Thursday, March 31, 2011

Making a Delivery

With a venue for my Gallery Show booked I must now begin the preparations to ensure I can have prints available of all my work. I loaded up seven canvases onto the frame of a shopping trolley and braved the underground with them. I left at 6:30 in the morning, to ensure that the commuters (Of which I am one so I understand their potential for a grievance) were fewer.

I lugged them all to the office where I conduct the business of my day job, the day job which will be paying for the hefty fee of getting seven canvases imaged in one go, until 3:00pm when I could then take them by cab to Bethnal Green. Myself and the canvases arrived in one piece, managing the journey I'd been plotting and preparing for for about two weeks now. Oh to have a car and be in a city with an eighth of the population!

With my precious cargo safely in the hands of the skilled art photographer I was free to go. I return next week to gather then up and drop off the single one I managed to miss and then I will be able to offer prints, posters and all sort of other reproductions of my 22 Tarot Cards.

How very exciting!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Messing around on illustrator

I decided my banner could use a little make-over so this weekend I opened it in Illustrator and gave it a go. It still needs a bit of work but I'm quite pleased with the result after a weekend of just messing about to see what I could come up with.

The advantage I like most about having a vector graphic banner is that it's easy to make little changes. For example, at the moment I have my natural hair colour but I am terribly fond of blue hair. Or blue with a stripe of pink in it, perhaps. With a few clicks of the mouse the image can be changed to match the mood of my hair. Or say I take an earring out (Which I have done) or get a new tattoo (Which also needs adding), I can just delete something here and draw in a new layer there.

Besides that, it's just a really fun thing to play with. I can see why having a tablet is desirable when using a program like Illustrator. I've had brief encounters with tablets before. When working on my animation a few of my fellow animators used them for their projects. I found them quite baffling, having been raised with a mouse since a young age. The idea of using a pen-type object to control the cursor on the screen proved to be too difficult for me.

Since then I have come to realise that the tablet is meant to be representative of the screen itself. Unlike a mouse, which just scrolls and requires a few back and forth swishes to move the arrow from one side to the other, where the 'pen' is poised on the tablet is where it will land on the screen. For a program like illustrator, for an artist who prefers the solid, un-pixelated surface of a sketchbook, this is a perfect tool.

Still, for using just my mouse and what little knowledge I have of the program, I'm pleased with the current result. Should be quite useful as I begin plotting my plans for my upcoming gallery show.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Lesson

Today I had a lovely little natter with one of the recipients of the 48 books I was given to distribute for World Book Night. He was informing me that the book is now onto its third reader. I was happy to hear it and began wondering about the 46 other copies (I have kept one for myself) and the journeys they have been sent on.

When I learned about World Book Night and applied to be a giver, part of the process involved explaining how you would distribute your books. What clever means would you use to give out 48 of 1,000,000 books?

I decided to give my books on acts of kindness. I carried them with me and when I saw someone give up their seat on the tube, help carry a pram down some steps, stop to give directions - I'd give them a book. When someone did something kind, without thought for themselves, a book would be the unexpected reward. Unexpected because the act of kindness was unprovoked, done out of the simple, beautiful goodness we all possess.

I know how easy it is to get involved in your own crap. To feel caught up in the dramas of your personal situation to such an extent that the people around us seem insignificant or downright annoying.

Living in London, where space is limited and people can be ferociously protective of what little they feel entitled to, I thought my plan might be difficult as acts of kindness often seem few and far between. Granted, several of my books were shipped off to Canada for the sake of the 'World' aspect of the event, but more than half were distributed based on those acts of kindness. It took me a week and a half to give away 30 books. And I feel better for it. Not just because they're being passed on and perhaps being discovered by someone who will grow to love the book like no other they've read before, but because I spent the time giving them out looking for the goodness in people and finding it more and more. When you see someone stop, give their time, their attention, to a complete stranger without any expectation of reward, it makes you feel really good. Giving them a book, seeing the smile on their face - that was incredible.

