So on, like… Saturday? I said something like “GUYS, GUYS, GUYS. GUESS WHAT? Well, I’d tell you, but I got distracted by ponies and it’s time for bed now. I’ll tell you tomorrow, bye.” (Okay, it was exactly on Saturday and that’s exactly what I said. I just looked it up. See how thorough I am? That’s so nice of me.) To be honest (because I’d lie to you otherwise), I was planning on writing up a gigantic post on a eureka moment I had in the shower. (Oh, man, remember “Showertime Speculation”? It’s a category that’s still on this blog. I don’t even remember what I used it for. I should really go back through my site and covertly purge everything that could incriminate me. No, I’m joking. I’d never do that. I should mention that sometime later, too. ANYWAY, TO THE POINT.)
Wow, what an opening. Alright, so: I was in the shower, which is where I do most of my heavy thinking. You should remember that I’ve been talking about trying to decide how to divide my time between creative pursuits. I consider there to be three main categories of art: Writing, drawing, and music. (And all the sub-categories those contain: Short stories, novels, pencil sketches, digital art, remixing, composing, ya’know, stuff like that.) I’ve read many articles about writing that practically demands that if you want to write, you must CONSTANTLY READ and CONSTANTLY WRITE. It doesn’t have to be good. You just have to do it. All the time. (To put numbers to it, most input I’ve read has said you should write for at least an hour or 1,000 words every day, good material, bad material, rain, shine, sickness, health, the works.) Applying that idea of an hour each day, I could attempt to focus on all three at once. But there’s that good ol’ saying “jack of all trades, master of none” and my instinct tells me that I could only be really decent at two of three things, with the third perhaps being more of an amateur hobby than a focused skill. FOLLOW ME?
In other words, I imagine I could either do “writing and drawing” or “writing and music” or “drawing and music” or “writing and music.” Not all three. But how on earth do I pick which ones I want to do, huh? I’m a reader. I will read articles before I watch articles. I HATE WATCHING VIDEOS. This seems to be a trend. For instance, Google’s documentation has increasingly trended toward someone speaking to me over a video while showing me what to do. Or Wall Street Journal advertising a new article on Twitter and it being a long video clip. NO, NO, NO. I want to read. It’s faster. I’m good at it. It’s what I should do to be good at writing and I instinctively analyze everything I read for grammatical correctness. IT’S WHAT I DO AS A WRITER. That said, it’s pretty clear in my mind that I shouldn’t abandon writing under any circumstances.
TIME TO PAT MYSELF ON THE BACK: I believe my most refined natural talent is writing. I loathed English and writing in grade school, but somewhere along the line I started to ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. My college papers have NEVER been less than a B. I’ve ALWAYS only written them in one draft. I’ve always been given the standard “take your paper to the campus writing department to learn things” and I never did until it was a requirement for my senior project. (When I went, the two of us sat there awkwardly as we went over the standard walkthrough and I had already done everything properly and they were trying to find something to do to prove they did something. It was kind of stupid that we had to waste our time like that.) My point being: I rock at writing. And if anyone tells me that first draft publishing is a bad idea, I will point you to one of my two favorite authors C.S. Lewis, who pretty much waited until he dumped his idea on paper and was done in one draft. J.R.R. Tolkien obsessed over editing to make everything perfect (which is why I find the changes to the Lord of the Rings movies to be so obscene), but C.S. Lewis was like: “Nah, it’s good.” First draft publishing is possible. There should never be a rule to how things work, and this is one of them. It might be a bad idea, but I’ve never done multiple drafts and I’ve never had a problem with it.
