Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

Being Perfect vs. Being True to Yourself

Author and journalist Anna Quindlen was on the Today Show this morning. Apparently, some years ago she gave a commencement speech at a college graduation ceremony that caused such a buzz, Random House just put it out as a short book called Being Perfect.

Her original speech is available online here, among other sites. For a taste of what Quindlen said, here are some excerpts:

" ... nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.

"This is more difficult, because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Set aside what your friends expect, what your parents demand, what your acquaintances require. Set aside the messages this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain and its disapproval, about how you should behave ...

"This is the hard work of your life in the world, to make it all up as you go along, to acknowledge the introvert, the clown, the artist, the reserved, the distraught, the goofball, the thinker. You will have to bend all your will not to march to the music that all of those great 'theys' out there pipe on their flutes.

"They want you to go to professional school, to wear khakis, to pierce your navel, to bare your soul. These are the fashionable ways. The music is tinny, if you listen close enough. Look inside. That way lies dancing to the melodies spun out by your own heart. This is a symphony. All the rest are jingles."

It's pretty profound stuff. Read the entire speech and apply her wisdom to your own life and creative career.

New Artist Empowerment Podcast

I'm loving the direction that new technology is taking us. Since podcasting is all the rage these days, I just started a new Artist Empowerment Radio Podcast page. There you can subscribe to the podcast feed, or simply stream or download the MP3 files of each show as you would with any other audio file online.

This podcast is an extension of the Artist Empowerment Radio show I started last year at Live365, filled with my spoken word tips and inspiring ideas. In fact, the first podcast show contains segments from the other one. The biggest difference is that you can download the shorter podcast versions, whereas the longer Live365 show is streaming only.

In addition, note that in the right-hand column of this page (under Feed Me) you can now subscribe to this blog using RSS or Atom, or add the feed to your My Yahoo, Bloglines, NewsGator or My MSN reader.


Free E-zine Audio Class from the Queen

Promoting yourself online seems to be getting more dizzying all the time. Blogs are all the rage, and podcasting is growing faster than a plant in Little Shop of Horrors. You should be considering those options. But don't overlook something "old hat," like publishing your own free fan e-zine, just because it isn't fresh and sexy. E-mail should definitely be one strong component of your Internet promo arsenal.

If you've been hesitant to start your own e-mail list for customers, set aside a little time right now and listen to this 45-minute audio class from Alexandria K. Brown. She's known as the "E-zine Queen." Not only does she have a nice-looking photo of herself on her site, but she has an equally appealing voice that takes you through the basics of publishing your own promotional e-mail newsletter.

All you have to do is sign up for her free e-zine to gain access to this audio program, which you can stream or download. I've listened to it and thought it was wonderful. I wish it had been available years ago when I first dipped my toes into the e-zine world.

Developing Your Creative Self

The text on Anne Johnson's Exploring Women's Creativity web page reads, "Fostering creativity is a process of joy and discovery. But this doesn't promise that there will be no barriers, no frustrations, and no failures. Instead, creativity will reach into your deepest self; it will continually press and challenge you."

Johnson offers a nice collection of articles on developing your creative self. Here's an excerpt from Building Blocks to Creativity:

"As researchers study the nature of creativity ... they have found evidence that creativity is very much grounded in the individual's knowledge and how she combines her knowledge of dissimilar concepts to create new perspectives. Creativity may seem to appear by magic but in truth it comes from a deep well of information. In fact often the real challenge is to sort out the irrelevant material from the usable. Yet one must still be open to ideas that seem irrelevant and yet may be just the piece needed for the desired result."

From Taking Baby Steps:

"Even though we may not be aware of it, blockages are often created by uncertainty about our ability to do the project up to the standard we have set for ourselves. Sometimes we are concerned there will be criticism by friends or family. Or it could be we need to sell our writing or art and are trying to guess what the editor or consumer will buy. But usually the fear is more internalized and often not even rational. Some of us become such perfectionists there is nothing we can create that we feel is good enough."

And from Living Your Creative Dreams:

"Though we may have sorted out our goals and found ways to work toward them, without an understanding of the creative process we might find our way thwarted. We tend to want to make things happen by sheer will but the creative process is more complex than that. Typically we start with a firm focus and began to work intensely at our projects. This is an important aspect of creativity but cannot sustain itself without some 'moodling' or unfocused time to dream and simply let inspiration in."

Read the entire collection of articles for more in-depth inspiration.