My favourite author almost killed himself when he was the age that I am now.
24 years old, teetering on a literal edge and contemplating his own mortality. He was living in Ibiza at the time, on the quiet east coast of the island, and he was suffering from depression. That’s how he found himself stood on the cliff’s edge overlooking the coastline, thinking about dying. The view would have been beautiful were he able to see it through the veil of his own darkness. But he didn’t jump. He didn’t die. Instead, he walked back home and threw up.
ShantyTok might sound like your conventional KonMari or Pomodoro technique, but make no mistake: this is a completely different beast.
For starters, it comes from TikTok, the social media that can’t pick a lane: pre-teen dance choreographies, life-threatening challenges — anything can go viral there. Including the forgotten genre of sea shanties, when an ensemble of talented singers spontaneously gathered and sang along. ShantyTok was born.
And isn’t that the seamless, creative flow we are trying to get at when managing our own work?
Except management is not exactly what we should look for — what we really need is…
First, let’s get out of this clickbait alley I’ve cornered myself into.
The pixelated man standing in the collage, pulling off the classic intriguing faraway look of fiction writers, is Vikram Seth. He turned an uninspired 100-page novel into a world-renowned, best-selling behemoth of 1349 pages: A Suitable Boy.
That’s a 1249% increase in creative output — but don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I like to crunch the numbers and go full “day trader” when it comes to creativity, my eight computer screens covered in stock charts and jagged lines with cryptic metrics.
But just this once, it…
The guys made millions of bucks on it and never said, ‘Thank you,’ never said, ‘Can we pay you some money for it?’
That was said by Randy Wolfe, a guitarist you’ve never heard of, former member of Spirit, a band you didn’t know about, that composed a guitar riff you 100% would recognise.
It was in his song Taurus, a name that won’t ring any bells, because you’ve heard the riff under the credit of a different band, and a different song.
Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven.
Now, if someone has to be deemed the “person most damaged by…
In Boston town
of old renown
the gentle cows
the pathways made
Which grew to streets that keep the stranger quite dismayed.
I tip my hat to Boston’s Office of Travel and Tourism; that was a smart move.
Boston’s roads are known for being unnecessarily convoluted and nonsensical. So they stamped that poem into a postcard — “cows made the roads; we just paved over them” — and turned an otherwise topographic inconvenient into a touristic feature.
What’s even more brilliant: that’s a compelling alibi. Cows like to traverse the grass through the same paths, making natural walkways. …
“Fuck it, I’m doing it.”
“Doing what?” His pal asked him. There was a pause, slick with electric anticipation as Gaudí’s grin swamped his entire face. Then the realisation struck. “Oh no.”
“Oh yes,” Gaudí said, “I’m doing it.”
And then? He did.
Antoni Gaudí began building La Sagrada Familia in 1882. You know the one; that breathtaking basilica, all towers and spires, brimming with intricate geometry and detailed architectural design. It’s gorgeous.
And it’s unfinished.
138 years it’s been under construction — and it will be for another six years to come. That’s a century-long project underway even now…
Rainforests have an immediately recognizable surface: the vast, majestic blanket of treetops.
But venture below, stare at the inner bio-machinery that runs them so smoothly, and you’ll understand why we have the pressing need of getting Walt Disney out of the freezer to put sir David Attenborough in there instead.
Because one lifetime won’t be enough for him to explain to us every one of the interconnected, complex relationships that power up the ecosystem (and also because I’m too far into my Attenborough fandom to accept a voiceover replacement).
From the surface, they are simple and eye-catching; familiar even. But…