But I have to admit that I don’t read/write quite as much as I look at stuff on deviantArt or listen to my music. I am literally (and I mean “literally” literally) listening to music whenever it’s possible for me to listen to music. IN FACT, right now, I’m infinite-looping a particular pony song I’ve fallen for in the last couple of days. When I’m at the computer, IT’S MUSIC. When I have my iPhone while I work, IT’S MUSIC. I’ve got watch lists on deviantArt that push literally hundreds (and I mean “literally” literally) of pieces of art to my message pages for me to look at every night. I’m looking at pretty pictures and listening to pretty music FAR, FAR, FAR more than I read or write. That’s not to say I don’t like reading/writing at all, of course. I just do the other things waaay more.
Which gave rise to the whole problem. I may be a natural at writing, but I spend so much time looking at art and listening to music that I am actually fairly decent at recognizing what’s wrong with various things I look at and listen to. I can even visualize possible scenes for drawing and I can peck around a piano in a pinch. (In fact, I’ve been informed on a few occasions that I have “perfect pitch” when it comes to listening to music, which is apparently a great asset to have. In a nutshell, it means I can tell when something is played out of its original key, even though all music can be mathematically transposed to any other key and it shouldn’t technically matter. I’m able to point out “no, that’s not the right key” when most people are “I can’t tell as long as the notes are right for whatever key it’s in.” It’s kind of interesting. PERHAPS I HAVE A NATURAL ABILITY FOR MUSIC, TOO.) As for drawing, I’ve probably drawn and sketched over the course of my life more than I’ve read, written, or paid attention to music. I have notebooks full of stupid little scribbles. I stopped doing those a long time ago, but I’ve done it in the past, for sure.
(I am now at 1,000 words, which is how much I should be writing daily, hah.) Okay, so that’s the backstory and the source of my conundrum: I enjoy ALL THESE THINGS. How do I pick which to focus on? Well, here is where my showertime eureka moment comes in. It’s like trifecta of eureka. It’s like my iron triangle (LOOK, AN ECONOMICS TERM) of artistic talent. I SHALL EXPLAIN!
I create worlds in my mind all the time. At the moment, I can say I have about 5 novel-ready worlds in my brain. That might sound nuts, but it’s like “eh, whatever” to me. I’m all the time building them and tweaking them and one day in the future, I’ll write a hundred books all at once (in one draft) and one of them will become New York Times Bestseller and I’ll be rich. (Hah.) My point being: I’m a world-builder. I find reality absolutely boring. I’m a fantasy guy. (I can do science fiction, but even that feels a little too rooted in reality to be any fun.) I have to come up with a whole universe before it’s any fun for me. I’m creating a world and visualizing it to describe on the paper.
AND THAT’S WHEN IT HIT ME. I’m visualizing worlds with words. Well, duh. Words describing a picture in your mind’s eye. BUT DO YOU GET IT? Will it take you as long as I did to make the connection? I’M MAKING A PICTURE WITH WORDS. Now it seems entirely obvious that if I don’t want to give up my talent for writing and drawing pictures with words that my secondary artistic focus should be on ACTUALLY DRAWING PICTURES. Come on, brain. How did you not figure that out before now? I guess it took a super late night shower to get those synapses going.
Okay, so: I create worlds in my head. I describe those worlds with words. I should be able to describe those worlds with images. Music describes the worlds with emotion, arguably, but in my mind, visualizing the look is what I need to make sense of things. An emotional response is rather the icing on the cake, whereas the description is the important bits. (Which is why I SO LOVE LORD OF THE RINGS. The descriptions are SO AWESOME.) Plus, I figure, if you’re good enough, you can convey plenty of emotion through an image, anyway, and so someone else could come along, see your image, and create the appropriate musical interpretation. (Hey, it’s how it has to work when you make movies.) I could always go hobby-mode with music and hack together a chilling synth piece for a winter scene, for example, with the piano keyboard and GarageBand if I really wanted to. I could probably do that.
