Fuck it

Fuck it

When I was a child, I was certain that my family would die if I thought bad thoughts as I went through doorways. Yes, you read that right. I even had specific and elaborate scenes play out in my head on how they would die, ranging from car crashes to random acts of violence you saw on the news all the time. And the only way I could save them was to reverse the bad thoughts while I went backwards through the offending door. Repeatedly. My days were ARE filled with many such rituals designed to keep bad things from happening to people I love. Whether it be unthinking things, blinking, sniffing, or any other number of things that made me look weird, I had to do them … or else. It’s like the whole “step on a crack break your mother’s back,” on meth. I had no idea what was wrong with me. My affliction didn’t have a name back then. Today, we call it Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is a disorder where you have an obsessive thought which grows increasingly harder to ignore, like an itch you can’t quite scratch. And the only way to find relief is to act in some compulsive manner, a ritual. Rituals can be physical — washing hands, touching objects, walking backwards through doors; or mental — counting, praying, reciting words in your head, and more. Or even a dizzying array of both. Again, those are but just a few, and I’ve done hundreds of odd rituals to ease the obsessive thoughts. For many OCD sufferers, it’s all too easy to get caught...
How Austin Kleon Pulled Me From the Darkness

How Austin Kleon Pulled Me From the Darkness

If you’ve looked inside our book Z 2135, out in paperback today by the way, you may have noticed we’ve dedicated the title to another writer. “To Austin Kleon for his book, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, and the countless storytellers before us.” Austin, in case you’re not familiar with him, found popularity with his Newspaper Blackout collection where he took pages from The New York Times and blacked out all but a few words to create poetry with oftentimes poignant effect. But it was his book Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative that inspired me when I (Dave) needed it most. As I wrote before, we got slammed by some reviewers on Z 2134, who called us everything from plagiarists to Satan’s spawn. People were pissed because we were stupid enough to mash up The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, and 1984. You’d think we made a Fifty Shades of Jesus book or something. (Note to self: million dollar idea!) As a creator (first a cartoonist, and then a writer), I’ve always prided myself on my creativity. Being called a “plagiarist” made my stomach turn. Even though I’d only read the first half or so of The Hunger Games, and we only outright lifted the opening part where everyone scrambles like crazy to get the good shit, I still felt sick in my gut, and defensive, as if I were guilty. That all ideas should be New and Completely Original. Forget that The Hunger Games was slammed for “ripping off” Battle Royale. Forget that our...
The Cure for Writer’s Block

The Cure for Writer’s Block

You are a writer, but do you sometimes find it hard to write? One of my best friends is a chef. You wouldn’t believe how often he has a hard time deciding what’s for dinner. This is normal. Whatever your occupation, you are subject to the same fatigue as anyone. Dentists get tired of looking at teeth, plumbers get tired of pipes and writers, well no matter how much you might love language, sometimes you’re probably going to get a bit tired of slinging words. The amazing thing is, once you crash through that inertia, your brain will be there to delight and surprise you. There is nothing better for a writer trying to smash their writer’s block than to simply start writing. One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever read was simply, Give yourself permission to write a first draft. Your first draft can be terrible and it doesn’t have to make sense. It’s primary function is to get your fingers and brain working together. Once you start writing, magic happens. This is the idea behind the Creative Copy Challenge, our six-week-old site that has been doing gangbusters in the community aspect. We would love to bring some of that creative energy to the Inkwell. We plan on publishing one prompt per week to get our writers writing as well as helping us to know our community a little better. We did this a couple of times last year with interesting results. We don’t intend for this to replace Creative Copy Challenge, but to rather work in a slightly different manner, exercising different creative muscles. Prompts will...
Kanye the Heartless Artist