Giving a free book to someone is giving them a smile.

Some people looked a little confused, but all of them smiled. One of them even jumped up and down with joy, having watched many of the programs in the lead up to the event. She squealed and said she'd been hoping someone would choose to give a book to her.

And I feel better for it. So much so that I'm a bit disappointed not to have more to give. I feel like giving lots of books away all the time. I'm going to have to start raiding my collection.

And if you've feeling in a rut, or feeling a bit down, go do something kind for a stranger or give away a book of your own. Tell me how it turns out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Not all that much to say

"I'm considering writing a blog entry that just says 'I seriously have nothing to write about at the moment' "

"How can that be so?" she said, eyebrow arched.

And yet it is. Here I am, sat and staring and trying to stick to my twelve entries in a month. In comparison to February, March seems to take forever to pass and yet, when it comes to getting my entries done, I feel there aren't enough days.
New business card design sample

It's not that nothing has been going on. Loads is going on. I booked a gallery space (Date to be announced in my april newsletter), worked on a new business card design, began preparing art descriptions, and have been plotting and planning marketing ideas and a potential re-build of my website.

But none of it feels particularly interesting to me. It's just stuff I gotta do to keep things moving so I'm doing it, getting on with it.

Like this blog entry being one towards my tally of twelve for the month. I gotta do it, even if I don't feel like I have anything in particular to write about at the moment.

Give it a day though, things are brewing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Rag Factory Apricot Gallery

I went to Brick Lane today, an area of London known for it's abundant selection of curry restaurants. The last time I'd come, which was also my first time, was over a year ago when I was in London on my 'toe dipping' adventure. It was already dark then and outside all the restaurants were employees, scooping people off the streets with tantalising descriptions of why their restaurant was the best on the very long lane.

Today I emerged from the tube at almost half four. The sun was warm and glorious all day but had retreated behind clouds. Still, the sky was lit up white and stark and the many choices for dining lay dormant, awaiting six pm, when most people would begin to leave their offices and wander in this direction for a curry and a beer.

I made my way along the bricked road, enjoying the feeling of old stone beneath my sneaker clad feet. I'd worn my rainbow shoes - a bit of my art to be worn for inspiration in light of my task.

Last week my search for a gallery came to an end. This trip today was the final step but my mind was already made up. As soon as I read the description and saw the price, as soon as a quick response came back to my few queries, I knew that I had found exactly what I was seeking.

Located just off of Brick Lane, only a short five minute walk from the Aldgate East Tube station, is The Rag Factory. This collection of galleries has a long history of being artist studios, belonging to the likes of Tracey Emin. In it's current incarnation it has been broken up into rehearsal space for theatre groups and art galleries for less financially able artists. It's central but affordable. I know I'd be hard pressed to find a Londoner who'd not heard of Brick Lane. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the lane is famous enough the world over to be recognisable in most countries.

I stepped past the iron gate of the Rag Factory into an enclosed courtyard with an open roof. A scruffy looking bloke sat on a bench, cigarette in hand. His fingernails were rough and cracked, as were his vintage leather boots. A thick mass of wild and woolly hair framed his face from the top of his head to the tip of his chin. I introduced myself, said I was there to meet someone and get a tour of a gallery space.

His eyes sparkled as he spoke, his voice full and rich. He spoke as only a master of the stage can, his words dramatised in their own wonderful way, "Ah, then you'd be here to see me."

The woman who arranged the meeting, with whom I had been emailing, was his sister. She lives in the Lake District and only occasionally comes to the Rag Factory. This is Silas's project, his baby, and he showed me to the Apricot Gallery with a sense of pride.

