jimvanpelt (jimvanpelt) wrote,

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Psychotic Persistence (which ought to be copyrighted to Jay Lake)

Here's my blog post for the district for the week.  My audience for this is high school teachers in the district, so they don't know some of the references that readers here will be familiar with.  For example, the video I "stumbled" on was pointed out by John Scalzi, and the phrase, "psychotic persistence" is one frequently used by uber-writer, Jay Lake.  By the way, the best news I've seen on the web today or for many days, is that Jay reports his latest CT scan is clear.  No sign of cancer.  As he points out in a later post, that doesn't mean he's cured, but it's certainly welcome news. 

The blog was a short one that I called "Psychotic Persistence":

I stumbled upon a cute music video called "In Your Arms," by Internet sensation, Kina Grannis, the other day.  Because I'm addicted to related links, I also watched "The Making of In Your Arms".  Oh, my, gosh!!!  It took two years to make the video!

You should watch them both.  Go on.  I'll wait.

A good writer friend of mine, Jay Lake, who has been publishing like a mad man for several years now, says that the secret to success in the creative arts is "psychotic persistence."  I don't think most kids (or people) get that.  They want success quickly.  The Kina Grannis video only takes three minutes to watch.  People don't see or realize the two-year effort that went into making it.

My excellent artist friend and amazing retired teacher from Junction High, Gary Hauschulz, told me that the average stop in front of a painting at an art museum is seven seconds.  That's a sobering amount of time when you think how long some of those pieces must have taken to create.

I listened to an acquiring editor at a major publishing house talking to a group of writers once.  He said that he'd fallen behind in reading the slush pile (novel manuscripts that people sent with the hopes he would buy them).  He had a stack of twenty-five novel manuscripts on his desk.  Since a novel manuscript is often as thick as a ream of paper, that must have been quite the stack!  He looked at, evaluated and rejected all twenty-five in twenty-two minutes.  Since the novel I'd just finished took me four years to write, this was a universe-realigning piece of information.

Maybe one of the most important lessons we can teach kids is the value of continuous, applied effort.  Nothing of creative worth appears to be possible without it.

P.S.  I was thinking about where in the schools we teach "psychotic persistence," and I think it's mostly in sports (entire seasons devoted to one magnificent effort at the end), Newspaper, Yearbook, Student Senate, the music classes, and in art.  All of those classes ask students to apply continuous effort over time to achieve a project or performance that can be appreciated in much less time than it took to create it.  Of course, I just listed the classes and programs most likely to be cut during a budget crisis, like the one we're in now.

Tags: life, teaching, writing
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