Browsing Tag

writer

Ten Thousand Days

Mistrakes

December 9, 2019

Photo: Estee Janssens

Day 1936 – Day 1941

I was saddened to learn, this week, that the Apostrophe Protection Society has been disbanded.  One of my pet peeves is poor grammar, punctuation and spelling.  I had the opportunity to be an editor for a couple of literary magazines, in college.  In my early career, I worked in book publishing and in filmmaking, as a script reader and story editor.  I have read many manuscripts in my time, and when something is rife with errors, I blame the editor.

On this website, I am both writer and editor.  The buck stops with me.  Lately, you’ve been getting 75 cents on the dollar.

When WordPress updated its software earlier this year, my spelling and grammar check disappeared.  Regular readers will know that these posts are meant to be a first draft.  I try not to spend more than an hour or two writing a post and I usually don’t do much editing.  I do move, change and delete words, and sometimes a stray word or letter will cling to the screen, where it was meant to be gone.

This week, I went back to rewrite my previous post. I wanted to use it for another purpose but was sure that my first draft would need serious re-writing, given my self-imposed challenge to write more frequently.  I was dismayed – trypos and stragglers are were everywhere! Browsing my past posts, I see at least one error in each.  If I were clever, I’d call it my “style” and do some branding around it.

It is difficult to edit one’s own work.  The brain fills in what it expects to see, rather than what is actually there.  I take responsibility for my work, as I do my actions.  I apologize for the errors in my posts and am grateful that my readers overlook my mistrakes.

Like many people, I suffer some humiliation whenever I make a public mistake.  As a child, I learned that mistakes were bad.  Going to school was like going to war and bringing home less than straight A’s meant that my errors, rather than my achievements, were highlighted.  I became identified with my work and my worth became dependent on being perfect.

That’s quite a setup.

I can still be hard on myself now, failing to recognize an accomplishment if it falls short of my own ideal.  For years I answered compliments with that old classic: “Yeah, but….”  I succeed, in some measure, at pretty much everything I do, but I don’t know if that is because I’m truly gifted, obsessively driven or because I edit from my life those things that don’t come naturally, and where I might make a mistake or fail.

As a child, of around 5 or 6, I received a damning comment on my report card: “Does not handle scissors well.”  From that point, visual art was out; Math and English were in.  My recent efforts to paint are a departure from my comfort zone and long-held self concept.  There are two exceptional people for whom I’m grateful:  my friend, and artist, CMF, who encouraged me – at this point in my life – to skip the long route of classical training, if what I really wanted to do was paint, and the artist Jesse Reno, who dared to tell me, and then show me, that even I – who still struggles with scissors and can’t draw a straight line – can paint.

As an intuitive artist I am not aiming to be a good technical painter. I aim to step out of my own way and let the elements of design create form for whatever wants to be born and when I’m at my best, I’m not the painter; I am the conduit. That detachment makes it easy for me to put my work out there, to be seen.

Unfortunately, I’ve been writing since I could form words.  The baggage of my perfection-dependent self worth clings to every phrase.  I wrote a play in college that was produced and was a hit.  When I submitted it to a “Modern Day Monsters” contest, I was rejected (I almost edited that but left it; I am still too closely identified with my work).  The reader sent back notes that I imagine were meant only for the judges’ eyes because they were truly unkind and assessed me as needing psychological help.  The reader made the mistake of not recognizing that my piece was a dark comedy about the way humans can be monsters and that the worst monsters are often those closest to us who have the power to devour our souls.  I was crushed by the feedback and I don’t think I’ve submitted a piece of writing to a contest, producer, or magazine since.  When I left college, I quit ‘creative’ writing for a very long time.

There have been other times in my life when I have failed.  I often think of a time when I worked for years to position myself into a particular job.  Once in the job, I misread the unwritten culture of the department (which contradicted the official culture of the organization) and it became impossible for me to stay.  After only 4 years in the position, I left the best job, under the worst circumstances, I’d ever known.  I haven’t recovered from that and a dream that was more than a decade in the making simply died.

Am I, then,  a success or a failure?  That is a judgement call.

How helpful has judgement been to me, really?  I think my disdain for grammar and spelling mistakes comes from a secret fear that I will be caught out, making one, myself.  I want more courage to take risks for the yearnings of my heart and soul and if I am to stretch beyond my current limitations, mistakes are inevitable. I must edit  my conditioned fear of mistakes from my life.

