Masterminding: Doing and the Resistance

Today (Wednesday 1/6/16) my musical colleague, Wendy of SUNSPOT, and I are having the first of what will most likely be fortnightly Mastermind group meetings to encourage accountability in achieving the 2016 artistic goals we have wholeheartedly resolved to pursue for ourselves. It is a good sign that we are having our first meeting in the first week of January, since procrastinating about it until a later date would defeat the purpose and be a very bad sign. I am hoping that we can actually meet weekly and I think we should establish that sort of aggressive timetable (with a sacrosanct block of time carved out for it), but busy rock-n-roll musicians and humanitarians that we are, a weekly schedule has a natural tendency to drift toward a fortnightly one, irrespective of good intentions (refer to THE RESISTANCE below). However, if we decided on a fortnightly schedule from the get go, this would drift as well, toward monthly meetings, which would be intolerable from a procrastinatory, wait-till-the-last-minute-then-cram standpoint. For me, weekly accomplishment of goals is essential and paramount. A week's hard labor on art is just about right (thanks Goldilocks!) to produce useful creations.

Wednesdays are my day off. Or at least substantial portions of Wednesday are. For the foreseeable future, Wednesday afternoons are earmarked for my pretty good band GUPPY EFFECT's rehearsals. All the members of the original rock-n-roll power trio have the day off, for now. Since I sold my house at the end of 2015, I no longer have the Rock Cave, the awesome band practice and house concert chamber in the finished basement of said house. So GUPPY EFFECT has moved rehearsal over to guitarist Stefan's smaller but acoustically treated den space. We have had one practice there already and I was impressed by the clarity of sound due to the acoustic sound panels he installed soon after moving there. We have to clear some of the furniture to make it work, but it works well.

I'll have to head over to Stefan's about 2 PM today for practice until about 5. We are honing a set of songs for our performance at my rock-n-roll birthday party this Friday evening at the Bos Meadery, an up and coming alternative music venue (and mead hall) that allows full band rocking (I only discovered this recently...I thought they only did semi-acoustic stuff). They make mead, which is a honey based alcoholic drink I usually associate with Vikings, medieval castles, and oversized legs of mutton for some reason. It looks like the turnout for the party is going to be pretty substantial, probably due in part or in toto to the respectable time frame of the gig (6-9 PM). Of course, I have learned not to be a blind optimist when it comes to show attendance. Rock show RSVPs can also have a sizable drift to them and the effective turnout at a show can range anywhere from 20% to 80% of the "on paper" value indicated by the social media. There are a lot of reasons for this. For example, some people work full time jobs for THE MAN during the week, and even though the thought of ending a work week with some potent mead and music at a respectable time of the day (happy hour) sounds thrilling and totally achievable on Monday morning, by Friday THE MAN has often drained a substantial amount of life force from the mind, body, and soul. So going home to curl up in a catatonic fetal ball and weep on the living room couch sounds more appealing by the time Friday afternoon rolls around. It's hard to convey to people who have never seen GUPPY EFFECT perform that our rocking has been clinically proven to restore life force to 96.4% of normal.* Another deterring factor, and a curse of having a birthday that falls in the middle of winter in Wisconsin, is weather. Winter weather is a major reason that many of my music projects go on hiatus from Halloween through St. Patrick's Day.** The exception is always my birthday, because rocking is my number one favorite thing to do and makes for a great birthday present before the winter brutality really sets in later in January and February. It looks like we are in for some good luck weather-wise for this show. It's supposed to be partly sunny on Friday, with temperatures above freezing. A deep freeze is rolling in on Sunday, so we will manage to eek out some rock-n-roll just in the nick of time. Promotion is also a limiting factor in rock show turnout. As with any "product," consumers have to know about it in order to consume it (the main purpose of advertising). If you can get them in the door, they can see what a good product it is and they will want to buy it. Rock-n-roll is no different. It's a transient product, only available for a limited time in one location (although several locations may be vending different brands of it at any given time). If people don't know when or where good rock-n-roll product is available, they miss it. I have never been very good at promoting, and that troubles me since GUPPY EFFECT's brand of rock is top notch ("Thrice the rocking power of other name bands.") and I feel ethically remiss that I don't do a better job getting the word out about it. But I do what I can. I read that the best time to post something to social media and have people actually see it is between 1 to 3 PM on Wednesdays (think about it...).

I'll probably order a couple complimentary pizzas for attendees at the show this Friday, to encourage early attendance. Once people set foot in the Bos Meadery and become instantly soaked in the foamy wetness of the show, GUPPY EFFECT's rocking will speak for itself. There is no admission fee to get in, so we are basically giving potent rock-n-roll out to people for free. I'm going to play a set of solo acoustic songs to warm up the crowd until Stefan arrives from work for the full band rocking. I can only hope THE MAN has not drained to much of his vital bodily fluids, but they will be restored readily enough with an infusion of mead.

