Posts Tagged ‘book’

I’m reading a great book, Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura, a brilliant Christian artist and founder of IAM the International Arts Movement. This excerpt is the story behind one of the most famous speeches of all time and a reminder of our role as artists in the culture.

“In August 1963, prior to giving his “I Have a Dream” speech at the march on Washington, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. found himself exhausted by a series of setbacks, imprisonments, oppressions and disappointments. He was so physically worn out that he spent many hours simply resting while followers wrote the speech he was to give to the historic gathering. One of his close aides, Clarence Benjamin Jones, said that “the logistical preparation for the march were so burdensome that the speech was not a priority for us” and “on the evening of Tuesday, August 27 [twelve hours before the march], Martin still didn’t know what he was going to say.” After walking a few miles to the Lincoln Memorial, he stood to read the prepared text, but he knew something was not right.

Mahalia Jackson, the great Gospel singer who sang before he spoke, who stood behind Dr. King throughout the speech. As he read, she kept on yelling “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin, Tell ’em about the dream.” At the end of the prepared speech, Dr. King put down his text and began to speak extemporaneously; the energy of the listening crowd, and the result was the “I have a dream” we know today.

Imagine that, an artist pushing a tired preacher to preach from his heart. Dr. King was an artist of the dream, but it took another artist to recognize the artistry that was being held back by the context of the gathering.

Artists need to stand behind the podiums of preachers, teachers and leaders and remind them to “tell ’em about the dream!” Part of our calling is to remind leaders of what they are marching toward to begin with, to reach the deepest recesses of their own visions. Sometimes we need to remind them to put down their prepared texts. Artists who operate as [cultural border walkers] can exhort in this way, in and out of a prepared tribal language into a visionary, extemporaneous jazz language of the heart. That music invites all to become extemporaneous artists of care.”

Who can you help “tell ’em about the dream?”


Here’s a creative challenge from my upcoming book, The Daily Creative:

Enjoy, and I’d love to see what you created. Share a link in the comments.

An excerpt from my upcoming book on overcoming creative block.

Often the biggest problem that blocks us creatively is not a lack of ideas, we may have a thousand ideas floating around in our creative brains. The problem may be settling in on one. Which one should I do first? It may also be negative self talk. “I’m not good enough to do that;” “I don’t have what it takes;” “I’m lacking some resource;” or maybe just plain “I can’t.” Maybe the nagging “what if’s” have come to call: “What if I can’t do it?” “What if something goes wrong?” “What if I can’t finish?” The list goes on and on and on.

Here’s the thing. I can’t guarantee you success. You may have a raging success or you may fail royally, but I can guarantee failure. You will fail every time if you don’t do one thing—START! So often this is exactly what we do. We get an idea, maybe even a great one, but then the doubts rear their ugly heads and we walk away from it. Don’t do that. To succeed, you have to start. There has never been a success that did not start with a start. I know it sounds obvious, and it is obvious, but I’m convinced that thousands of people take earth shaking ideas to their graves every day because they didn’t have the courage to start.

You say, “But I have all these ideas, what should I choose?” I can’t help you with that. All I can say is pick the one that most appeals to you and start. I know it might be scary. I know you may think you don’t have what it takes to bring it to fruition. Put those fears out of your head and start. You may not have all you need to bring it to fruition right now, but take it as far as you can and see what happens. You may need to bring someone else on board to help you at some point, and it will be much easier to get them on board if you’ve already got something to show, so start.

What if you pick the wrong project? That could happen, but you’ll never know until you start. At the very least you’ll learn what doesn’t work. START. What if people don’t like it? Find the ones who do and sell it to them. What if I get a whole lot of resources into it before it fails? Make your first steps low risk, high reward steps, sketches and drawings cost nothing but time. Start, do what you can and consult people who can tell you what steps or improvements to make.

You’ll never finish, you’ll never succeed if you don’t start.

Here’s the last one. Look for the book. I have about 100 pages to go.

Here’s the next one. Have at it.

Okay this week has been hectic and I got behind, AGAIN. So here’s what I’ve decided to do. I am going to share pages from my upcoming book, The Daily Creative, one each day.
Here’s today’s.

A long time ago I came up with the idea for a book called The Elephant Cookbook. Ironically, based on the topic, I never finished it. I came up with a format that was clunky and a cute way of presenting the material that I just couldn’t quite make work. It’s still in my idea file and I pray that it can come together one day, but I had other projects that were ready to go and succeed so I changed my focus to bring them to life.

The idea behind The Elephant Cookbook was based on the idea of working on multiple deadlines, constant pressure and a to do list that seems like it will never get done. The title was conceived from the old joke, “How to you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

I’ve been there often. There is so much work to be done and you don’t know how you’ll ever accomplish it all. It all gets very daunting and if you look at it as a huge pile, the discouragement can become crippling. But what would happen if you ate that elephant one bite at a time, i.e. What if you broke the project down into small manageable steps and then set about to check each of those steps off your list one at a time. All of the sudden, each step accomplished feels like a victory and the more you check off the better you feel until all that’s left of that “elephant” are the bones.

Breaking things down into manageable steps is often the best way to reach your dreams and accomplish your goals. Now I just need to work out the bugs in The Elephant Cookbook. Oh and by the way it is okay to put a stuck project aside. Just don’t make a habit of starting without finishing. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. Most of the time, you just need to take another bite and keep chewing.

One last thing, don’t leave God out of this process. He has come through for me when I was in over my head so many times it’s not even funny.