I ordered the WordPress for Dummies book and I will try to figure out how to re-install a spell check, because I respect you, my readers.  The truth is, I’m going to continue to make mistakes and I trust that those who are meant to walk with me on this journey of ten thousand days will accept me, waart’s and all.

Thinking back to my early career, I’m grateful to an award winning film producer, MJ, for whom I worked.  I was anxious about not reading fast enough, about being measured in my reader’s notes (for fear they might end up in a rejection letter), worried about missing the gem of a manuscript in the slush pile (I did) or recommending a stinker (which, I also did).   MJ modelled for me the idea that mistakes are not bad; they can be opportunities for development.  “Relax,” he said to me.  “We aren’t curing cancer, we’re just making movies.”

If I misspell a word or leave in an extra letter, nobody is going to die. Some good, even gratitude, may come of it.

Language Warning – PG 13+

For what are you most grateful, this week?

 

 

Art, Articles, Community, Happiness, Intimacy, Joy, Oneness, Service

WRDSMTH: Aspiring to Inspire – Every Day

February 12, 2016
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“Happy in London, UK” by WRDSMTH. Photo by @D7606. Photo provided courtesy of WRDSMTH.

We continue our series on individuals making a difference in the world, with the skills they possess.  As a Valentine’s Day special, we feature LA based street artist WRDSMTH.

Each day, WRDSMTH touches hearts around the world with a new WRD – spray painted images of a vintage typewriter, topped with his messages of motivation, love and humour.  WRDSMTH mixes a sense of nostalgia with pop culture in his art and for a world lost in the complexity of the “extreme present,” his WRDs evoke a simpler time – perhaps imagined – when we were all a little kinder to ourselves and one another, and when love was a committment for life.

Every piece, in its own way, feels like a love letter, sent out to the world, from the artist.

"Hate Love" by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

“Hate Love” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

WRDSMTH calls his WRDs “indelible messages” which he “tattoos on walls” in cities around the world. WRDs can be found in Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego, West Palm Beach, London, Paris, Edinburgh, and Melbourne. His art is best experienced in its public context where its position in the surrounding environment adds another layer of meaning. However, for those unable to see it in situ, clever use of social media enables worldwide followers to participate in the daily experience, with photographs of his work appearing on his Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts.

Hoping to achieve a modest following of 500-1,000 followers, WRDSMTH currently has over 75,000 followers on Instagram and the number continues to grow, daily.

"Instagram" by WRDSMTH. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Instagram” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

We emailed WRDSMTH in LA, to ask him a little more about his work and his motivations for being a force for positive messaging in the world.

 

TTDOG: In a recent article you were quoted as saying: The aim of art is “to inspire, entertain, or woo other individuals” Are you trying to woo us, Mr. WRDSMTH? As my father would say: What are your intentions for us?

WRDSMTH: No and yes. I recently used the word woo mainly to refer to the romantic WRDs I put up all over the world, as opposed to the motivational ones which inspire and the funny ones which I hope entertain. However, yes, I am trying woo people with my words. My intention is to affect. Period.

"Shine" by WRDSMTH. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Shine” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

I hope my work makes people ponder, smile, and maybe laugh. The notion that people turn a corner and see a piece of mine or are driving by one and my WRDs affect them in a positive manner, makes me happy and, in turn, adds fuel to the creative fire. If a percentage of those people notice the name attached to my pieces and at some juncture look me up, fall into the rabbit hole that is the my body of work, and possibly become followers/fans, then my wooing was successful.

 

TTDOG: Why do you think positive WRDs from an anonymous stranger are so important to people and why is that craving so universal?

WRDSMTH: When I began WRDSMTHing, I just felt that this city (L.A.) and the world needed some positivity. I think it’s easy in this day and age to feel negative toward current events, politics, and even most of what’s deemed entertainment these days. I shy away from those heavily debated topics and instead choose to focus on the individual – the person that happens upon my WRDs – and, again, I aim to affect them in a positive manner.

"struggle pays" by WRDSMTH. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Struggle Pays” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

And even though my messages reach a wide audience, I think people find the words compelling because of that one-on-one experience. I often am told people feel like my WRDs are speaking directly to them, which is a huge compliment, in my book. And the mystery of who is putting all these WRDs all over the world definitely works in my favor, which is a big reason why I retain my anonymity.

