand can help the image start up again, even if all you are doing is slowly writing the alphabet or making is a spiral.

This can help you keep what you’ve done intact while you wait through the worry over image starting up again. Sometimes when the image stops, we go back over what we’ve done and we may try to start fixing something that isn’t broken. Keeping your hand in motion may help you stay put until the image begins to flicker back up again.

If you use this pad of paper to keep your hand moving whenever you don’t know what to do next, the marks that accumulate start to become an odd and kind of effortless diary.

I feel compelled to point this out specifically as well. I was sure I posted this in the spring, but since I can’t find it, I’d rather chance double-posting it to be sure. I’ve been doing this for years, but I didn’t know there was a name for it. Nor did I think anyone would ever want to see any of mine. I do really enjoy seeing the ones they highlight here, tho…

Austin Kleon is a huge inspiration for me, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. I know I stick him up here pretty often. His entire blog is fantastically interesting, but this one really grabs me by my love for The Economist.

It’s taken me WAY to long to re-blog this, especially considering how many times I’ve read it.

Behind I may be, but I just can’t go on without expressing just how much I appreciate this. Been reading it everyday…

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