Having just finished Austin Kleon's previous book Steal Like an Artist, which I liked but didn't LOVE... I didn't expect anything different here. I me...moreHaving just finished Austin Kleon's previous book Steal Like an Artist, which I liked but didn't LOVE... I didn't expect anything different here. I mean, the book's exactly the same size and shape, the same layout, similar in approach. But this one hit me right between the eyes half a dozen times over.
I immediately started rereading this one, a library copy, and bought this one and Steal Like an Artist. I suspect that I didn't click with the first one because I read it too quickly and didn't really let it settle in. Or maybe it just speaks to a different stage of the artistic journey than I'm on. But Show Your Work... Oh, goodness. The second night I was reading it, I sat up four hours past my bedtime curating photo streams, removing the junk and the fluff, the "so what?" stuff that Austin speaks about. I kept in the stream photos of things-in-process, whether my new attempts at sketchnoting (and I'm NOT a drawing artist) or my attempts at yoga (I'm a middle-aged guy, inflexible and newb-like). I culled old photos of lattes and omelettes. I moved nearly two hundred photos of my family - fine snapshots, but not where I found creative inspiration for this stream - from my photo stream up to Facebook, where more folks are enjoying them as family photos anyway. Grandma and friends are there, not waiting on my photo streams. Four hours.
I also wrote six pages of journal notes, some by hand, some electronically; began to reshape my 9-year-old blog that I've left to die many times over. I revisited the great question of how I can find the metanarrative between all my distinct interests and outputs, to see what the main through-line is.
It's not just Show Your Work alone that sparked this - it was also much of David Whyte's poetry and lectures, as well as learning to doodle note and sketch note - but Kleon's book shaped and unblocked so much.
I can't recommend this book highly enough, and I'll be rereading Steal Like An Artist when my purchased copy of it shows up too.(less)
I really enjoyed Whyte's commentary and recitation of his own poetry and that of others. It's a bit rambling in nature, hard to follow his structure....moreI really enjoyed Whyte's commentary and recitation of his own poetry and that of others. It's a bit rambling in nature, hard to follow his structure. But the reflections on becoming your true self and doing work that you can be wholehearted about, those were fantastic. So was the elegy for his Welsh friend. As if I didn't already know that I just need to read Whyte's entire collection, I'm more convinced now.
Two things were slightly annoying:
1. The way Whyte recites poetry includes this odd, distracting habit of repeating phrases frequently. He does it so that you really grasp the significance of the line, but the pacing and space is all messed up. 2. The track breaks on the CD are in strange places. I haven't looked closely, but maybe they're just equally timed. But they're not placed between themes, paragraphs, poems, whatever. To find something you have to track change and just fast forward or rewind, or maybe listen to the track. If you want to queue up a specific thought, good luck.
Those are minor nitpicks in the end. I'll listen to this CD many times over. (less)
I'm reading heavily on creativity, story, visual thinking these days. Austin Kleon is heavily involved in this space. But this book is just so-so, not...moreI'm reading heavily on creativity, story, visual thinking these days. Austin Kleon is heavily involved in this space. But this book is just so-so, nothing particularly thought provoking. I'm happy to have borrowed it from the library rather than buying it. It's not bad, but I won't need a revisit.
UPDATE: After loving the followup book Show Your Work and LOVING it, I revisited this one. I like it much better this time. It's still a bit simple, but the creative encouragement contained here will be helpful for me in years to come. I revisited this after all, and will continue to do so again.(less)
An excellent guide to the mechanics of good nonfiction story writing. Examples are from a newspaper journalism perspective, and something feels slight...moreAn excellent guide to the mechanics of good nonfiction story writing. Examples are from a newspaper journalism perspective, and something feels slightly dated but I can't put my finger on why, but the details are very helpful.(less)