Practical Magic

Let me tell you something
I’ve met men in jail who had more style
than the people who hang around colleges
and go to poetry readings
They’re bloodsuckers who come to see
if the poet’s socks are dirty
or if he smells under the arms
Believe me I won’t disappoint em

-Raymond Carver, “You Don’t Know What Love Is (An Evening with Charles Bukowski)”

I did not to a poetry reading last Friday night, but I did go to a Paint Off–an annual fundraiser featuring local artists who had one hour to create artpiece which would be auctioned off to benefit a local summer festival.

I wasn’t the only one gawking at them and taking pictures, and I admit going with some romanticized delusion about watching a piece of art being conjured out of thin air from nothing but the Muse’s direction.  I’m willing to bet I wasn’t the only one doing that, either. Then I gave the matter a second’s thought and I finally realized that these weren’t “artistes” whose socks were dirty or who smell under the arms. They were artists who were working.

I saw people with their sleeves rolled up, sweating, scrambling, and getting their hands dirty.  I saw noses put to the grindstone. 

This is the real magic of art to me, whether it’s painting, sculpting, music–or even writing.  This is the level of professionalism I want to attain. 

This inspires me.


5 thoughts on “Practical Magic”

  1. I love being challenged like that. Whether it's public speaking, storytelling, or writing, I love when somebody says, "You have X amount of time in which to do this," and they give me a writing or speaking challenge.

    Being able to think fast and do what you do just like that, even if it's not the best it would be with more time, helps so much on those days when you sit down to write and think, "I'm not into this today."

    It's a bit easier when you know you can drop something at least first-draft decent just like that.

  2. Get down and dirty and do it till it hurts, I say. It's how you respond to challenges that proves your mettle. External motivators are always welcome;I've done some of my best work under time crunches.

  3. @Lisa: Thanks!

    @Christopher & Simon: My problem with challenges is that I respond one of two ways–overzealousness or shutting down completely. But I'm working on it. I'd love to be able to pull stunts like Harlan Ellison, writing stories in bookstore windows.

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