I let him know my mind was as good as made up. We discussed some of the technical aspects, the set-up, opportunities for marketing, that sort of thing. Then we went back out to the courtyard where one of his colleagues was taking a quick smoke break. Together the three of us had a nice natter about nothing of any particular import, enjoying the simple relaxation of a conversation amongst creatives and amateur philosophers. Eventually I bid them both farewell, thanking Silas and shaking his hand. I put great importance in a handshake, and his was firm, solid and confident.

I've just now sent off the email confirming that I will take the space for a gallery showing (Date to be announced) and now I must plot and plan and prepare. Now I must begin the real work, because all I have right now is a room full of potential.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

100 Months

Gruesome imagery has never really appealed to me. Not that I am ignorant to the unpleasant things in life, but I have always found drawings of mutilated bodies or demonic creatures to be about shock value. They're nightmare inducing and aversive to my eye.

But when I spotted '100 Months' one day whilst perusing the shelves of a bookstore, I was instantly captivated. The grotesque artwork had a poetic flow to it and I found myself turning the slick pages.

I was acutely aware of being watched by bookstore staff. I'm not one to browse without buying so I flipped the book over and choked a little at the price. It simply didn't suit my budget at the moment, but I knew I'd not forget the title and made a mental note to look it up and order it online when I got home.

Yesterday I took the overground from Vauxhall to Wimbledon, walked fifteen minutes in a classic London mizzle, and collected my package from the post office. I took it home, unwrapped it and resumed my slow examination of the pages within.

I've found several reviews of this book online, most of them about the controversial choice for the author to take his own life following the completion of it. Due to a diagnosis of MS he felt assisted suicide was the best option for him and this work was to be his final gift to the world.

But the one review which stands out the most to me was one which states that the writing in the work was described to be as much a part of the art as the drawings.

The words and imagery, dark and rich in texture, are set on stark white pages. The contrast of light and dark, red, black and white, is compelling. The flow of the art, of the creature/demon/goddess the story centres around is a wonder to gaze on. I was eager to study the images closer, to see the choice of medium. My initial guess when looking at the book in the shop had been gouache. I was trying not to study it too closely, however, so I rushed putting it back. My curiosity has now been satiated.

The entire thing is ink. From fine black ink lines to broad felt strokes for the almost grey pallor of skin. The red seems to be airbrushed, the speckles and sprays almost resembling spray paint. Studying the detail I am convinced that the original drawings must have been on a significantly larger scale. But how large? And on what surface?

I'm not yet done examining and reading this work. I'm savouring it, enjoying each page, the way one creature flows into another, every line seems to be connected and the words weave throughout. It is both fluid and sharp, jagged and liquid, brooding and inspirational. In a word, it is admirable.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dance you fools, dance! - Kait's Mixtape

When I was growing up I never thought I was particularly knowledgable about music. I felt like there were these people who just knew about songs - the people who'd written them, the instruments that were used and the influence they had - and people who didn't. I felt like I fell into this latter category because when asked I often couldn't recall a song title or musician and I owned very few cassettes or CDs.

My brother was a music person, as was my dad and to a large extent my mum, but I was not. I was apart because I couldn't tell you my favourite genre or artist. I knew I loved Paul Simon's 'Graceland' from my dad's tape collection and Sinead O'Connor's 'I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got' from my mum's tape collection. My parents own a turntable and taught me and my brother how to put on a record, lining up the needle to catch the vinyl grooves. We listened to the crackling albums of Queen, Manhattan Transfer, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd and of course, The Beatles.

But this was all their music and I didn't know the names and titles of artists and songs. I just knew that I love dancing and when certain songs came on I couldn't help but move my feet. I would put on Simon and Garfunkle's 'Cecelia' and clap and stamp around the living room. I worked out an entire routine to 'Missing' by Everything But The Girl. My entire family would get in on it when my dad put on 'Don't Fence Me In' as done by David Byrne.

As the years passed and I started junior high and then high school, I began to discover my own music. I soon realised that there wasn't any particular genre which took my fancy. My basis for loving a song was on how much it inspired me to move my body. With headphones on I soon established a soundtrack to my activities. I loved a solid beat to accompany my feet when I was walking, a quick rhythm to match the spinning of my tires when I went cycling, and a lightness of lyrics for when I sat on a swing, kicking my feet into the air.

