Process and Progress
You’ve heard it before; ideas are easy, execution is everything.
I’ve been creatively involved with media since I was 7 years old. I remember sitting in my dad’s house, writing in black and white marble composition notebooks; many of them. When one filled up, bloated like a garbage bag in the sun, I’d throw it in a drawer and get another. This cycle lasted all the way up to my first computer when I discovered word processors and the seemingly unlimited power they possessed. Screenplays, novels, essays, prose, book reports, love letters to my first-and-ex girlfriend Emily, everything. I had folders in folders and folders of folders in folders full of .rtf and .doc files; so many, that the sheer magnitude of them, I was oblivious to.
After years of using this turbo-modded Windows 2000 desktop, I was gifted my first portable computer in 2008; the illustrious BlackBook (for those of you too young to remember, it was the most coveted laptop in the Mac lineup.) That desktop tower sat, to this day, collecting dust in a farmhouse someplace in upstate New York, while I blazed through paragraphs with my new MacBook. All of those writings left to gradually disintegrate, bit-by-bit, in a 50GB on-board Harddrive.
I never wrote anything with the intention of sharing, not at the time; I wrote because I needed a way to deal with my reality. I had to resort to some type of therapy to keep my head from imploding. When you do something with the intention of making other people happy, you inadvertently drain your own happiness. It’s like leaving the garden hose turned on and flooding your tomato patch. Creativity should be treated like an organ; exercised, nourished, and appreciated — not exploited.
When I was 18, my mom got in touch with me about getting together for Christmas. I lived 5 hours north from her, so proper planning was necessary. We got on the subject of gifts and I’ll never forget when she told me the only thing she wanted (aside from seeing me) was some sort of physical representation of my writings. This made me think; I started wondering about the potential that all of my work had. I was inspired by my life and created this culmination of words, and now I was inspired to share them.
I didn’t want to do it the wrong way; yes, I could have printed them all out in landscape format in Word and bind them with staples, but my mom deserved better than that. I thought about it, and after some internet research, entertained the idea of going to a publisher. There was this huge collection of poetry I had written over the years, and it needed a good sorting-through, so I ended up getting about 50 or so together, contacted a few publishers, and sent the work over.
Saying I was surprised when they accepted my work wouldn’t be accurate; I knew it was good. Call me cocky, but writing was and is my gift. I believed in my talents and I did something with the intention of helping someone other than myself. I think the key to life is putting your focus on an object or objective outside of you, wholeheartedly listening and breathing in that situation. When you do that, you get out of your own metaphorical (and sometimes very literal) way.
The process of creating is one that must be done with selflessness. Being selfish tends to tint the content purple, distracting from the initial point. Know what you’re saying or doing, then say or do it. Don’t think about it; if you know how you feel, your communication will do it justice . This was the greatest lesson I learned from my friend and mentor James Price. Write with the intention of writing — of telling a story. Let the story be the motivation, not the publication of the story, or the monetary value attained by the story. There’s no heart in that.
Create by inspiration, share with inspiration.
The progress can only be measured by the process; if the process is weak and built on stilts, the progress will be hollow-hearted. All of those lost files on a Windows 2000 tower in upstate New York weren’t wasted; they were progress. They were the essential first steps of a life dedicated to the art of creating. They were never meant to be sold, distributed, or talked about (aside from now.)
Casey Neistat has some fantastic views on the world, and if you don’t know his work, I implore you to look more into his ideologies and lifestyle. He preaches about the difference between ideas and execution; how ideas are a dime-a-dozen and the importance of not telling, but showing. That’s what creation is. Everything is not meant to be shown, but the core of that statement is, if you want something, get it. If you feel something, feel it. See the world around you as one of inspiration, not limitation. Write everyday. Read everyday. Run everyday. DO SOMETHING every. day. because nothing is wasted; every action serves its purpose whether you’re aware of it or not.
Keep moving, keep creating. Don’t confuse the process with the progress, and most importantly: tell your story with the sole intention of telling it. After all, you’re the only you there’ll ever be, and who can do you better than you?
P.S. If anyone is interested in reading about the human I was up until 18, let me know. I didn’t want to post a link to my book because I’d rather just email you a .pdf of the publication for free.
Cody S.L. Calderon//2016