May 31

The Prometheus Project Podcast, Ep 31, is available!

Can cooking be considered an art form or is it just another chore we have to do to survive? Join me as I examine the creative aspects of cooking.

The podcast is available at iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify, and PodBean. Or if you prefer, I also have a YouTube channel.

Or you can simply listen to it here!

I also love to receive feedback. Please be sure to leave a review on whatever platform you listen or download from, reach me through the contact form on my website, or catch me on social media.

RB

May 29

Self-Marketing

I’m not someone who is comfortable bragging about themselves. I think it’s due to being an introvert at heart. I can get up in front of a crowded room to speak, I can mix and mingle at parties, and I can be active on social media. But at the end of the day, I’m far more comfortable within the confines of my house with my dogs, my partner, and a glass of wine.

Unfortunately, being an independent writer means I have to don my extrovert costume and try to draw attention to my creative output. It’s one of those things that isn’t terrible to deal with. Interacting with readers and other writers can be inspiring and motivating. But at the same time, I do find it awkward and uncomfortable.

I’m sure other creative types feel the same way. Artists tend to be introverts. We work in solitude, alone, just us and our medium – pen and paper, paint and canvas, camera and film – but at the same time we also have a need for our work to be seen. I’m not sure if it that’s due to self-esteem or just a need to be noticed.

For me, I have this need to express myself, my ideas. And yes, I feel a sense of satisfaction when someone – especially a stranger – reads or hears or sees something I’ve created and enjoys it. To have someone tell me they read one of my stories and liked it is just about the best feeling in the world. I’m not expecting to change the world. All I want to do is give someone an escape, a distraction, and a little entertainment.

But to do so, I have to get noticed. That’s the tough part. I’m not comfortable standing on a chair in the middle of a crowded room and yelling “Look at me!”. Ugh. I’d much rather pass out copies of a story and quietly walk away. However, it doesn’t work that way. People like to see a face, a name, to interact.

In a way, I guess I’m lucky because I have access to things that allow me to market myself. Twenty to twenty-five years ago there wasn’t much in the way of self-marketing. E-books weren’t much of a thing yet. Social media was relegated to bulletin boards and message boards. There wasn’t a Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. I still submitted my short stories through the U.S. Postal Service. It was a different time.

Now I have several social media accounts I manage where I post updates about myself and my creative projects. I interact with people from around the world, exchanging ideas and suggestions, buying copies of their books to support them, and hoping they’ll return the favor.

Self-marketing is an interesting game. On the one hand it’s awkward and time consuming, but on the other hand it has its perks. I get to talk about my creative process, share my output, and get feedback from complete strangers on the other side of the planet. That’s amazing.

I guess we all have to step outside our comfort zones every now and then. Sure, it can be difficult, but it does have rewards. That’s what I need to focus on and be grateful that I get to meet and interact with other artists. I’m lucky to have that opportunity.

RB

May 27

Creativity Bullies

I don’t understand why some people have to act high and mighty when it comes to creativity. They appoint themselves as gatekeepers, belittling and turning away anyone who doesn’t conform to what they think is the right way to do things. “You need to write your story this way” or “No one is going to read that if you write it” or “Why don’t you do something more productive”. Those are just a few of the less-obnoxious comments I’ve seen.

I feel like I have to act like a counter-balance to these bullies. Why? Because I’ve been on the receiving end of creativity bullying. Some of it came from family, some from people I thought were friends, and some from complete strangers. No one is really immune to it. Bullies are everywhere, and it seems even more so lately.

To me, there is no right way or wrong way when it comes to creativity. If I visualize or hear something in my head, I want to bring it into being. I don’t care if people might think it’s silly or stupid or might be offended by it. Those are their issues, not mine. I’m going to create what I want to create.

Full disclosure here: I haven’t always had this mindset. In fact, I was just the opposite. I let those bullies get into my head and dictate what I should and shouldn’t do when it came to writing. It got to the point where I was embarrassed to show anyone anything I’d written or drawn. I worked in silence like a creative hermit. In fact, I was hesitant to even tell people that I was a writer because they might want to see what I’d written, then tell me everything I did wrong.

It took a long time for me to realize that these fools were hindering my creativity. I worked long and hard to get over my neurosis about showing my work to others. I had to get also get over the feeling that I had to write to please others. That was a big one to overcome. I had all these ideas for stories, ones that I thought were weird and wonderful, but I didn’t write them because of things some people said. Basically, “don’t be so weird” and “why don’t you write something people will actually read” and “you can’t show that to people, they’ll think there’s something wrong with you.”