But the joy and freedom of dancing became a thing reserved for my living room, and usually when I was alone in the house. I no longer felt comfortable dancing in front of anyone. The awkwardness of junior high and the rules of high school forbid it. It wasn't until I moved to an alternative high school that I began to realise that I was not doing something I loved because of what other people might think. At eighteen and nineteen I discovered the joys of the gay bar and the glorious selection of dance music to be found there, but even then, I had to be at least tipsy to touch the dance floor.

I was aware of this, however, and it led me to consider what it meant.

As a child one of my favourite sayings was 'Dance like no one is watching.' I didn't grasp its meaning entirely but as a kid I thought it was a good saying made of solid stuff and worth repeating. I danced because I liked it and I didn't get why anyone watching should or would make a difference. The indifference and cruelty of my junior high school experience made me see that I wasn't right. My hair wasn't right, my clothes weren't right and my taste in music most certainly wasn't right.

My experience in high school made me see that what other people thought shouldn't dictate what was right. That the right things were the things which were true to myself and I could cut my hair as I pleased, wear what I found comfortable and listen to music that I enjoyed.

It wasn't until a few years ago, though, that I learned how to really apply that. This was when I began to focus on my art and writing more, when I decided to travel and see the places I often talked about seeing. This was also when I really got what it meant to dance like no one was watching. I stopped drinking and any trips I took to the dance floor were entirely fueled by my love of the music. I would go out early so I could have the dance floor to myself. I'd wave to the DJ and under a canopy of lasers and lights I would dance to anything they played for me. As the floor would fill up I'd make my dance circles smaller and once I was confined to a space where I could do no more than jig on the spot, I would go home.

It was my dance therapy. I love it. And I've decided to take it to the streets. Inspired by a conversation with a friend and the 'Silent Disco' at the Science Museum, I have made up my mind to go out, into the centre of London, and just dance.

I'm currently working on my play list and I need your help. I need to know what songs you love to dance to. What songs get you moving. Anything at all.

This will be an performance art installment, my very first, and one which you may be invited to join. I'll keep you posted on the developments as long as you keep sharing that music.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Upper Deck

The journey starts at a lettered stop. It might be a 'J' or a 'B'. Standing, waiting, watching for the right bus to pull up, music on my head phones provides a soundtrack to the moment. The large red beast lumbers up to the curb, stops with a loud wheeze and hisses as the back doors open. Passengers pour out. Students huddle in clumps, collecting their friends like a magnet catching metal particles. An elderly lady with a shopping trolley shuffles away down the pavement. A young man who dismounted after her strides past, shooting her a look of disdain for having slowed his commuter pace.

The front doors pop open and I board, swiping my Oyster card over the yellow circle perched next to the driver in her enclosed plastic cavity. Feeling the push of people behind me I move along the aisle and up the steps to the second deck. I make a note to look up why 'Oyster' was chosen for the name of the travel pass for London but I suspect it has something to do with the oft misquoted 'The world is your oyster to be seized with sword in hand.' This little piece of plastic, topped up on a monthly basis, allows me access to any bus, underground or train within three zones. London may not be the world but it certainly is an experience best not restricted by an inability to get around.

There are so many ways to traverse this city and as I take the front most seat on the right on that brilliant, swaying top deck, I know that this is my favourite. Surrounded by high windows and not crowded by standing commuters in the aisle, the upper deck lifts the horizon and gives me so much to gaze upon. The trees lining the route rise out of the concrete and jut out over the road in perfect bus-shaped angles. In the summer the stray branches trying to grow will slap against the buses windows. A battle of growth and travel. Try as they might the buses keep coming by and the trees finally give up and stretch upwards instead of out.

