Author's SelfieI’ve posted and/or commented on the catchphrase used by Dean Wesley Smith and Nina Kiriki Hoffman “Dare to Be Bad.” I recommend you go and read Dean’s post about it, I pull it out every so often. I think it’s a terrific lesson for any creative person to learn to have the courage to share their work. Get up off your ass and sing. Paint in public. Share your stories. Give it your best even if you fall on your face. Then do it again. Dean’s post is actually very encouraging. I want to touch on another aspect, one that I see in libraries.

Allowing Others to Be Bad

Apparently, writers should condense perfectly formed from a cloud of cigarette and alcohol vapors in front of a typewriter and pound out a soul-wrenching masterpiece. And if you can’t write that masterpiece why do you even try? Dean talks about having the courage to write and then put your work in the mail and he’s right that there are no real consequences.

Except the judgment exists. Someone tells you that they read a book, saw a movie, listened to an album, and you ask, “Was it good?”

We all do this. “You saw the Lego Batman Movie? Did you like it?”

(No, I haven’t seen it yet).

Librarians do this too, selecting materials based on the evidence available. That may be a review (by a professional reviewer). Awards. The author’s past track record and reputation. The design of the item. Community interest in the item.

That doesn’t mean that there is a universe ruler against which all things may be measured. I may love a book that the author thinks is one of their least successful books. Someone else may agree with the author. I loved the new Ghostbusters movie and would love to see the cast do another. Do you agree?

Unfortunately, this personal judgment of whether something is good or bad interferes with our creative processes. If you’re overly judgmental about other people’s creative work, it is going to be that much harder to risk judgment of your own work unless you have an unassailable ego. Or can just let it go.

I frankly don’t understand people writing savage reviews of another person’s work. It didn’t work for you? Fine. Forget about it and move on. Even if the person writing it didn’t have any skill whatsoever, consider what it took to create that work. The act of creation instructs and teaches. It “promotes social, emotional, and cognitive development.” (Love, Burns, Bruell, 2007). It starts as children, but at any age the act of writing is positive.

The library can play a role in this process by creating opportunities for people to create, connect, and engage with local content. One way we do this now is through BiblioBoard and SELF-e. BiblioBoard provides stories written by people in your community in instantly available, no waiting, no late fees, e-books. Through SELF-e, local creators submit e-books which are added to the local BiblioBoard collection and considered for the national curated collection.

Image of Timberland Author titles

BiblioBoard provides that balance between encouraging and supporting local content creation, while also highlighting notable titles. Regardless of whether or not a title works for a particular reader, it may work for someone else. And the effort is successful simply because writers share their work. The fact that someone wrote something is meaningful, it matters. You have the choice to pick up a book and start reading, and you have the choice to put it down. Encouraging others (giving them courage) is a positive attitude to take. We do it often (hopefully) with children as they learn. No one expects the kid telling a story to be as masterful as Stephen King.

Encouraging others (giving them courage) is a positive attitude to take. We do it often (hopefully) with children as they learn. No one expects the kid telling a story to be as masterful as Stephen King. I’d love to reach that skill level with my craft. I’m still learning. Encourage others to be daring. Maybe by doing so you’ll be encouraged as well, with whatever you want to try.

Daily Sketch Challenge

Sketch for daily challengeAgain, talking about daring to be bad, this morning I decided to practice some fundamentals, simple shapes, and shading.

I like this ‘page-a-day’ sort of format for the sketch. The default template I created is 800×800 pixels. The small space gives me a focus that I like. I’m less tempted to try and do more with it than I can in the time available. I think keeping the sessions short also helps, though I do plan to gradually increase the time when possible, but I want to keep these fairly short. I probably won’t go over 10 minutes with the sketch challenge. If I want to work on something longer it will be independent of the challenge.

I could do all of this and not share any of it. I certainly don’t have to record it and put it up on YouTube. But I also see the creative process as something that should be shared.

Create. Share. Repeat.

Harder than it looks!