Follow through

Finishing books that I abandoned after reading 100 or so pages is having a curiously strong impact on my sense of self. Who’d have thunk? It’s empowering! Since the New Year, I’ve completed a handful of books that, absent the #theunreadshelfproject (Instagram), I might never have finished.

With that in mind, I’d like to experiment with follow through here.

This is me: tomorrow I’ll post about unreliable narrators. Then: silence.

I may then write about the topic privately; I may not. But the point is — here there’s a hanging intention, a risk left unmet.

They are often tricky topics about race or my writing or both. I get nervous talking about my novel as if to do so is to jinx it or, almost as bad, to publicly shame myself for not being done yet.

Because some planned posts involve historic references and/or nuanced ideas about ownership of stories, I can’t bang them out the normal way. “The weather’s this. Patchwork is that.” I need time. And courage.

But, the posts don’t have to be perfect, either. The ideas don’t need to be fully fleshed out. And, though this is not best practice, I don’t even have to include all the necessary attributions at the time of publication. This isn’t scholarship, after all.

I’ve already had the experience of readers giving me important clarifications or details. And encouragement. Why wouldn’t I keep availing myself of that?

So deep breath.

Austin Kleon, from “Steal Like An Artist” speaks to this.

Jude Hill models this day in and day out. One way of looking at my intention here is that I want to apply a spiritcloth approach to historic fiction. In so doing, I hope to exemplify another of Kleon’s big ideas (one that is often misunderstood) which is to say that “Stealing like an Artist” means trying to think like people we admire. It doesn’t mean trying to copy what they make (although he attempts to normalize that as well, noting that all artists learn by copying and if you want to be good copy, not one, but many).

Well, this turned into a little Kleon book review which was not my intention!


PS We got more than a foot of snow and a fourth nor’easter is on the way. Honestly, as long as K is not in Asia (which he was for the first two), I don’t care.

15 thoughts on “Follow through

  1. Mo Crow

    Yay for following through with the reading & writing your novel ! I love Jude’s concept of sympathetic evolution & how she questions herself and her practice with a finely honed intellect, deep heart & wry humour summed up in “just going” through all the thicks and thins of life.
    PS I really don’t like, actually that’s too mild a way of putting it, I can’t stand Austin Kleon, IMnot soHO!

  2. Nancy

    Yes…just put yourself out there (anywhere, not just online…I’m thinking about work), in process. So hard to do (for me). Jude DOES do it so well. Love the snow and sky! What is with the garlic?

    1. deemallon

      I roasted those heads for later use. Had just read a long list of health benefits. Unfortunately I burnt them 😜

  3. Liz A

    Much food for thought here … which is why I love to visit.

    Austin Kleon seems to attract love/hate in equal measure … he is definitely a provocateur. I happen to be a fan and enjoy his weekly newsletter which leads me down many a rabbit hole. It also doesn’t hurt that he lives in nearby Austin and has kids the same age as my grandkids.

  4. saskia

    i’m pretty good at reading a book to the end, however, i have countless ‘projects’ that are patiently waiting for the day i get round to finishing them!
    re the copying, i always refer to Picasso (freely paraphrased): better use someone’s good idea than make do with your own rubbish one……

    1. saskia

      adding to which, when folks are abhorred by my recommending the copycatting: you’ll NEVER be able to copy the master exactly, duh, one’s always restrained by one’s limitations……..

      1. deemallon

        Well that is one of Kleon’s main points. And we can’t copy because of the variance in our rich inner lives, how different our filters are, the differences in skill. He is not of course advocating ripping off other people’s work. That is upsetting, and even if it doesn’t rise to the level of criminal, awful.

    2. deemallon

      I finish almost all fiction that I start — even if I don’t particularly like it. But nonfiction I tend to pick at and abandon.

  5. debgorr

    I read this quote by Kleon earlier when I looped by to visit and have been thinking about it a lot. I do have one of his books, been on the “to read” pile for awhile. Maybe it needs to move up the pile…

    1. deemallon

      If only to understand why he is such a lightening rod. I find him inspiring and therefore useful. Discussions of copying I feel need to come with the understanding that we all abhor THAT kind of copying. I’ll be interested to hear what you think.

      1. debgorr

        Just finished “Steal Like an Artist.” I think he makes lots of very good points about creating. I should have mentioned I’ve been reading his blog off and on for years so I’m not really surprised that I liked what he had to say. I recently listened to a podcast he did as well and it struck me that he, in my mind, sometimes makes unfortunate/controversial word choices. “Steal” of course, being one. And yet, when I thought about what word I would use instead, I couldn’t come up with one. I’m still mulling over ideas and will probably do a blog post eventually. I also have “Show Your Work,” so I’ll probably read it first. I wish I had more time to write and read…. 🙂

        1. deemallon

          I agree that his word choice is triggering but I think it’s part
          of his point.

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