From the front seat the bus always feels like it might tip. When it turns the corner the sway and pull of gravity and inertia moves through me. Like a roller coaster ride past old architecture. I watch the people walking below as much as I watch for gargoyles, green men and decorative leaf in the stone of the buildings we pass. The anticipation builds as we pull forward, through the towering concrete, brick and stone. Around a mini-round about and through a few more intersections before Westminster Abbey looms to the right. Behind it sits the Houses of Parliament and as the bus loops around the park opposite both these great sites I watch the bustle of tourists in the street below. They pose around the park's statues, the abbey's towering walls and the Parliament building's formidable gates. Throngs of bodies, of people from all over the world, here to see one of the greatest capitals.

The bus pulls up the road, heading to Trafalgar Square. The crowds push up and down the street on either side, heading to one monumental site from another. The changing of the guard is captured by dozens of tourists aiming their cameras over and through the mass of people who have stopped to watch. Student groups look around with awe or boredom as volunteers and teachers do their best to keep them together. Young mothers push strollers side-by-side, children hanging off of them or running ahead. In amongst it all Londoners fight against the flow, maintaining the pace of one who is no longer dazzled by the scenery around them and just wants to get to their next meeting.

In front of me the great column which supports the beloved Nelson rises up out of Trafalgar Square. This is when I know that riding on that top deck is one of my favourite things in life because whenever I know my journey is near it's end, I feel a little disappointed. I wish it could have been just that much longer, with that much more traffic. But I have somewhere to be today so I have to get off.

Next time, I tell myself, I'll just get on a bus for the sake of it and go wherever it takes me. A journey for the sake of the journey, not about where I'm going, but about what I get to see on the way.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I stepped off the crowded platform into the slightly less crowded train, book in hand. Adjusting my rucksack I rested it on one of the padded cushions mounted between two hand rails - a place for leaning. I managed a few more pages of my very addictive novel before the train arrived at its next stop, the stop at which I was to get off: Deptford, an area I actually know quite well. It was ages ago when I first came to attend what I thought was an interview for a job. It turned out to be an interview for volunteer position in a poorly managed and thought out art program. I made this journey several times for a few months, finding the overground trip slightly jarring. Entering London's suburban sprawl is always an adventure.

On the Deptford High Street the feel is similar to Peckham Rye but the crowds are smaller. Hair stylists advertise Afro Caribbean expertise. Two £1 stores run by Indians compete with each other side by side. On the corner a fish market makes itself known long before your see the sign. I duck inside a Vietnamese restaurant, something abundant in Calgary but practically non-existent in London. The man behind the counter smiles, addressing me with a simple, "Eat in or take out?" In this way the restaurant is much the same as any Vietnamese place in Calgary.

"In," I say, slinging my bag onto a chair and settling into the seat next to it. He bobs his head, darting behind a counter to get a menu. Behind him on the wall an extremely large flat screen TV blares loudly, a Vietnamese news channel giving updates on a place which seems like a whole other world to London. I peruse the menu, choose my meal and settle in with my book.

I'm killing time until I have to walk the very short distance to look at a gallery space. In the back of my mind I already feel that it won't do. Deptford has a reputation and Londoners are disinclined to travel long distances and walk winding directions to get to to their destination. This city, for all its opportunity, lacks something I find almost necessary - spontaneity.

I understand it completely, having been invited to a few things in the spur of the moment. The Londoner brain immediately begins working out the commute. When you meet someone new you question which station they live near, how many buses they take, how long their commute is. This is quickly calculated and it determines the viability of a sustainable friendship. When it takes an hour and half to get to someones house, what are the odds that you can 'pop by for dinner'?

I finish my very delicious meal, express my gratitude to the waiter as I pay my bill and head out into the growing dusk. As I suspected, the outlook is not good. The walk from the station is under ten minutes but it passes by a run down, sketchy apartment block and around what can only be counsel housing. In the dim light I'm acutely aware of my phone in my pocket, the wallet in my bag. I keep my head up, face neutral and mind calm.