Anyway, that was a long and torturous path to the main crux of this post. I have two big book projects to accomplish this year that will require more devotion and discipline and exertion than anything I have ever done before. Failure is not an option. That means grinding out words (like this post) even when I don't want to (like this post). I have always said, "wishful doing trumps wishful thinking every time," and it's corollary "if you want to do something, you have to do it." These statements may seem like common sense, but they are much more easily said than done. There is something called THE RESISTANCE, which has been written about by much better and more experienced writers than me. If you were a religious person, you would maybe call this THE DEVIL. It's all the things that work against you cranking out your art or whatever it is that you are trying to crank out. It's your bad conscience. It's excuses and procrastination. It's fear of failure or mental paralysis. It can even just be THE MAN sucking out your life force (a major obstacle to art, by design). Creating good art is hard, and that includes performing live rock-n-roll music. Lay people see a band play and I think a lot of them assume the band just showed up, got on stage, and started rocking spontaneously with nary a rehearsal. They view music as a hobby and just assume the music they are witnessing has to do with the innate talent of the musicians. They never see the hours of band practice, the futile attempts to contact d-bag booking managers at venues, the hauling of heavy gear all over the place, the struggle of writing and learning songs. Talent is 90% effort and 10% genetics (a totally optional 10% to be sure...). To achieve things you really want to achieve, you have to JUST DO IT (thanks Nike!). That's really all. Just burl through and throw pure muscle at THE RESISTANCE to stop it from stopping you.

That's what this post is really about, plain and simply.

I didn't want to write for two hours this morning. I willed myself to. I had planned to be at my desk writing at or before 8 AM today and go until about 10 AM (it's 10:02 right now), and then I would switch over to practicing songs in anticipation of band practice this afternoon. I did everything right, or so I thought. I got up at 7 AM and expediently handled all my morning rituals: fed the dogs and let them out, drank leftover coffee, ate a bowl of cereal with mixed berries and vanilla almond milk. Deborah normally works on Wednesdays, so I thought I would have the house to myself, but she isn't feeling well today, so she called in sick and stayed home. She had no clue that this was THE RESISTANCE at work, somehow manipulating the Cosmos to try to thwart me (because I love my girlfriend and when she is not feeling good, I want to take care of her instead of working on my art). But she's on my side. We are a great team and she supports my art 110%. She knows it is not just a hobby for me and that my "talent" is 80% "effort" (I can't lie to you, I do have some pretty decent genetics going on). She knew that I had to "work" this morning, which is how I (and she) have to view my artistic pursuits if I have any hope of bringing the artistic end products to fruition. In art, you are your own boss, and this causes a duality of personality, the slacker artist driven by THE RESISTANCE vs the DOER whipmaster. The conflict between these sides of the artist is what generates ideas. Deborah is one of the few people who understands that my writing and music are compulsive passions that I have to do to be a happy human being and work very hard at to feel accomplishment. I must do my art whenever I am able and when I am not able, I think about doing it with longing and frustration.

I am past deadline, so I am going to wrap up. I know full well this blog post pretty much sucks. It's not my best work and I can almost guarantee human eyes will never see these final words. When I got to my desk this morning, my mind was empty, with nary a useful idea in sight. It was THE RESISTANCE blasting white noise into my skull. But I punched THE RESISTANCE in the nut sack and starting hacking out words regardless. This is the end result. It's not gold. It's not even bronze. It's, I don't know, copper or quartz. But it's something, and that's better than nothing. This is the end result of DOING even when I don't want to. My DOER drags me kicking and screaming to the computer. If one is going to trample THE RESISTANCE and accomplish art (in my case writing two books in 2016), then one has to punch THE RESISTANCE in the dick a lot and focus on getting art done while the Beast is writhing on the floor, clutching its groin in agony.

This is one of my most AWESOME posts (to me) because it represents accomplishment and defeating THE RESISTANCE. I win.


*Based on the average Sunday afternoon day drinking or football game watching values of an average American. This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. GUPPY EFFECT's rock-n-roll is not intended as a substitute for the administration of food and/or drugs.

**GUPPY EFFECT's kickoff show of the 2016 rocking season (not including this Friday) is on Saturday March 12 at the awesome Reptile Palace rock club in Oshkosh WI. This is actually the weekend before St. Patrick's Day, but we wanted to get out ahead of the boozy crowds. GUPPY EFFECT's rocking is also clinically proven to amplify one's party spirit for up to a fortnight after experiencing it, so we thought it was our civic duty to ensure St. Patrick's Day celebrations are at an all time high.

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