It was a frosty evening outside, but there was plenty of heat and light at a freewheeling performance and audience give-back by poet and actor reg e gaines. Hearing reg isn’t just inspiring, it’s energizing: words and ideas tumble around and play together in the fields of the imagination. Catching lightening in a bottle isn’t easy, but here are a few sparks to help light your own creative fires:
Be open: Being an artist, a writer, isn’t about ego. It’s about being open, being receptive, being alert to the world and what it’s offering you at every moment.
Embrace conflict: Whatever you’re writing — a poem, a play, a scene — find conflict whenever you can — it’s the fuel, the juice, that moves a story forward.
Recognize the artist in others: It’s a tough world, a rough-and-tumble marketplace, a crazy quilt of commercialism out there for writers and other creatives. One of the ways to respond to it all is to make it a point to recognize and acknowledge your fellow artists: make them feel welcomed and valued. Reg does this with a grace and generosity that I admire greatly: He turns any room of people into an instant artistic community.
Give what you know: As writers, whatever stage we’ve reached, we’ve all learned more than we think we have. And one of the ways to find out what we know is to share whatever we’ve learned that might be helpful with others.
Stay true to yourself: Once we move out of our heads and beyond the page, we’ll always face moments and situations when we feel that we’re in foreign territory — when this happens, don’t lose sight of what matters to you and what you want to accomplish.
Work harder: As part of an artistic community, we’re all striving to improve and grow, to become better and stronger. The only way to get better and stronger is to write — and to keep on writing, even when we don’t feel like it.
Chase your own dream: At the end of his talk, reg said he’s chasing Miles Davis, which isn’t surprising, because reg’s poetry is alive with rhythm and riffs. As you write dangerously and bring your own words to life, who do you feel is worth chasing? Something to ponder as we all write on.