Yeah, and they were sort of correct on that last one. There was something wrong with me. I was letting bullies get the best of me. Once I realized that I didn’t have to listen to the naysayers, that I didn’t have to care what other people thought, I discovered real creative freedom.

At this point in my artistic life, I am free to explore whatever interests me. I write whatever crazy stories that come to mind, I play around with making videos, I cook, I podcast, I blog, I play musical instruments, I write poetry and lyrics for imaginary songs. Anything I want to do, I do. Do I want to make a skull out of the pieces of old compact discs? Do I want to write a story about sex dolls becoming sentient? Do I want to try my hand at making homemade insect sushi? I can do all these things if I want to. Although I’m having second thoughts on the insect sushi.

And because I’ve made this change in my creative life, I want to pass it along to other artists and creators. I don’t want anyone to feel the way I did about my creative endeavors. I want creative people to be creative, so be comfortable with themselves as artists, to be empowered to do whatever creative project they can think of.

I’ll continue to push back against the gatekeepers of all things creative. Like cockroaches, they belong in the dark corners. The rest of us belong in the light, thinking, creating, making magic.

The world needs that much more than it needs bullies.

RB

May 26

Returning to Old Favorites

I have this weird habit – at least, I think it’s weird – in that I have an urge to reread books. Specifically, certain books that had an impact on my life, influenced me in some way, or were just so amazingly written that I can’t get enough.

A few titles come to mind – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, and Leaves of Grass (which is poetry, but still a book I reread).

What I often run into is that when someone finds out that I reread books, some more than a dozen times, they inevitably ask, “Why?”

I find that curious. Like one of those moments when a dog hears a weird noise and the ears go up and the head cocks to the side. I hope I’m not that obvious. Of course I reread good books.

I learned the easiest way to make people understand, and stop asking that question, is to respond by asking them why they watch reruns on TV, or rewatch movies. I know there are dozens and dozens of movies that I’ve watched more than once. Hell, I saw the original Star Wars, in the theater, thirteen times on its first run. Yes, you read that correctly. Of course, I was ten or eleven years old at the time. And it was summer break.

It bothers me that people find it weird to reread a book (“But you already KNOW the story.”) but not to rewatch a Seinfeld episode for the fiftieth time, or rewatch The Matrix or a Star Wars film ten or twenty times. What’s the difference between them and a good book?

Nothing, really, although watching a movie or a show on streaming is more passive than reading. A movie will give you all the visual clues and the actors act it all out. Whereas with a novel, the reader has to use their imagination, make up their own visuals.

Personally, I love to reread a good book. There’s a certain comfort to it, and much like a good film, it bears a return because there can be things that were missed the first time.

To me, reading is far more entertaining that anything I can watch on a television or movie screen. I think it’s more rewarding. And rereading a good book is like meeting up with an old friend. Don’t you agree?

RB

May 22

The Seat of my Pants

I’m not a person who like to do much planning when it comes to creative projects. I’m what some writers like to call a “pantser”, meaning, I work by the seat of my pants. Oddly enough, I like to have well-thought plans for other aspects of my life – just a bit of OCD happening here – but when it comes to writing or cooking or music, prefer to create on the fly.

I know this will make some people twitchy and I understand that. Some writers, for example, prefer to outline their stories, create character sketches, plot the story arcs. I think that’s great. More power to them. I understand how having the structure in place beforehand can help them string the story together. Makes sense. 

But planning ahead makes it harder for me to tell a story. If everything is mapped out ahead of time, then I feel stifled. It’s like the difference between painting on a blank canvas or using a paint-by-numbers kit. One option allows me to flex my creative muscles, to explore and experiment, and if something changes, I can go off in another direction without hesitation. The other option makes me feel locked in, that I have to follow the designated path without deviation. 

A great example is a short story I’ve been trying to write for the past six weeks. It’s based on an actual event, but with a creative twist. In other words, I’m using the basic premise but changing the players and some of the facts. I’ve had the story in my head for a few years now and I finally decided to write it so I can include it in an upcoming short story collection I plan to publish. 

Initially, I had some trouble getting started. I wasn’t sure how to kick things off, which is usually where I have the most trouble with a story. If the foundation isn’t laid correctly, the entire structure can fall apart. So I thought I’d try working with an outline. I wrote a fairly detailed six-page outline with each paragraph describing what would happen in each section. “Finally,” I thought to myself, “I can get this party started.”

