Learning to be creative means that you might stink for a while. And, if you aren’t willing to revel in your suckage (an indelicate phrase I coined a few years ago), you are going to get frustrated and quit your creative pursuit before the journey begins. You’d better have a natural love for your craft, a fascination that lets you get past the frustration and leads you into being receptive to overcoming your pain.

I think, to some degree, this may be more of a male ego problem, you know we don’t ask for directions, don’t read directions, and don’t take directions. So, it requires a particular alignment of the stars for us to take a class, buy an instructional DVD, or even watch a YouTube that might help us improve at something, even something we’d like to do well. Our ego tells us we don’t need no stinking help, we are already smart.

I’m a former poster boy for knowing it all, and it has taken all kinds of restraint to fight through the roadblocks my ego puts in front of me when it comes to putting new information into this thickhead. For about a year now, my wife and I have been taking ballroom dance lessons, just because we decided to. I don’t know where all this ballroom dance happens, its not like flash mobs of ballroom dancers break out in the middle of the Foodtruck Roundup on the fourth Friday in Windermere, its not like a Viennese Waltz is going to happen in the middle of the Margaritaville Restaurant among all the tourists, but there you have it, we are learning to dance. And Teresa and my patient teacher, Michael Dean, have watched me fight the ego driven demons that resist all attempts to teach me to place one foot in front of the other, always beginning with the left foot. I not only had to learn to dance, I had to learn to LEARN how to dance.  I had to be willing to get it wrong, in front of the woman I love and a really, really good dancer. That was hard, this ignoring the fight or flight response and getting to a place where my ego would shut up for a little while. Thank God they were patient and now I can dance, a little. I still have a LONG way to go.

The first step in getting better is admitting that you need help. I’ve been writing, daily, for almost a dozen years now and my work is a lot better than it used to be, its taken a lot of work. On the other hand, I’ve been playing guitar for about 6 years and my playing is not a lot better than it used to be. There is something to be said for natural ability and my old catcher’s crooked fingers will never be able to keep up with Eric Clapton’s. But I am happy for any noise I can get to come out of my instrument, and, once in a while I can break through the caterwauling to make a few sounds that sound something like music and I am pleased. Those moments make the suckage worth it.

To me, the goal of any creative pursuit is to get to a point where you are so engaged that your very soul is pouring itself out through your work. That doesn’t happen until you acquire a certain amount of muscle memory, knowledge, and skill. When you get there you aren’t thinking of technique at all, instead, you are in a zone that athletes, religious zealots, and tantric sex practitioners strive for, to be completely lost and absorbed in that moment of creativity and passion. I had a glimpse of it in dance last night, by chance Michael played one of our OLD favorite songs and for a few minutes it clicked and we just danced, no counting, no stopping to get something right. It was what academics might call a Peak moment and it only took a year to get there. But it was worth it.

I have a plan to hire a guitar teacher at the first of next year (I have a very busy fall schedule) and endure the pain that will be required to break through to the next level of guitar virtuosity, I’m willing to endure more suckage and stiff fingers. I hope I find someone as patient as Michael to teach me. Getting to that place where the creative passion spills out is maybe my favorite thing in life, and I hope everyone finds their creative outlet.

Don’t worry if your work isn’t up to your ego’s high standards, do it anyway. Eventually, it will be so worth it.


Oh yea, this was us:



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