"two believe" by WRDSMTH. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Two Believe” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

Born in Ohio, WRDSMTH moved to Chicago, where he crafted words into slogans designed to sell dreams through consumption. Realising that time waits for no one, he risked all to chase his own dream of being a writer and moved to Los Angeles. Following a very successful run, in 2013, he again turned his craft to selling a dream, with his WRDs. This time, it was the most cherished but often abandoned dream – fulfillment.

"Dream Bigge(r)" by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of WRDSMTH

“Dream Bigge(r)” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

Despite his startlingly rapid rise as an international street Artist, WRDSMTH remains dedicated to his first passion: writing. He writes, every day. For solitary people of letters, his WRDs offer not only a dose of motivation but a sense of community.

"Create Every Day" by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesty of the artist.

“Create Every Day” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesty of the artist.

 

TTDOG: One of your most famous WRDs says: “Aspire to Inspire Others and the Universe Will Take Note.” In what way do you feel the universe has taken note – for yourself as well as for those who have been inspired by you?

WRDSMTH: ‘Aspire’ has definitely become a mantra for WRDSMTH, but that’s because those words are so in line with what I aim to do and aimed to do from the get-go. I began this endeavor speaking to all the creative individuals doing time in Hollywood. However, I quickly realized it wasn’t just about those doing time here, but those doing time everywhere. Everyone has a dream – whether it be a creative one, a productive one or a romantic one.

"Aspire To Inspire" by WRDSMTH. Photo by Playboy. Photo provided courtesy of WRDSMTH

“Aspire To Inspire” by WRDSMTH. Photo by Playboy. Photo provided courtesy of WRDSMTH

We all aim to inspire others and if that intent is truly altruistic, I firmly believe the universe will take note. And hopefully good karma ensues. My success has been unexpected. I actually started WRDSMTHing for me because I needed an active hobby. The fact that my WRDs are resonating with so many is thrilling on a daily basis, which is why ‘Aspire’ is a mantra. The messages I get from fans and followers are amazing and are always welcome. I love hearing how I have inspired and motivated others. I also love hearing how my romantic WRDs have helped bring people together.

In a city and in an era where ‘authenticity’ is simply an attribute for branding, the nostalgic warmth and sometimes gut wrenching honesty of his art hints at the character of the man behind the WRDs.

 

TTDOG: Is the open hearted, playful, and vulnerable quality of your WRDs an extension of your professional writing, or is the anonymous WRDSMTH an alter ego that doesn’t get space for expression in your other writing? Why put yourself at risk, in a renegade medium? What impact does the medium and your anonymity have on what you communicate?

WRDSMTH: Both. I think the most compelling stories in any medium are open-hearted, amusing, and vulnerable. At least my favorite novels, movies, TV shows, and music have those characteristics. My professional work includes novels and screenplays and I follow that path, along with a strong belief that “less is more” in all my writing. WRDSMTH is such a merger of worlds for me. I used to work as a copywriter in advertising, so I think I understand how to be effective and affect with as few words as possible. However, WRDSMTH is not like advertising in that I have the creative freedom to say what I want with no agenda or boundaries. That is refreshing and addictive. As far as the risk in a renegade medium . . . isn’t that a vital ingredient in most success stories?

"trump" by WRDSMTH. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Trump” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

While affirmation is a great drug, I was not seeking it when I started WRDSMTHing and I always say I’d still be doing what I do even if I only had 500 followers. I will always say what I want to say and will always express myself in a myriad of personal and vulnerable ways because that’s what writers do. Hemingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I love that. Another mantra of mine that I penned is, “Do it for yourself and hope that what you do resonates with others.” I guess where Hemingway and WRDSMTH intersect is where my WRDs are born. The medium of street art seems to add a level of cool to my words.

"f ck out of u" by WRDSMTH. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“f ck out of u” Original artwork by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

The action of putting pieces up at all hours of the night while dancing a line of legality romanticizes the words to a great degree. There’s a difference between potentially reading “You got this. You know you do.” on a motivational poster or “You are amazing. You deserve amazing.” in a greeting card, versus seeing those words on a wall on the corner of Sunset and LaBrea. And the action of taking a picture of those pieces and Instagramming them or sending them to a loved one is more meaningful in this day and age of texting and social media. However, while I am aware of all this, it doesn’t change or alter what I put out there. My WRDs come from my life and my experiences, not from the expectation or hope that they will be Instagrammed or forwarded.