But then another thing hit me. (Besides being at 1,600 words now and having hit my daily count for a NaNoWriMo novel.) I’ve never been an auditory learner. Some people can have multiple ways of processing information, such as both touch and sound, but I have absolutely, flat out, always been a visual learner. Don’t tell me. Show me. Then I’ll replicate what you did and I’ll learn. If you tell me, I have to visualize it. If you’re too lazy to show me (yes, I went there) and instead try to explain it and you explain it poorly and it doesn’t match reality, I’ll get angry. JUST SHOW ME. If you’re so good at it, it’ll take you 3 seconds to do it so I can copy you instead of taking the 30 seconds to tell me wrong and confuse me because you can’t convey reality with words. UGH. But I abstain. And that’s why I’m so amazing with computers. It’s absolutely 100% a visual, interactive experience. It’s why I’m so good with reading and writing. It’s 100% visual. SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING?
By default, anything non-visual is sub-optimal for me to process. That doesn’t mean I can’t process verbal instructions, of course. It just means visualization is my primary means of interacting and processing information. That means, by default, an artistic pursuit in something non-visual probably wouldn’t be as natural to me as an artistic pursuit in something visual. MEANING: I believe my ability to play music will always be comparatively less skillful than if I put the same amount of effort into my ability to write or draw, simply because how I play music is entirely auditory. (Remember how I have perfect pitch? I simply don’t learn music by sheet music. I hear it and then I replicate it in perfect pitch. I’ll do that and then memorize the keys. I’m sure I could learn to read sheet music and make it somewhat visual, but using sheet music has NEVER felt natural to me and it distracts me.)
So, there you go. My gigantic thought process from a shower last weekend. Afterwards, I also thought of future ramifications. Confession: I plan ahead. A lot. Really far in advance. To the point that it’s not worth it because it’s so far in the future, but it’s fun to do it. I always think things like: “If I do this, what will my life be like if people start to recognize me for it?” I dream of writing a book that people will recognize me for. I don’t want to be super-famous; I just want people to go: “Oh, you wrote that? I read that! It was awesome!” But I also think as far ahead as: “Well, what if I DO get famous and my publisher wants me to go book-signing or something?” I’d be absolutely terrified. I don’t want to do that. I’m not a public person. I, in fact, so much prefer to be alone that I honestly don’t think I’d be worthy material to marry. (I don’t imagine it’d work out very well to tell your wife that you’ve had enough human contact for a week and that you’re going to isolate yourself.)
What does that have to do with anything? Well, I was watching events from a convention this weekend and one of the events was a musician show. It never occurred to me that (if I played the piano) to show my talent in public, I would have to play music… In front of people. I think that would absolutely drive me crazy. I’m sure I’d learn to handle it, but my natural instinct is to totally not want the physical, face-to-face, everyone-looking-at-me interaction with people. I hate public speaking. I hate interviews. Not for lack of preparedness or anything like that. It’s the simple fact that I really don’t like being the primary focus of attention. I’ve gotten better about it, and doing my short-lived (though hopefully returning) YouTube gaming channel really helped with the “just do what you need to do in public and really, nobody gives a care” idea.
But if I was a writer or artist, my “showing off” to the public would be… What? I could totally write a little short story in front of someone. (Though, honestly, who on Earth would want to watch that? Except me. IT’S JUST AN EXAMPLE, OKAY?) I mean, with the Internet age, I already text-chat live with people. It’s not weird for me at all. What would I do if I drew? (Hurr, a rhyme.) I could totally see myself drawing on an Internet livestream like some people do. I don’t know. It just feels like writing and drawing is an artistic ability that doesn’t expect you TO BE ON A STAGE IN FRONT OF PEOPLE, and that’s something I wouldn’t want to do with music. Sure, I could just post music tracks on SoundCloud or YouTube, but, I don’t know. I was visualizing it in the context of a convention-style setting. If I went and took art to a convention, for example, it’d already be done and I’d just be: “Look, I did this. Isn’t it neat?” And if I played music, it’d have to be: “Oh, you want to hear what I’ve done? LET ME GET OUT MY PIANO SO I CAN PLAY LIVE.” Yeah, no. Maybe that’s a vain way of looking at things, but I’m not actually looking at it from the perspective of showing off like that. It’s the idea of “if I get good enough and people are aware of me online, they’d want to see stuff in person like I would if I ever met someone in real life who’s art I like.” GET IT?