Rounding the final turn I am upon a street of warehouses. I've no idea what they might have been for originally but now they have been commandeered by the creative. The buildings advertise galleries and studios, a few with open doors which display people working on strange and interesting sculptures within. I am instantly put at ease, my earlier apprehension replaced with a sense of belonging. Here is a place which has been claimed, staked out by painters, sculptures and installation artists.

I quickly locate the one I'm there to see, pressing the button to be let inside. The doorway is dark and there is no way of telling if anyone is within. The high walls of the former factory are solid brick, stretching far to my left and curving around the corner to my right. I press the button a few times before a voice finally crackles through.
"I'm here to see someone," I say. "I have an appointment"
"I'm the only one here but I'll let you in," the man's voice is difficult to understand but the tone is friendly. The door buzzes and I pull it open and step inside.

Up a winding staircase I come to a foyer where a white door is being held open by the man. A salt and pepper beard and hair frames his friendly face, his cheeks round as he smiles and lets me in. I tell him who I'm there to meet and he promises to ring them. In the mean time I can wait.

I sit in what is obviously a tiny office space used by the volunteers who run the studios and gallery. There is a table covered in pamphlets. I take a look at them, seeing if any might be of use to me.

My tour guide arrives, apologising for making me wait. I was early and I tell her as much. Then we do the very short tour of what's available. The warehouse has been divided into several studios. Plywood walls and simple doors set out boxy rooms for artists to rent. The resulting corridor is considered the gallery, the white painted plywood and doors a blank canvas to display work. The lighting is good and the wall space is abundant. The price is even right. But still, the subject of location nags in the back of my head.

I think of my friends and family in Calgary, the people who would unquestionably put in every effort to make it to a gallery showing should I hold one in that city. In that context this space would work. Even the sketchy neighbourhood wouldn't matter because it wouldn't be important. Most people could drive there because parking wouldn't be an issue. If you didn't drive you could take transit or catch a ride with someone else. Either way, I know that I could advertise it well and expect a decent turn-out.

London seems to drain me of my confidence. This massive city is like a strange organism. It swallows you up, turning you into one of the faceless millions. I think of the people I know over here. Who could I invite? How could I convince them to come to Deptford?

I ask for a few more details before shaking hands with my guide and departing, promising to keep in touch. The walk to the train station gives me time to think. It is a really good space. Not ideal for what I want to do with my cards, but workable. It's a reasonable price and the two people I've met who have affiliation with it are really friendly and helpful.

I have a few other places to check out, a few more options to consider. In the mean time I'm going to think about how to overcome the lack of spontaneity, the resistance of going out, and the odd reclusiveness which most Londoners seem to live by. Without spending a fortune by holding it in central London, how am I going to put on a gallery showing which people will attend?

All part of the game, I suppose.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

London Journal - Literature in Trafalgar Square

"Listen," she whispered, our bodies huddled close together on the cold stone steps. Around us they had been commandeered as seating by so many others, all there for the same reason. Before us lay a crowd stretched to the foot of a stage. A stage laid out with wing-back chairs and a false fireplace, set against a red velvet curtain backdrop. All eyes and ears are focused on the stage because someone is reading.

And the thing to listen for between the melodious sounds of beautiful literature being read aloud, is the silence. Thousands of people fill Trafalgar Square and their common love of books shows in the respectful way in which they listen, heads tilted, to what is being read. They may love it or hate it, have read it a thousand times or never known it was written before this moment, but together they listen.
As a giver for World Book Night I feel extremely privileged. When I collected my box of books last week the excitement began to build. The many emails I'd received prior to the delivery of 'The Life of Pi' barely touched the excitement generated at holding that specially printed book in my hand. Forty-eight copies to distribute in a way of my own choosing.

