Cate and Maddie slept over for a Grandy over nighter, Meghan came down with flu/food poisoning? yesterday and the tree needs to come down today. We are settling back into a somewhat slower paced routine. Which means my ipad came out of its month long retirement and is getting some needed use. ld loaded this http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Habit-Learn-Use-Life/dp/0743235274/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1 onto it. Some marked passages that resonate:
Nobody worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose. That's the missing element in the popular portrait of Mozart. Certainly, he had a gift that set him apart from others. He was the most complete musician imaginable, one who wrote for all instruments in all combinations, and no one has written greater music for the human voice. Still, few people, even those hugely gifted, are capable of the application and focus that Mozart displayed throughout his short life.
I don't mean to get too caught up in observational focal length. It's one facet of many that makes up an artist's creative identity. Yet once you see it, you begin to notice how it defines all the artists you admire. The sweeping themes of Mahler's symphonies are the work of a composer with a wide vision. He sees grand architecture from a distance. Contrast that with a miniaturist like Satie, whose delicate compositions reveal a man in love with detail. (It's only the giants like Bach, Cézanne, and Shakespeare who could work in many focal lengths.)
Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we're experiencing now with what we have experienced before. It's not only how we express what we remember, it's how we interpret -- for ourselves and others.
If you're like me, reading is your first line of defense against an empty head. It's how you learned as a child. It's how you absorb difficult information. It's how you keep your mind disciplined. If you monitor your reading assiduously, it's even how you grade your brain's conditioning; like an athlete in training, the more you read, the more mentally fit you feel. It doesn't matter if it's a book, magazine, newspaper, billboard, instruction manual, or cereal box -- reading generates ideas, because you're literally filling your head with ideas and letting your imagination filter them for something useful. If I stopped reading, I'd stop thinking. It's that simple.
Confidence is a trait that has to be learned honestly and refreshed constantly; you have to work as hard to protect your skills as you did to develop them. This means vigilant practice and excellent practice habits. You've heard the phrase "Practice makes perfect"? Not true. Perfect practice makes perfect. The one thing that creative souls around the world have in common is that they have to practice to maintain their skills. Art is a vast democracy of habit.