Thursday, June 06, 2013

Loss, Theft, Damage Or Mysterious Disappearance

"Loss, theft, damage or mysterious disappearance." In the personal property world, that's what they call comprehensive coverage. I learned that when I bought insurance for my fiancee's engagement ring. Turns out, the most common claim filed by women who lose expensive jewelry is "mysterious disappearances." Such a great phrase. I imagine a committee of 1950's insurance executives sitting around a table, smoking heavily, trying to coin a term for this phenomenon. And then my wife said her wedding ring mysteriously disappeared. Johnson! That's it. You're a genius. That's what we'll title this claim. Mysterious disappearances.

"Maybe we just find a cold trail." It's the strangest phenomenon. You email back and forth. You chat on the phone. You meet in person. You send over a contract. Both parties are excited about the project, and it's so close to being real that you can almost taste it. Then a few days go by. Then a few weeks. Then a few months. And eventually, despite your greatest efforts, despite your certainty that this project was the one, it ... just ... goes away. No explanation. No follow up. No apology. It just goes away. And there's nothing you can do about it. In this instance, it helps to have zero expectations. For everything. Yes, you can have good intentions. But no expectations. The sooner we learn to accept these kinds of disappearances as inevitabilities of life, the happier we will be.

"If you cannot delude yourself into thinking your work is significant, find another career." It’s not about loving every part of the work, it’s about finding the small corner of the work that we can touch, making it perfect, and setting it free. Even if the client is annoying. Even if the project is stupid. Even if the brand is dying. We have to carve out morsels of meaning to keep us alive. Otherwise we'll never rebalance ourselves above the precipice of meaninglessness. Inspired by my favorite video series about the desktops of smart people.

"I'm in the business of writing books, not selling them." I heard a fiction author make this statement at a writer's conference, and it always stuck with me. When you're a kid and you want to become a writer, nobody ever tells you that writing is the easy part. It's not until you have fifty cases of books collecting dust on a palette in your storage locker when you suddenly realize, oh shit, now I actually have to sell these things. Then the real fun begins. Daily trips to the post office, schlepping boxes across town, shipping books to foreign countries and paying their retarded customs fees, dragging sample cases through the airport at midnight, stressful conversations with your printer because there's a typo on the back cover, friendly cockroaches nesting inside a case of books but not making themselves known until the client opens the box at their office, a septic tank flooding whereby four boxes of books drowned in a river of human excrement ... ah, memories. Good riddance.

"There was a tool I wanted to use that didn’t exist." Love this interview with David Karp from Tumblr. Proves my theory that art is wildly selfish. We make things for ourselves, that we want to use, that we want to see in the world. From apps to books to movies to albums, what we make is for the maker. And the irony is, the more personal the art, the more universal the appeal.