I brought three copies with me to the opening in Trafalgar. I was one of the first through the gates, holding my arm up so the event staff could see my wrist band. Once inside the fenced off square I inspected my options for seating. Settling on the centre steps facing the stage, I wrapped myself around a steaming cup of tea. As I watched the crowd a familiar feeling filled my stomach. It was a lightness, a contentedness and a sense of belonging. I pondered it only for a moment before realising this was how I'd felt at fourteen when I attended my very first Pride Parade. I was amongst my tribe then and here too. Surrounded by so many lovers of the written word, I felt a strong sense of kinship.

Despite the chill in the air we sat, all of us, and we listened. We soaked up readings by Mark Haddon, Sarah Waters and Margaret Atwood. Eyes glistened with tears as Alan Bennett declared the closing of libraries as child abuse, as it is the children who will suffer for the loss. A gentle laughter rolled across the masses as Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, shared a literary account of a hangover.

But the best bit by far was in the giving. It's just begun and already it's incredible to think that no one thought to do this before. The absolute joy which crosses the face of someone who is handed a book for free is undeniably contagious. Their face says it all because you have just given them so much more than just bound pieces of paper. You have given them a window into another world, another's imagination and a whole new discovery.

Happy World Book Night.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

World Book Night

I don't believe that non-readers exist.

I might be wrong. There may be a few people in the world who genuinely will not enjoy any piece of literature you put in front of them. They may be put off by every genre, author, subject and style of writing available.

But I doubt it.

I've been thinking about writing a lot lately since signing up for my course. The whole experience has been extremely stimulating. I'm surrounded by people who love the written word but also love the idea of sharing their own story or stories, whatever the subject matter or length. They just want to get it down.

We're all quite well-read from what I have deduced through our conversations, but when I say that I don't mean we've all read a lot of books. I don't mean we've read a lot of 'The Classics' (don't ask me my opinion on dubbing a book 'Classic') or heavy, long winded texts. What I mean is, we are genuinely passionate about what we read and we don't just pay attention to the subject matter - we pay attention to the way in which it was written.

One of the biggest reasons people don't try their hand at something they're genuinely passionate about seems to be because they're afraid that they will fail. Not trying is, in itself, failure and refusing to listen to the little voice inside you which says you have a sonata/novel/painting/architectural design/philosophy/sculpture waiting to get out is cheating yourself out of so much.

But this fear of failure isn't unfounded. It's easy to justify not wanting to try because if people don't love it, then why bother? Or if you give all that time and effort to it but no one will pay for it, what's the point?

All very well and good if you're doing it for money, success or fame. But I don't do it for these reasons and neither do/did some of the greatest minds of our time. We need to create for the simple thrill of creation.

But then there's the other reason so few people will even bother. Because they figure they can't top something that already exists. They hear a piece of music and assume they could never compose anything so stunning. They see a painting and can't imagine creating one equally as delightful. They read a novel written so poetically, they think they can't compete.

There's a simple solution to this problem as well: Stop looking at it as a competition. Bach died in 1750. What a shame it would have been if Mozart, Beethoven or Tchaikovsky didn't bother composing because they felt Bach's genius couldn't be topped. They knew it wasn't about being better than someone else. It was about being the best of themselves.

There is no book in existence which is indisputably loved by everyone who reads it. There never will be. Being called a 'classic' does not instantly mark a book good or worthy of reading. The value of a book can only be found in the reader.

And for that reason I do not believe that non-readers exist. Anyone who doesn't enjoy reading simply hasn't found the right book.

On March 5th, 2011 I am joining 19,999 other individuals in distributing 1,000,000 copies of 25 different titles in creative and clever ways. My book of choice is The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, one of the greatest books I've ever encountered. I have 48 copies to give and not every one of the 48 individuals who receive one from me will love this book. Some of them are even going to hate it. But the point is, that they will have encountered it when they might not have otherwise. And maybe, just maybe, one of those 48 will have always considered themselves a non-reader, until I gave them this book.