Who did I just quote? The bible? Marcus Aurelius? Ambrose Bierce? Shakespeare? All of the above?
It came from somewhere, because I know I didn’t make it up. Nothing I say, or have ever said, is something that just pops randomly out of my head unless it’s been popped in there by someone or something in the first place. We all gather up hoards of information that we try to sort out for ourselves so that we can then express and share it with others. We believe we are being witty and creative. But it’s really only information/idea scrambling and spewing. I didn’t make that up either, but I did try to put it into my own words. Which of course are not my own words at all, because I learned those words from somewhere and merely arranged them a certain way in the interests of making a point.
And my point is, ALL OF THAT was stolen from this little book.
One piece of advice Austin Kleon gives is to forget writing what you know, and to write the book you want to read.
How incredibly simple that sounds! (I wonder if he made it up or stole it from somewhere?) Not that it matters. I’m suddenly convinced that it’s exactly what all great writers do.
All great artists paint the picture they want to look at. Musicians compose the music they want to hear. Movie people make the film they want to be a box office success and bring in the most ridiculous amount of money imaginable. Well, you get the idea. There’s all kinds of art.
This book is chock full of advice on how to remix and reimagine and discover yourself in the process. He says we should risk being boring in the everyday world so that we have the space to be wild and daring in our imaginations and our work. I’ve got the boring part down! Wild and daring will take more effort.
Here’s a stolen quote to get you interested in reading this very readable book:
Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. -Jim Jarmusch
I suppose I could call this double theft – from Jim Jarmusch and from Austin Kleon. So would that make me a master thief? I’m certainly working on it.