Time for that End of the Year musing we all dread.

31 12 2016

Weather: Winter is taking a slight break at the moment, as we’re in the 40s for the next few days. Then it’s back into the freezer later in the week.

We haven’t seen a shit-ton of snow so far ::knocks all available wood:: but the weather has been all over the place this year. Summer was cooler than expected, and drier. Spring and Fall both stretched past their usual dates. Not that I’m complaining. (I’m all for the cooler temps to be honest. )

So. New Year’s Eve. We meet again my friend. Been muddling most of the morning on what I wanted to write this year and considering the tenor of 2016, it could turn into a horror story right out the gate.

Truth be told, my personal life has been…okay. The world at large? Not so much. I’ve had idols die this year. (SO MANY OF THEM. WTF, Grim Reaper? Are you training some overeager assistant, because DAMN. )

Politically….the less said the better. The election was a mess. The candidates were unimpressive. The voters were their own worst enemies, if they even voted at all. Infighting made enemies of once allies. Buyer’s remorse seems to be setting in, since we seem to have elected a petulant child with a lengthy slam book in hand to the head of the table. The country by and large seems both weary and uneasy. Not good for what seems to be a fight ahead. Anyone who thinks things will turn around or are not heading into troubled waters should probably be in for some depths of disappointment.

I’ve kind of taken the tact of focusing on what I can do to work on issues locally- Neighborhood, city, community, state levels. The federal government has failed us on so many levels. It seems to have abandoned listening to anyone but those who line their pockets, and even those who would have good intentions are getting pecked to death by supporters who think good is the enemy of perfect. It’s not because I have any animosity to the government as an idea, because when it works, it’s fantastic. I also don’t believe “reducing it to a size that can be drowned in a bathtub” is anywhere in the vicinity of a responsible attitude. People do love their soundbites, don’t they? Regardless of how inane or dangerous the idea is. Sigh. Didn’t really want to turn this into a political assessment, but considering how the ugly side of politics has seeped into every fucking aspect of our lives, it’s hard to pretend it’s not a problem. I’ve seen members of families literally stop talking to each other over this.

Anyway. On less contentious things, I think that this year is the seed of a new creative revolution. Not because things seem bad, but because the underlying structure on how art is made, marketed and shown is shifting. The old label/publishing house/art market structure still exists, but is growing increasingly inadequate to sustain for most creative types out there. More and more people are finding ways to tap their communities for support, and use their own knowledge of their creative output to better market it. It doesn’t mean the methods are becoming more lucrative. But if your only reason for entering the art world is to make money, then I think you need to reassess your reasons. Money will come, but you have to be good at what you do. That takes time and effort.

The patronage model seems to slowly be making a comeback. People are selling directly to their fans and supporters. Commissions are getting done, because of the need for unique pieces of work or exclusive releases seems to be on the upswing. Pre-ordering something that comes from an artist you like and have faith in can sustain that artist. Granted this model works best for those who have an established fan base, less so for those who are starting out. This seems to be where a lot of new creatives are befuddled. There is no magic trick to being successful in anything. A lot of it is timing, some luck, but the truth is – and people for some reason hate hearing this -you have to WORK VERY HARD. Put the time in. Make the sacrifices. Rob Peter to pay Paul, so that maybe you don’t have cable for awhile so you can buy supplies or travel to a convention where you can sell your wares. Practice until you have reasonable mastery. Then keep practicing. There’s always a new level.

This year, I kind of stepped back from a lot of what was happening and just watched. I tried to observe what worked for some people, and what didn’t. I tried to listen when people did write-ups on their experiences, seeing if there was a commonality to the struggles versus their successes. What I didn’t do was join the Greek Choir of “this year is awful and everything is on fire” when it came to whether someone would be successful or not. I watched people who had more limitations on their time and finances become successful, even if it was moderately so, and people who had vast amounts of resources barely break even or fail.

So many iconic artists passed away this year. It’s really not the year. It’s just been overwhelming because there were a lot of trailblazers in there. Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Carrie Fisher – on and on. One thing that all of them had in common was not stopping when things got difficult and not letting the zeitgeist dictate their creative output. The reason that all of them garnered so much respect and why their passing inspired so much emotional response was that we are invested in people who speak to us when we are feeling like outcasts ourselves. When we think the world is looking down it’s nose at us. When we are emotionally low or experiencing those downturns in our lives that inevitably happen. They speak to us. Some of us at different times and for different reasons. We have different favorite  albums, songs, performances. That’s because we needed them for different reasons at different times.

I know this is typically rambly of me, but if I had to glean one lesson from 2016, it was simply that time doesn’t care. It will pass regardless of events, or endings, or procrastination. It will not slow down to accommodate your sorrow, or inability to cope, or vast plans. We lost a lot of people. Some friends lost family. Some lost friends. Some lost idols. We are heading into uncertain times. We are standing at the edge of another year, but this year, things do not carry any assurances. We’re starting the new year battle scarred and a little less hopeful. Doesn’t mean we have to wallow. We can reverse the trend, but again, we have to put the time in.

If 2017 is to be anything more than just more of the same, or heaven forfend, WORSE, it falls on us to do something about it. Make the new year YOUR year. Step away from howling morass of social media politics. It is possible to be informed without having to get mired down in things. It’s possible to make improvements, to get your voice heard, and to express your hopes, desires and yes, disapproval. You will probably have to work harder to be heard. You probably will have to apply a lot more critical thinking when you read things, seeing that there are people actively trying to mislead you now. Most are easily avoided.

One thing I would advise to all: Even if something makes you angry, if a person is pissing you off to all ends– Don’t mention them by name. “Internet famous” has no downside anymore. Even if 90% of you are speaking about someone with disdain and anger, you are still making their name trend. And trust me, most of these jackasses care more about that than worry about your negative view of them.
There are exceptions, of course. If someone needs exposing, then by all means do so. (But make sure your accusations are founded, documented and make sure that collateral damage is not hitting innocent people. Internet mobs are less helpful than you think, although they feel good when you’re angry at something/someone. Yes, you have to make that effort. Otherwise you are no better than them.)

STOP MAKING STUPID PEOPLE FAMOUS. 

Yes, even our elected officials. (You notice I didn’t mention anyone by name above. Wasn’t necessary. You know who I was talking about.)

Sorry for the downer post, but it’s been a downer of a year. Still, there’s always room to head up and that’ll be the focus of my New Year’s Day post.

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I’ll be back tomorrow for my thoughts for the new Year. 😀

Thanks for reading my write-ups this year. I truly appreciate it.

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