Author Talk with Austin Kleon

A couple days ago, I had the opportunity to watch a conversation between Austin Kleon and Jessica Abel live.

Here are some of my key take-aways from what Kleon had to say:

    • “I’m a student who never went back to school.”
    • “The only way I can [write] these books is ask what I’m trying to figure out. They’re selfish.”
    • Everything that’s good for kids is good for you… Space, time, books, fresh air and walks.
    • Stop asking direct questions to find the answer, just figure it out.
    • “You’re just a mashup of what you let into your life.”
    • Every writer should work in a books store or a library to be forced to think about the reader.
    • Kids aren’t afraid of a blank page, because they have no expectations of themselves. And they’ve got some incredible confidence. 

One thing I’d love to do once the world returns that I’ve never done before is go see authors speak in person. I never really recognized books tours as something I’d be interested in, but I’m certainly interested now.

Interesting people are people with interests

In March of 2020, right at the start of the Covid-19 U.S. quarantine, a playwright named Lauren Gunderson put on a series of playwrighting masterclasses, hosted live on her Facebook page. I gleaned many journal pages worth of information through those livestreams. One of the things that really stuck with me – like an arrow in my skull – was the adage “Interesting people are people with interests.” Gunderson said this was something her Grandmother would often tell her.

She talked about it in the context of creating fictional character – maybe her Grandmother simply referenced it in discussing the neighbor down the block who created large metal statues from scraps in their front lawn, who knows. Characters with interests are characters who interest.

Austin Kleon wrote on the same subject in 2017, though flipping the perspective from fictional characters to the authors wrote them into being. He bring in several quotes from other thinkers and authors on the topic of being interesting, but my favorite has to be advice J. Maureen Henderson gave to students in an article she wrote:

Work on being an interesting person other people want to be around and are willing to open doors for…. There are many roads to becoming an interesting person, but they all involve developing your curiosity and your desire to know and understand — yourself, others, the world around you. You can read. You can pursue a new activity like knitting or rock climbing. You can volunteer. You can commit to asking three people a day an open-ended question about themselves and really listening to their responses. You can share your information and connections freely.

It’s not just that interesting people happen to like interesting things. Rather, their interest in the world leads them to interesting things, which makes them an interesting person.
Austin Kleon sums up my thoughts better than I can by saying this:

If you want followers, be someone worth following. [“Have you tried making yourself more interesting?”] seems like a really mean thing to say, unless you think of the word interesting the way writer Lawrence Weschler does: For him, to be “interest-ing” is to be curious and attentive, and to practice “the continual projection of interest.” To put it more simply: If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.

Interesting follows interest.

the Social Dilemma

Netflix released a documentary called the Social Dilemma – discussing and demonstrating the dangers of social media on the future of youth, mental health, wellness, politics and the human race
It was incredibly impactful, and I can only recommend you watch it on your own – it is valuable time spent.

While I was watching, I decided to sketch out notes from the film to keep as a record. I made a little zine. Here is that zine.

Hey that’s it my dudes.

Another Something

In the midst of a transitioning season – a month into living and working in Milwaukee once again – I’ve decided to start yet another something.

I often have many somethings. Currently, this blog, which I will be writing daily for the foreseeable future, is my 4th or 5th thing.

I work as the graphic designer for an education start-up in MKE. I work as an animator and consultant for a YouTube channel in LA called Colin and Samir. I create a monthly newsletter-zine called the Pigeon, I design elements for the companies of two siblings, I am currently in the middle of illustrating a book, with discussions of another right around the corner.

Through all of this, though, I have felt unsatisfied with the lack of personal creative projects… Writings, podcasts, art – I have not found a groove of creating work for myself in a little while, and I’m hoping this virtual wall on to which I can tape my typed notebook pages of musings will help to kickstart the satisfaction of personal creativity once again.

Hopefully. Maybe not. I’ll be sharing here, feel free to follow along.

Seth Godin talks about daily blogging as well. Here is a quote from Godin in this podcast, that I found in this blog.

“Everyone should write a blog, every day, even if no one reads it. There’s countless reasons why it’s a good idea and I can’t think of one reason it’s a bad idea.”
“If you know you have to write a blog post tomorrow, something in writing, something that will be around 6 months from now, about something in the world, you will start looking for something in the world to to write about. You will seek to notice something interesting and to say something creative about it. Well, isn’t that all we’re looking for? The best practice of generously sharing what you notice about the world is exactly the antidote for your fear.”

The biggest inspiration for this new collection of work I’ll be building is Austin Kleon. Go, now, read his books and blog – he’s great.