The author of Don’t Make Art, Just Make Something: The Process, Struggle, and Vital Importance of Getting Started, Miranda Aisling, writes, “It’s never too early to get started.” She’s right, of course, but how many of us truly heed Miranda’s advice?
I know I am guilty of procrastination in some instances. In other situations, my reticence emerges while wondering if my words, ideas, musings, actions, or splashes of color are worthy of life outside of my own imaginings. Miranda discusses the kind of hesitation I’ve encountered, “Nothing happens when we do nothing. Even less happens when we sit and worry about what we’re going to do instead of doing it. But when we do something, anything can happen” (p. 17).
Miranda notes that there are numerous self-help resources with the mantra it’s never too late to start ________ (fill in the blank), but there is almost nothing with the catch phrase it’s never too early. Miranda points out, sadly so I might add, that all too often those who are young are told that they do not have the necessary experience and they simply need to prepare for what will come later. “Those who prove this wrong aren’t held up as examples; they’re pushed aside as exceptions” (p.31). Miranda describes her experience of applying early to college at age 13 when she was in eighth grade and of self-publishing her first novel.
Okay, it’s confession time. I know the author. You see…Miranda attended the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) at Mary Baldwin College – a program I direct. Miranda’s book struck a chord with me on numerous levels. First and foremost, I recognize the need for our education system to be more responsive and flexible, more creative and courageous. I work with students usually who do not “fit” into the typical one-size-fits-all system. Miranda knows; she is one of them. She shares her perspective on the current state of the American education system and its penchant for standardized testing by making the following point, “when there is always only one right answer, students never have to think of a solution on their own” (p. 56). I tend to agree that this forced-choice, fill-in-the-bubble culture, which tends to reward students who sit still, are quiet, and listen while penalizing those who take risks, challenge, and question, is driving the independence and initiative from America’s youth.
Gustave Flaubert is credited with stating, “You don’t make art out of good intentions.” Miranda’s book not only chronicles the physics of “good intentions” inertia but also provides creative motivation and suggested solutions to overcome our personal creative inhibitions. “We all have the ability to do something, even if it’s just a small something” (p. 23). Those small somethings over time will accumulate. The sum of those small somethings will eventually enable us to overcome our self-imposed inertia and inhibitions.
All too often in our lives we focus on the prize – the proverbial brass ring – without taking the time to consider the underlying work, devotion, practice, failure, and sacrifice required to produce it. We tend to want to skip the process in favor of the product. This book addresses the need to not only attempt the process but also experience it to the fullest extent possible, wallow in it, and embrace it because the process can be art in and of itself. If we circumvent the process, we are, in essence, cheating ourselves. Putting ideas to paper, fingers to keyboard, brush to paint, voice to microphone time and time again as an act of creation is a small something…it is real…it is art.
By the way…Miranda, this blog is my small something.
Don’t Make Art, Just Make Something: The Process, Struggle, and Vital Importance of Getting Started is available in paperback and e-book versions (ISBN: 978-0-615-82036-1). There is a companion website to the book with an opportunity for readers to submit pictures of their own “somethings” and share project ideas.
Miranda also has a blog where she shares a new idea every weekday. Feel free to peruse The Idea Blog and gather ideas for your first “small something”.
If you would like to know more about the Early College options at Mary Baldwin College like the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) that Miranda attended visit the website or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I am always eager to engage in new conversations. Feel free to leave a comment on any of my pages or send me an e-mail at email@example.com. All the best. ~Stephanie