Specific laws, enforcement and penalties for street art vary from city to city and from country to country. In some cases, artwork is specifically commissioned or ‘permissioned.’  WRDSMTH’s installation at SYNDCTD creative agency in LA, and in Lululemon’s shop windows are recent examples of such work. Without such permissions, the question of legality is always a concern for artists painting in public spaces.

"Tell Stories" - photo courtesy of WRDSMTH

“Tell Stories” by WRDSMTH, on the wall of the SYNDCTD offices in LA. Photo provided courtesy of WRDSMTH.

While second guessing what the law would consider ‘acceptable placement’ for his street art, WRDSMTH has stated that he never paints on private property in order to have his WRDs seen. Sensing what he terms a renaissance occurring in street art in Los Angeles, he points to promising changes on the horizon. Some city council members have begun to work with street artists to attempt to provision public spaces for art, as part of urban rejuvenation and beautification.

"Face The Facts" by WRDSMTH. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Face The Facts” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

Not to detract from the LA cool of WRDSMTH, the street artist, his midwestern kindness goes beyond messages of love, humour and inspiration.  A proponent of the Pay it Forward philosophy, WRDSMTH gives of his time and notes that most of his sales have some component of charitable giving attached to them.  In 2015, he gave time and artwork to several causes including after school programs for LA children, local youth centres, the city’s homeless and for breast cancer research.

 

TTDOG: You help and inspire many people. Who has helped and inspired you, along the way? Who helps you these days, and what inspires you to stay positive and keep going, even on those days when things look bleak?

WRDSMTH: I am inspired by a lot of things: Friends. Family. Love. Music. Sunsets. Sunrises. Wanderlust. A really great burger. Cookies and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Honesty. Laughter. Great conversation. Really good wine. Art in all its forms.

"Wanderlust" by WRDSMTH. Photo by Dean Sunshine, provided courtesy of WRDSMTH

“Wanderlust” by WRDSMTH. Photo by Dean Sunshine. Photo provided courtesy of WRDSMTH.

Someone once said, “Life is a struggle. But every now and then, we stumble upon something magical and it just makes everything all right.” My list includes things I often stumble upon – and they just make everything all right for me. Maybe for some, my art is something stumbled upon. At least I hope it is. And I stay positive by immersing myself in the things I love, by surrounding myself with people who challenge me, and by finding the good hidden in all the bleak on this big blue marble we are spinning on.

 

TTDOG: Many people want to make the world a better place but feel that they alone can’t make a difference or that they don’t have the skills, talent or opportunity. What would you say to them?

WRDSMTH: Find a way. There’s always a way.

"give take DTLA" by WRDSMTH. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Give Take DTLA” by WRDSMTH. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

 

TTDOG: What do you wish people would ask you about yourself or your work, but never do?

WRDSMTH: I like when people ask me my name instead of calling me Word or Mister Smith. I enjoy when fans inquire about my other writing. I like when they ask about my muse(s). I love when they ask if they can buy me a drink. I’d like more single girls to ask if I am single. I also wish people would ask me what my favorite palindrome is. The answer: racecar.

Heads up, ladies: WRDSMTH is single!

As is our practice at TTDOG, there is one final question for the artist:

TTDOG:
For what are you most grateful and where do you find your greatest joy?
"joy of life" by WRDSMTH. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“Joy of Life in New Orleans, LA” by WRDSMTH. Photo by Scott Allen Perry. Photo provided courtesy of the artist.

WRDSMTH: 
I am most grateful for my life – the amazing and baffling opportunity to spend some decades living and making a mark in the world. And my greatest joy is knowing that my work, words, and WRDs are reaching and affecting people all over the world.

WRDSMTH’s original artworks  have been sold at Julien’s Auctions, Art Share-LA, In Heroes We Trust, Q Art Gallery, The Gabba Gallery, Stone Malone Gallery, and LabArt. He currently has prints, photos and wearable art for sale at Paper and Fabric.

To learn more about WRDSMTH and be inspired by his daily artwork, follow him at:
WRDSMTH on Instagram
WRDSMTH on Facebook
WRDSMTH on Tumblr
WRDSMTH on Twitter
Email WRDSMTH at: WRDSMTHinLA@gmail.com