Wednesday, April 15, 2015

David Usher Strikes Again

Remember that blog post where I went on and on about my obsession with David Usher? Well, whether you do or don't, I'll spare you the verbal details of my one-sided maniacal passion, and will instead go to town with the following photos, which I've been collecting like a shrine to this ageless, timeless, beautiful beast.

My love for David was not entirely my fault. As can be seen, he led me on a fair bit:


In addition to that, we were in quite a serious pending relationship for a good long while:


For my 26th birthday, my girlfriend got me a cake with his picture on it...and, I mean, come on David. You "love" it...? Just quit playing already..



So, I tried to quit David. I really did. But then this past Christmas GUESS who was on the CBC Christmas ballad special? You guessed it. Well, you guessed it if you guessed David Usher. Because that was who was on the CBC Christmas ballad special:


So then I thought, you know what..that's fine. I'm over it. Flash your big ol' bling all you want. I'm done. I am movin' on up.  And then you know what David did?

David wrote a book.

It's called "Let the Elephants Run" and it's a book about unleashing your creativity.  I read it over two afternoons, and here are some highlights.

One of the first exercises thrown at the reader is this blank page on which we are urged to scribble and doodle and basically let loose. Letting the elephants run is a way to unleash our creativity, David explains, the kind of creativity that we used to have as children, but lost along the way.



Then there's this picture, which I feel like if seven year-old Coco tried, she could do a better job drawing.  I'm pretty sure I would try harder if that was my book, but you know, that's none of my business. It's not like David Usher is my dad. And you know what, don't hide behind your age either.



And then I came across two ideas that I actually found very useful in my own pursuit of creative drive.  I've been thinking, and planning, and writing, and re-writing on scraps of paper, and picking through old notes, and revisiting old stories of mine, trying to find the inspiration, the spark that will push me to finally type out at the very least a working draft of the book I'm working on.  I keep thinking there will be a perfectly quiet afternoon, a cozy space, a week where I can't think about anything other than writing, a spot in the shade (under a palm tree? in a coffee shop?), somewhere, sometime where I can finally focus and get it out there. But there never is. Life doesn't give you that creative break so I've found I've had to sort of chop it out of my day on my own.  I was really happy to read this part, because it reaffirmed to me the fact that the absence of a quiet moment or a creative area does not mean it's not the right time to write. It just means I have to try harder to create that silence in my head and write already. Are you waiting for perfection?


And the second idea is one that challenges this thought I've had gnawing its way through my head (eww, why?). The thought that if I were just talented in something, things would happen naturally. I remember many years ago, I was painting with a friend, and I nearly had a meltdown because I couldn't even pick a color let alone decide on what to draw.  He was flipping through three art books, and calmly looked up at me and said, "It's not about creativity. It's about inspiration." That usually helps me when I can't decide what to write or how to write it: I find inspiration from someone else's talent, and let it create mine. Not in a creepy plagiarist way but in a way that recognizes that creativity means effort, and just because ideas don't randomly explode in your head, doesn't mean you aren't talented. You just need to keep working at it. That idea in itself - that talent is malleable - is so, so inspiring to me.


And you know it wouldn't be a David Usher masterpiece if David didn't quote himself in it.  This is probably my favorite part of his book.



Keep doing what you're doing, David. You'll always have a fan in me.


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