Chamblee54

Inspiration Is For Amateurs

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on November 25, 2016

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It is a T shirt treasure, and a coffee cup classic. “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” This gem is blamed on Allan Steward Konigsberg, better known as Woody Allen. The percentage goes up and down, and life is sometimes substituted for success.

The quote was recently featured at WIST, or Wish I’d Said That. This quote site is known for giving a source, unlike the sites featuring purring platitudes in front of a cultural kitten. The current top offering is “Bach almost persuades me to be a Christian.” Virginia Woolf attributes the baroque comment to Roger Fry who was not afraid of the author.

Getting back to Mr. Allen and success statistics. He accepts full responsibility for the remark. In 1989, notorious conservative columnist William Safire asked Mr. Allen about whether he said life or success. The answer was rather surprising.

“The quote you refer to is a quote of mine which occurred during an interview while we were discussing advice to young writers, and more specifically young playwrights. My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book.”

In other words, you don’t just show up empty handed. If you have an idea, you have to employ the writing formula, ass + chair. You have to turn the tv off, leave the beer in the refrigerator, sit down, and push buttons on the keyboard.

The second part of today’s entertainment is an encore presentation, Inspiration Is For Amateurs. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.

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PG was listening to an interview with a fiction writer. Someone said “Inspiration is for amateurs.” PG has always been more impressed by action than beliefs, and this phrase made sense. This repost is a good excuse to post some more pictures from The Library of Congress.

The phrase is from a painter named Chuck Close. His output is expensive, and widely enjoyed. A spinal injury left him paralyzed, but did not stop him from producing. Here is the full quote:

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

A man once made pottery. It was said that the man only worked with passion, and that if he didn’t feel this passion he did not work. When PG heard that, his thought was that if PG worked that way, he would never finish anything. Most of the sticker pictures take a while to finish. PG always gets tired of the picture before it is through. The idea is to go to the studio, start to do stuff, and before long the enthusiasm will return. Any image requires a certain amount of time with the belly pressed against the work table, or the digital equivalent.

The formula for writing is ass plus chair. A teacher once said to not stare at the blank page, waiting for a bolt of lightening. Start to write something, and the ideas will start to sputter out of the pipeline.

It is not enough to have a bright idea. You have to work the problems out. Sometimes, you spend more time finding out what does not work, than what does. You have to do it wrong before you can do it right. Genius is ninety nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. If any cliches have been overlooked, please add them to the comments.

One thing that is helpful is to be focused. The internet can be a problem. When you should be thinking about your product, it is very tempting to see the latest on Facebook or Twitter.

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