Frequently I will read a book and I find it inspiring in an “I can do that” kind of way.  I recently read a collection of short stories, and it motivated me, not just because the stories were great, but also because they weren’t necessarily logically resolved in the end.  I have a tendency to beat myself up if I can’t come up with a clever ending, or get caught up in the details of how something would work in real life.  These stories were inspiring to me in the “I can do that” kind of way.  Or I will visit a museum and think “Brilliant! I could totally play with that idea.”  I had this experience all over the Baltimore American Visionary Art Musueum ( – I’m not sure about this website, but if you’re ever in Baltimore, I highly recommend you go…)

 Other times I will read something and it will be so great, so amazing, so above and beyond anything I’m capable of creating that I just have to throw up my hands and say, “There’s no hope for me.”  I recently had this experience with Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones.  True confession, although I’m afraid it makes me sound a bit too much like a moody artist: I was depressed for a few days after finishing The Lovely Bones because it was so beautifully written.  “There’s no hope for me.  Even if I did nothing but write all day every day, if I did nothing but slavishly develop my craft, I will never be able to create anything that good.”  This will last for a day or two before I slap myself in the face and tell myself to get back to work. 

I have this experience less often with art, I suppose since  I’m not really an “artist” in the museum-sense, but it does happen every now and then.  I’ll see a piece of art that is so beautiful, there’s no room left for any “I can do that” inspiration.  Tonight I came across this:

I don’t do paper cutting; I don’t do anything even remotely like this.  But I’m blown away by the level of detail, the level of dedication this art must take.  I’m going to try to not be depressed, but someone slap me and tell me to get back to work if I don’t snap out of it in a day or two.

About Shannon K.

My name is Shannon. I make stuff up.
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6 Responses to five

  1. ames says:

    That’s how I feel when I look at Yulia Brodskaya’s papergraphics.

    But then I also remember days past when a certain someone would produce some really inspiring architecture. Consider that your slap in the face.

  2. TK Knox says:

    Try this one and tell me what you might do in this scenario:

    My two favorite authors decided to collaborate and create a brand new series together on were-wolves. This just so happens to be the same subject matter I am writing in and am somewhat obsessed with, so I was emphatically happy to hear this news on twitter, that is until I read the synopsis and realize it was like taking the book I had been working a year and a half on already and cutting it in half and creating a new ending. These two authors are both very well known and popular, so I had the same feeling of, “There’s no hope for me.” when this happened, because even if I did manage to not only finish this first book before theirs but also find an agent or publisher in time to publish before theirs, I would still be looked at as a “knock off” after theirs was published due to my newness into the writing career. Any suggestions on this?

    • shannonmakesstuffup says:

      Lord. I am FAR from an expert. But I guess my response is ‘who cares.’ If you have a good story, no one will care if it is a ‘knock off’ or not. (Look at EL James; Not that I think “Fifty Shades of Gray” is the height of literary fiction, but it started out as “Twilight” fan fic for God’s sake.) Further, you say they cut your book in half and put a new ending on it. So, they don’t sound like the same book to me. All we’ve been doing for the last three hundred years is telling different variations on the same six or seven (or however many, but its probably a pretty small number) stories. The characters are different, you put them in a different place or time, you put your own spin on the ending or the climax. Art has been producing ‘knock offs’ for centuries. There are a thousand and one excuses for not-writing. Don’t let this be yours.

      • TK Knox says:

        You have no idea how much that just uplifted me. I haven’t been able to really touch that book in about three to four months now, but I am kinda feeling the vibes for writing a little more of that story! >.<

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