Confession: I like to steal things. I have been stealing for years actually, but more recently I discovered ways to do it on a regular basis. Now I just want to get caught in the act.
As I co-create the life I want and assemble my work, I must acknowledge the many teachers who are helping me on my path. These teachers happily let me steal from them. According to Austin Kleon, New York Times Best-selling author of “Steal Like an Artist”, it is what every great artist does.
As I carve out my path toward making better art, I must be a selective yet voracious consumer and steal often. According to Kleon, there is a right and wrong way to go about stealing from others.
About a month ago I found a new target to take things from. I discovered and fell in love with a brilliant PBS Idea channel show featured on YouTube and Tumblr called “The Art Assignment“. The show introduces us to a diverse set of artist, who share their work and then assign us some “homework” based on that work. The nerd in me felt an immediate connection!!! The program encourages us to do the good kind of stealing. The assignments helped me connect the dots between a short story I wrote last year in February and a book I read during January of this year. Ransom Riggs‘ book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar children, uses old found “peculiar” photographs to shape his story. He creates characters with each photo and allows the images to dictate the narrative. The photos are eerie, and the story he crafts is brilliant. But how are those two things related? What do they have to do with stealing and getting caught? I’m glad you asked. You see Austin Kleon wrote another helpful book titled “Show Your Work”. He wrote it entirely for me. Oh, I suppose others can benefit from it too, but I know he must’ve had me in mind when he wrote it. Embarrassingly though, he misspelled my name in the book dedication; he spelled it M.E.G.A.N. instead of B.R.Y.A.N.D.A. I’ll make sure that gets fixed before the next printing. *wink* With his follow-up book, I am learning that it is not enough to steal, I must get caught! I must show my work!
It makes me feel nervous and vulnerable to share my old writing, even from just a year ago, but I am not afraid to admit that I am imperfect. This blog is supposed to be about process not perfection, so what better way to face my fears and document my progress than to share my old stuff: completed, imperfect, and sometimes maybe terrible?
Inspired by Art Assignment, I have a “Writing Assignment” for you:
- Find a random photo that interest you, hopefully one that makes you curious, that is an open-ended question
- Answer the questions by creating a story around it
- Get caught stealing- share your work and tag me (I’d love to read what you have written)
As I develop and grow as a writer, creative assignments like this one, help me practice my craft, and give me rich/vivid ideas about stories and plots I might have never thought of. I hope it does the same for you, in whatever medium you choose to create with.
If you’re interested, click here to read the story I wrote.
Go Get Caught Stealing,