Is There Anything New Under The Sun?

Is There Anything New Under The Sun?

posted in: Essays | 12

“It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.” ~Jean-Luc Godard

Embarking on this creative journey in my 50s used to terrify me. To make up for my lack of youth, I felt I had to ooze originality.

Then I launched my first book into the cosmos and got this two-star reply: “First class ideas let down by horrible, repetitive prose.”

I spent nights staring at that cryptic message. Once I face-palmed on the keyboard, upsetting the cat who upset the wine, and found insight in the creeping puddle of Côtes du Roussillon:

I believe in Later Bloomer. This project. All of us. And nothing is worth the waste of good wine!

Animator Nina Paley believes human culture evolves through “making tiny transformations (sometimes called ‘errors’ ) with each replication.” {Tweet}

This is where art imitates life — we discover our uniquity through mutation, tiny errors in replication. It’s not our job to ooze originality. If you believe Jim Jarmusch, nothing is original.

Is my prose repetitive? Probably. But I’m still in process. I’m sometimes frustrated by how long these tiny changes take, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a whole new creation (book, artwork, life form) on the other side.

So don’t be afraid to pick up that pen, that brush, that lump of clay. It’s okay if you need to copy or repeat at first. Shake it like the dancer in front of you. Blow it upBelieve in conscious evolution.

Mutation leads to uniquity and uniquity leads to art, as this stunning two-minute clip by Nina Paley illustrates (and although Nina asks us to question copyright, she doesn’t mean individual expression).

Journal Question:
Do you see a connection between mutation and uniquity?

The Declaration of YouWith thanks to Jessica Swift and Michelle Ward, who introduced me to the concept of uniquity through their book, The Declaration of You, which will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer.

The Declaration of You is a hands-on guide that helps readers discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do.

This post is part of The Declaration of You BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. Learn more by clicking here.

12 Responses

  1. Patricia
    | Reply

    Good for you for not giving up! When we give up we lose.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Debra Eve

      Thanks so much, Patricia! There’s always a chance we’re putting ourselves out there too early, but I still think it’s better to leap than not.

  2. florence fois
    | Reply

    Debra, I believe that as long as I am breathing, I will be pursuing my dreams … because whatever they might be … they are the me I wanted so long ago. And good for me that I lived long enough to know that 🙂

    YOu keep truckin’ !!

    • Debra Eve

      Exactly, Florence. My greatest joy in life, other than writing, is learning new things. Every criticism presents that possibility.

  3. Daniela
    | Reply

    Condolences on the two-star review of your book, Debra Eve. And kudos. Yes, kudos. Note that your reviewer FIRST affirms you, THEN delivers the bad news. This is a discerning reader. There aren’t many. By bemoaning that your writing doesn’t match your content, s/he has given you one of those beware-of-what-you-wish-for gifts. Sucks, doesn’t it?

    Buy this book: “Several short sentences about writing,” by Verlyn Klinkenborg. It’s an amazing book, the best I’ve read on the actual process of writing. (And I’ve read many many many.) Read it for what it has to teach, of course. It is densely nutritious. But read it for pleasure too, for it is delicious. It up-ended what I thought writing is, and affirmed it, both. Klinkenborg shows The Way. The book left me awed, like the Tao Te Ching (The Way) by Lao Tzu: OMG-nothing-is-as-I-thought-thank-god.

    These are the first six lines of the book:
    “Here, in short, is what I want to tell you.
    Know what each sentence says,
    What it doesn’t say,
    And what it implies.
    Of these, the hardest is knowing what each sentence
    actually says.”

    On page 47:
    “The writer’s job isn’t accepting sentences.
    The job is making them, word by word.”

    Write on, my friend. Write on!

    • Debra Eve

      Thank you, Daniela! Just bought “Several Short Sentences” on your excellent recommendation. I’m currently reading “Stein on Writing,” another classic that I somehow missed. And yes, I’m very much aware my critic has done me a huge favor.

  4. Chris Edgar
    | Reply

    Hi Debra — this is an issue that I’ve definitely grappled with as well, and it’s interesting for me to consider the question of what I’m really worried about — if someone tells me “oh, I’ve heard all of this before — how boring,” what will that really do to me? I mean, putting aside all the intellectualizing about whether the criticism is legitimate, and so on, will it harm my body? Keeping that in mind, for me, puts my anxieties around creativity in some degree of perspective.

    • Debra Eve

      Chris, you’re working on the most unique project I’ve encountered recently! And yes, in essence it has been done before, but not with the spin or great story line you’ve created. I love your wisdom of checking in with the body when these things happened and will definitely do that in the future…it’ll definitely stave off some health problems. Thanks for that unique perspective!

  5. Karen McFarland
    | Reply

    I love this Debra! Uniquity, the state of being unique. If we think about it, even though we may all have a lot in common, aren’t we all unique? That’s what is so intriguing about each one of us. That’s what draws us to each other as individuals. Life would be so boring if not for uniquity. And you are unique in your own way! Though I will say that we share similar fears with our writing. I don’t know about you, but I live in perpetual torment. Who knew in my later years that I would subject myself to this? Well said my dear friend and I wish you all the best with your writing endeavors. You’re going to do very well! 🙂

    • Debra Eve

      Thank you, Karen. I’ve beat myself up trying to be completely original, but being unique is something different altogether. We’re unique by just being ourselves. I love your blog and your take on things, and look forward to whatever you bring into the world!

  6. Kate MacNicol
    | Reply

    Uniquity. I just learned a new word and I’m totally in love with it. Thank you Debra.
    This is a powerful post. I don’t think you’ve lost it all. I think you won. Way to go for keeping on doing what you love in the face of a tough criticism. This is one of my greatest fears and seeing you figure it out in your own way gives me hope that I too will be able to face down the criticisms that will surely come my way. Thanks for reminding me that the journey is about learning and growing. Thanks for the great resources, I’m off to check out The Declaration of You.

    • Debra Eve

      Thanks, Kate! It’s easy to forget that, though there may be nothing new under the sun, our spin on anything brings it into the realms of uniquity. I think you’ll enjoy Declaration of You. I have a big weakness for artsy workbooks!

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