What this also leads to is the very idea of showing off the stuff I make. I know I’ve had people tell me “you should do art for yourself, not others.” And I totally agree with that. However, I also believe that it can’t really be “art” unless YOU DO ACTUALLY SHOW IT OFF so someone else can come along and go “hey, that’s really good.” Personally, I think too many people are too broad with their idea of what art is and we get people turning urinals upside down, putting their name to it, and calling it art. (Sound like a joke? It’s not a joke: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_(Duchamp)) That aside, the fact of the matter remains that if I pursue anything like this, I would eventually want to go: “HEY, LOOK WHAT I DID.” Not that I need someone’s approval for it. Not at all. I just find the primary “fun-ness” of creative ability to be in showing it to people who will look. (Family doesn’t count. Your mom is always going to think what you did is spectacularly amazing.) But that rather ties in with my projections on what it’d be like if I did writing or drawing or music. I would absolutely want to show it off and, judging by how I like to follow favorite artists on deviantArt, people would eventually want to see me do something for them. (I DO ACTUALLY WANT TO BE MINIMALLY WELL-KNOWN FOR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, OKAY? STOP JUDGING ME.)
And finally, the idea of portability of tools needed to do any of these things. What is the absolute minimum that you NEED to write? A pencil and paper. What is the absolute minimum that you NEED to draw? A pencil and paper. What is the absolute minimum that you NEED to play piano? A PIANO. I like mobility. iPads. iPhones. Laptops. If I played piano, I have a music keyboard and a laptop. That’s what I’d use. It’s smaller than a real piano, of course, but it’s still 88 keys and HUGE. It’s not that big of a deal, but, say, if I get bored somewhere, I’m not going to be able to whip out a piano and start writing music. I TOTALLY CAN do that with writing and drawing. Bored? “PAPER. PENCIL. GO.” Or, in case of writing, “MACBOOK. SCRIVENER. GO.” I mean, I just like the idea of being able to do something on the go like that. My ability to remember sudden inspiration (Iike most people) is rather hit and miss and I don’t expect I’d be able to hold the brilliant idea for music until I got home to record it on the computer. I don’t know, maybe that’s a non-issue, since I’m rarely away from home and the computer, but it’s still something I considered. (But also why it’s listed last.)
Okay, I have almost honestly reached two days worth of NaNoWriMo writing at 3,000 words. OBVIOUSLY, this is something I’ve been stewing over since Saturday. But unless someone can point out some hugely glaring logical fallacy in my reasoning, I think I’ve finally convinced myself beyond the shadow of a doubt that I should focus on visual artistic talents and relegate music to hobbyist playing around, sort of a “yeah, I can play a piano worth listening to, but I don’t really focus on it to play professionally.” I DO NOT WANT TO COMPLETELY IGNORE PIANO. This is absolutely vital. I still totally want to do enough with it to learn how to play the simple songs I like and be able to use a sequencer to make music if I absolutely have to. But I don’t think I want to be able to play something complex like professionals can do, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
That said, it is my official decision to focus primarily on writing and drawing to the point that I will practice each one an hour every day and try to post something regularly somewhere online, because that’s what I think is the most fun about it. I know deviantArt has a scraps category, so I can dump scribbles in there to keep a record of improvement over the months, but I haven’t quite figured out if I should use deviantArt for writing, too, or to use Tumblr or something. (Or even to use Tumblr for scribble art. Perhaps I’ll put art on Tumblr once I get decent at it. Who knows?)
(Now, what can I say to make it 3,334 words to make it truly like two days of NaNoWriMo? Uhm. I need nine more words? Okay. Rainbow Dash is best pony. And Twilight Sparkle.)