Who Ever Said This Would Be Easy?

When I see a piece of art for the first time, it hits me.
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It stops me every time I read a sentence so melodic that I cannot continue until I’ve paused a few moments in wonder.
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It stuns me every time I manage to step closer to an oil painting when the museum guard is looking the other way.
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And every time I hear fingers pluck guitar strings softly, it gets me.
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That true art is an act of defiance.
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Somewhere along the way (probably from one of those rags to riches Hollywood movies), I learned that if you’re good at something, truly meant to do something, it will come easily, as gentle as this piano sonata I’m listening to right now.
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But as I now know, as we now know, it isn’t so.
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If I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that art is sacrifice.
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Art is giving up time beneath the comforter on a winter’s day, time ‘round the coffee shop table with friends, time spent making good money.
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Art is part blood, part tears, part silent [and vocal] frustration.
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It’s an act of defiance, declaring to yourself, to the world, that what you have is worth working for, is worth sacrificing much for.
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Because art is not a gentle master.
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He not only demands that you show up daily, he demands innovation.
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He demands something new each time around, a little more of yourself with each day.
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When I sit down at my desk each morning, I’m aware of this. Without innovation, I’m only practicing, dragging my pen across the paper in the same old loops and lines, skimming my fingertips across the keys in the same old patterns. Without it, I’m posting and publishing material that’s already been seen in the same light as all the rest.
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Innovation, that skin-tingling instant where you’ve unearthed something both ancient and modern in your hands, is the root of art.
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And it takes a sharp shovel and determined hands to get to those roots, roots that sprawl side to side, deeper and deeper still.
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Innovation builds on what you know. What you read, hear, discuss, learn, see.
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From now on, every Friday post will be an anthology of art I find scattered across the web (and the outside world as well), be it articles, paintings, blog posts, books, songs, controversies, etc.
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It only takes a sentence, a glance, a note in major C to spark that innovation.
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And then comes the difficult part, fanning the glow until you can feel real heat.
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Once you glimpse a bit of innovation, chase it down.
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Create, discover, seek, understand.
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I’m telling you now, it won’t be the smoothest of paths, but in the end, you’ll have your work of art, your innovation, your act of defiance.
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When I see the colors in a Van Gogh, when I hear the harmonica in a Bob Dylan song, when I read a sentence from one of William Trevor’s books, I’m stunned, in awe of the pain, the blood, the tears, and the frustration that went into each and every word, stroke, note.
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Because every work of art is both an act of innovation and defiance.
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And friends, here’s your permission to be defiant.
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Do you find this in your own art? Please tell me I’m not alone.