a thank you, and a manifesto of your own


I spoke to the Northampton Modern Quilt Guild yesterday, and it was lovely. I was originally contacted to talk about Surface Design, but since it seemed like the definition of surface design is so broad as to be functionally useless, I wound up talking about my path to … whatever it is I do. The members were delightful; appreciative, attentive and with good questions.

Towards the end of my allotted time, I talked about various creativity manifestos that had inspired me to keep working. I went looking for them today, and found so many I couldn’t tell which ones had been important to me at the time and which ones had been only so much noise. Of course, after reading more than two or three of them, they all turn into more or less noise. It looks like many of them are more about exhorting the writer themselves to  better working and thinking habits, and then they were published because publishing on the internet is nearly frictionless.

So I made my own manifesto:

  1. quantity first, sift for quality later
  2. lean into the stuff that pleases you
  3. “if you love something, do it again. if you hate something, do it again” (I can’t remember whose manifesto this came from, but it has been extremely useful.)
  4. leave the stuff that leaves you unmoved
  5. figure out what drives you, and follow it*
  6. do not worry about what to do with the results from your process, something will become clear

*This is where I say something about following your bliss or finding your passion except I am a reserved New Englander and I am deeply dubious about both of those as motivating forces. I find I do some of my most interesting and useful work when I am pissed off about something. I work well from aggravation. I know this, and can follow it. Know what emotions drive your strongest work, and see where they take you.

So? What does your manifesto say? Should you edit it?

3 thoughts on “a thank you, and a manifesto of your own

  1. ben shahn (i know i’ve misspelled his name) wrote, “paint and paint and draw and draw.” yep. keep making.


  2. Lee! My favorite writing instructor, Peter Elbow, says you have to write a lot of garbage before you get the good stuff. Love your list of manifestos and your reserve regarding ‘bliss’…..

    Sent from my iPad Elaine


  3. Good thoughts, especially about Bliss… Finding my way is difficult but learning to do what pleases me rather than what pleases everyone else… good work will happen I think, eventually.


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