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The Aesthetic of Your Journey, Creative

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Holidays are all about tradition, and I plan to start a new one by making a cynical humorous annual post about overused words.

This list is based on my own opinion, and unlike the generalized lists that creep out on the internet this time of year, it is mostly targeted at “creatives”.

So without further ado, our first overused word.

 

“Creative”

adjective
  1. having the quality or power of creating.
  2. resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.; imaginative:creative writing.
  3. originative; productive (usually followed by of).

Folks, it’s an adjective. Not a noun.

The number of times in 2018 I have heard people refer to one another and themselves as “creatives” is maddening.

I’ve been writing for a long time, and hanging out with writers and other artsy types for nearly as long. So I know we like to play with words, “expand the lexicon”, and sound all flowery and pretentious on occasion. What’s the point in being an artist if you can’t get pretentious and drink expensive coffee once in a while. Right?

While that’s all well and good, I feel like writers have a responsibility to uphold the “correct” traditional use of language (grammar and syntax) whilst the internet attempts to dismantle it on an hourly basis. I’m looking at you Twitter!

OK, traditionalist diatribe over.

The real reason this word is such a thorn in my paw is that it has been insidiously co-opted. The next time you’re reading a site or listening to a podcast where someone calls you a “creative”, their compliment is usually followed by an offer of some sort. Like when everyone became an “entrepreneur” back in 2015.

If you’re a creative, you might like my ONLINE COURSE/BOOK/SERVICE.  

Yuck. Get your marketing out of my art. Let me be a CREATIVE!

 

“Aesthetic”

adjective
  1. relating to the philosophy of aestheticsconcerned with notions such as the beautiful and the ugly.
  2. relating to the science of aesthetics; concerned with the study of the mind and emotions in relation tothe sense of beauty.
  3. having sense of the beautiful; characterized by a love of beauty.

Another adjective being turned into a noun. Sorta like when “Google” became a verb.

“It has an aesthetic.”  /   “My brand’s aesthetic.”  /  “Your aesthetic is beautiful.”

Not as brutally irritating as “Creative” but nonetheless, “aesthetic” is so overused at this point it is starting to lose its original meaning.

Plus, there are so many other less fun-to-say words you can use instead. “Look”, “style”, “feel”. These don’t have the SAT-word quality of “aesthetic”, but they are still valid.

 

“Journey”

noun, plural jour·neys.
  1. traveling from one place to another, usually taking rather long time; trip:six-day journey across the desert.
  2. distance, course, or area traveled or suitable for traveling:desert journey.
  3. period of travel:week’s journey.

Hoo boy, this one…

So nothing grammatically incorrect about this one, and everybody loves that old axiom about “it’s the journey, not the destination…” Thanks Emerson.

In 2018 we are apparently ALL on a journey. You’re not just dabbling in a hobby. If you buy that beginner’s watercolor set at A.C. Moore, you’ve taken the first step on a grandiose adventure of personal evolution.

I felt pretentious just typing that last sentence.

If there is one thing I implore you to do in 2019, stop referring to making art as a “journey”. Besides the inherent self-important tone of it, it implies this kind of fluffy, overly positive, unicorns-in-the-meadow connotation to what art really is. Work.

Creating art is challenging, difficult, time consuming, and at times, painful. I’m sure I’m coming off as a real jerk when I say this, but I think overuse of the word “journey” (I’m looking at you, Youtube!) gives people the misimpression that these processes are a loose and breezy thing you can just pick up and put down while still getting better at.

Is it technically wrong? No. But I just feel like it’s simultaneously misleading and pretentious. Just my opinion. This is an opinion piece, remember?

In Conclusion

That’s my overly sarcastic list of Overly Used Words 2018. Are there any words or phrases all you “creatives” out there have grown to hate this year? Let me know down in the comments!

Merry Holidays and Happy 2019!

book review

Book Review: “Popsickle Heart” by J. Peter W.

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Popsickle Heart is bizarro fiction.

If you’re not familiar with the genre, here is Wikipedia’s definition. It’s important to grasp what bizarro is to give you a frame of reference for this review.

I’ve read numerous bizarro books and stories, and some of my own work has even been classified as “bizarro” by editors. I had seen some buzz about Popsickle Heart on Twitter and decided to check it out. While not without problems, I enjoyed the book.

Like most bizarro books, I’d classify Popsickle Heart as a novella. It’s brief and can be finished in one or two sittings. I enjoy novellas because they tend to strip away a lot of the extra fluff and get right to the point, which is especially important when you’re dealing with strange subject matter. So if you dig short reads, that is already a bonus.

Popsickle Heart is a story about Edgar the clown. He meets a girl, The Wheelchair Spot, and immediately falls for her. When he finds out she has lost her heart, Edgar undertakes a quest to retrieve it. Weirdness ensues.

The surreal suburban/carnival fantasy that J. Peter W. lays out is wonderful. Edgar drives a crappy old ice cream truck, with perpetually peeling paint, around a town full of skinless and eyeless people. Children torment him, demanding ice cream from a van with empty freezers. His home has been assaulted by some kind of weird ooze and a bunch of cigarette smoking toughs that have been hired to box up and move all his belongings with seemingly no explanation. Even his candy peg-legged neighbor Rod doesn’t know anything about it.

Along for this insane ride is Edgar’s sock puppet, Lumbee. Easily my favorite part of the book, Lumbee is a brilliant character. He is angry, brash, and well personified. The dialogue between Edgar and Lumbee is great, and you often forget it is a crazy clown talking to himself…or is it?

Edgar and Lumbee find themselves transported into a parallel dimension of sorts, the Carn-Evil, where cardboard clown cut outs and statue people wage war against each other over cupcake eyeballs. Yes, you just read that correctly.

He meets a mysterious Pink Woman who will lead him further into this realm of strangeness, and ultimately to what he seeks.

I don’t want to go into more plot detail as it would spoil what is a fairly short book, so lets talk a little bit about mechanics.

J. Peter W. does a solid job with characterization in just a few pages. Edgar, Lumbee, and Rod are standouts that probably get the most detail. Some of the other characters a a bit flat, literally and figuratively. His prose is great, and often poetic in some free-flowing sentences. However, I had one major gripe. He repeatedly ended a number of paragraphs with similes and metaphors. Some of the worked, while others were just way too strange and nonsensical, and seemed “weird for the sake of weird” which pulled me out of the story.

I will recommend Popsickle Heart to anyone who enjoys bizarro fiction, or absurdist/surrealist works. It is a quick and fun read, and the relationship between Edgar and Lumbee elevate it beyond its flaws.

What I Liked:

  •  The strange plot, juxtaposing banal suburbs with an insane carnival
  • The existential horror of eyeless children demanding ice cream
  • Lumbee

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Repeated similes and metaphors that fell flat
  • Some characters needed to be fleshed out just a little more
  • The book could have been about 20 pages longer and explored more of the Carn-Evil