Kanye the Heartless Artist

Yeah, Kanye got to me. I admit it. The guy’s such a giant tool it’s unbelievable. I’ve already vented about the Taylor Swift, MTV fiasco over at Writer Dad, and asked children to express their thoughts on the topic over at Children Write the Future. Here at the Inkwell I would like to focus on Kanye’s creative merit. About six weeks ago I had an idea for a post that ended up keeping about thirty-two thousand others company in a file marked “ideas for someday.” The thought was to compare the two versions of Kanye’s Heartless. I’m glad the day has given me reason to dig the idea up. I find Kanye’s version rather vapid and lacking any real emotion or genuine soul. It is overproduced to the point of diminished perfection, trying way too hard to rinse the radio ready single of Kanye’s awkward style of rapping. Heartless is also the third or fourth song (I’ve lost count) where he has sung a set of vocals in place of the usual rhyme scheme, pushing him ever closer toward the category of Pop music where I believe he clearly belongs. The single itself is sad, carrying a downbeat melody on the shoulders of a weary backbeat. Kanye sings about “the coldest story ever told” because of “a woman so heartless.” Throughout every synth echo, Kanye begs the question, “How could you be so heartless?” This is a question asked throughout the history of music in every genre going back to when they were banging keys in the palaces of Vienna. What makes this particular piece of music especially disposable, at...

Top 5 Reasons to Turn On Your TV

Ah, it’s that time of year again where I abandon my springtime vows to “be more productive” and “watch less TV.” Yes, the fall TV season is here. And even though Jay Leno is single-handedly destroying the 10 p.m. hour of NBC’s lineup, there are lots of things to look forward to in the coming months. And while this site is mostly about creativity and inspiration, I can’t write about creativity without mentioning some of the great shows out there which inspire me. Here are the Top Five shows I’m looking forward to this season 5. Glee (FOX 9 p.m. Wednesdays 9/9/09) – Normally, I wouldn’t like a show like this. It’s an hour-long comedy that features high school kids singing and dancing, the stereotypical jocks, nerds, misfits, etc … Let’s face it, shows like this usually aim at the lowest common denominator and rarely appeal to both teens and adults. Centered around a fictional high school glee club, Glee manages to pull off the impossible, walking the fine line between wit, sentimentality and laugh-out-loud one liners. John Hughes would be proud to see what he helped inspire. Matthew Morrison stars as earnest Spanish teacher Will Schuester, who is attempting to revive the school’s glee club to the glory days it once enjoyed when he sang in it as a student at the school. Married to a nagging wife who is looking to keep up with The Joneses, Will is a nice, but broken man. Add to that one case of secret longing for a co-worker who is right for him, and you have a budding romance worth watching....

7 Ways Craig Ferguson Can Make Your Blog Awesome

Do you find yourself envying some of the Big Name Bloggers with their pretty Web sites, zillions of followers and endless support from bloggers and advertisers alike? You might even find yourself tempted to copy those other blogs, trying to find the same success. Don’t. Let’s talk a bit about Jimmy Fallon. For those that don’t know who Jimmy Fallon is, he’s the 34-year old former Saturday Night Live actor who landed the cushy gig at NBC’s Late Night show after Conan O’Brien inherited Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show. Fallon’s show started this spring with a lot going for it. NBC pumped tons of money into Late Night and promoted it like crazy. Fallon stuck closely with the irreverent formula created by Conan O’Brien. The production value is top-notch and the guests are among some of today’s hottest actors and musicians. His house band is The Roots, which must have cost NBC some major cash and also ups the coolness ante. By all reasonable expectations, Fallon should be owning the slot. Yet, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon is unwatchable. The problem is the way that Jimmy Fallon comes off onscreen. His delivery is awful, he is entirely too self conscious and he’s not very funny. Which, for a comedian, is kind of a bad thing. Watching Fallon is like watching the last third of hit and miss sketches on Saturday Night Live. Sometimes, it’s good and other times, you hate yourself in the morning. In short, Fallon, in attempt to mimic Conan’s great show, has created a pale imitation at best. Despite the big budget, the great lead-in (though...