Yeah. Not so much.

I tried writing the opening scene three times, and each time I felt that it turned out like crap. Too bland. Too generic. Too sterile. I was forcing the story to be told, instead of allowing the story to tell itself. Over three thousand words discarded.

A few days ago I tossed the outline aside, sat down at my laptop, and just started winging it. Guess what? It worked. I wrote one thousand words (give or take a handful) in about thirty minutes. Now the story is easier to write because I’m not thinking about it. I’m letting my protagonist and the narrative decide where to go next. 

“Pantsing” is an organic way to write, at least for me. I would never claim that one way is right and another wrong, or that one way is better than another. That’s up to each individual author. I had to try different ways to tell a story before I found what worked best for me. 

When I find myself giving advice to other writers, I always tell them they have to try different things in order to develop their own style. A lack of planning works for me on most of my stories, but there may come a time when I find I need to outline something and I won’t hesitate to try it. I remain open-minded when it comes to creativity. I feel that artists have to be. Otherwise, how can we grow and improve?

Whenever you feel stuck on a creative project, don’t continue to try doing things the same way every time. Step back, reassess your methods, and maybe you’ll find that trying something outside of your usual routine will do the trick. 

That’s the thing about creativity. The rules are made to be broken. 

RB

May 20

An Amazing Gift

I recently received such a thoughtful and amazing gift that I had to share. An artist who listens to one of my podcasts was inspired by the episode I did on poetry. So much so that she asked people on Twitter to submit haiku so she could pick one or two and create an image inspired by the poetry.

I was flattered to find out that she picked my submission:

Salt spray on my face
Ocean breeze tussles my hair
I breathe deep and smile

She then sent me the painting she created.

Me holding a painting

It’s absolutely beautiful, and I have to admit, I was touched by her kindness and generosity. It means a lot to me to know that two people that live thousands of miles away from each other can still connect through art and creativity, can inspire and motivate one another, and can share a smile.

My thanks to Sunny for her gift. Please check out her Tumblr page for more of her artwork. She’s incredibly talented and deserves more recognition.

RB

May 17

The Prometheus Project Podcast, Ep 30, is Available!

You never know when someone may be seeing, reading, or hearing your artistic output for the first time, or maybe the last. Join me as I talk about the importance of making a good first impression with your creativity.

The podcast is available at iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify, and PodBean. Or if you prefer, I also have a YouTube channel.

Or you can simply listen to it here!

 

I also love to receive feedback. Please be sure to leave a review on whatever platform you listen or download from, reach me through the contact form on my website, or catch me on social media.

RB

May 15

Setting the Mood

I’m not sure if other artists do this, but I like to set a mood for writing. What I mean is, I prefer to have a certain type of environment around me when I write certain things. It doesn’t always work out the way I’d like it to, but I try.

For example, when I’m writing something light – a blog post, social media tweets or ‘grams – I like it to be bright and sunny. I generally want my writing for these areas to be light and fun, encouraging, motivational, so bright and sunny helps to get my head in the right place.

Then there’s fiction. I tend to lean to darker stories, obviously, and so I like to write my horror, sci-fi, and speculative stuff at night or early in the morning when the house is quiet and it’s dark and moody. I also like to write somber fiction when it’s raining. A heavy downpour is fantastic, but even a gray drizzle will set the right mood for me.

A few years back my partner and I were able to take annual trips to South Florida and stay at a nice little hotel right on the beach. I’d get up every morning with the sunrise, have a cup of tea or coffee, and write in my journal. It was incredibly motivating to write out my personal thoughts and ideas in that setting. Mornings on the beach can’t be beat.

But the funny thing is, I planned to work on my of my short stories during out week-long vacation, but I couldn’t get anywhere with it. Why? Because the environment was too damn pleasant. Salt air, the sound of the waves, the bright blue sky and warm sun…it’s not conducive to a dark story about fear and blood. Lesson learned.

It wasn’t until I got back home – on a rainy evening – that I felt the right mood to tackle this particular story. And at home is where I finished it during a couple of cold, rainy winter nights.

Like I mentioned above, I can’t always predict or force the environment to be what I’d like it to be when I write. That would be too easy, wouldn’t it? But I make do. I try to take advantage of those rainy days when they occur. I try to squeeze in a few late nights every week. I get up early and greet the dark morning with a warm cup of something and a brain still half in bed. It’s not perfect, it’s not necessarily ideal, but I make it work.

I’m curious if other artists feel the same way. Leave a comment and let me know.

RB