Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Author Archives: David Thomas Peacock

It’s Not That Hard

For god’s sake, if you do nothing else, please don’t be an asshole. Look at it this way – Do you really enjoy being reviled? I didn’t think so.

Let me go one step further: if you are about to say or do something designed to make someone else feel bad, just stop. It may make you feel good in the moment, but it’s not going to make you feel better in the long run.

Look, there’s a lot to be said for kindness. Force is an important tool also, but try to make your default empathy and treating others with respect.

You’ll find that life’s a lot more enjoyable if you do.

No Time Left

“When god punishes you, it’s not that you don’t get what you want. You get everything  you want but there’s no time left.”

– Miles Davis, at the end of his life

Amateur vs Professional

Is a painter or sculptor who doesn’t earn a living from their art an amateur? What about a hobbyist?

Is an actor who has dedicated their life to acting but still has to work a day job an amateur?

In America, one of our perversions is to label anything that doesn’t make money as useless at worst, or a hobby at best.

This is wrong.

If you’ve dedicated your life to something that no one else seems to care about, fuck ‘em. Society doesn’t get to define who you are.

You do.

Here’s the Truth

If you’re making any kind of art, it only has to please one person.

You.

‘Cuz there’s an extremely high probability that no one else will ever see it.

So if you made it to please anyone else, now how foolish do you feel?

Passing It On

Whatever special knowledge you’ve acquired, or unique skills you’ve developed, make sure, at some point in your life, to pass it on to someone else.

This is how we evolved as humans, it’s hardwired into our DNA.

And the cherry on top?

It feels good.

Take Something Beautiful (Part 2)

”There’s your picture on the wall
I took it long before I knew you
The little dress that you’ve got on
But I swear I can see right through you
That look upon your face
That’s a look I’m forever chasing


I want to smile without regret

I want to die in my own bed
I want a free mind, not caged
I want a free mind, unburdened, unplagued


I think I’m from nothing, nothing, nothing at all
I think I’m from nothing, nothing, nothing at all

Take something beautiful and then go and smash it
Take something perfect and pervert it
Take something young and proud and then shame it
Make a promise out loud and then break it

I want to smile without regret
I want to die in my own bed
I want a free mind, not caged
I want a free mind, unburdened, unplagued

I’m not here, I’m not there
I’m not anywhere at all
I’m not here, I’m not there
I’m not anywhere at all

I think I’m from nothing, nothing, nothing at all
I think I’m from nothing, nothing, nothing at all
I think I’m from nothing, nothing, nothing at all”

– Jesse Younan

Brutal

Oh sure – I’m not saying there weren’t some good moments. But for the most part, it felt like being beaten with a stick.

For a long time.

Over and over.

You get the picture.

Eye of the Beholder

You never know how something is going to be received. This is a dilemma every artist has to grapple with at some point. You make something that works for you, but that doesn’t mean its going to work for others.

One of the pitfalls of realizing this is that it can make you think about changing your art to fit what you hope might be more acceptable. This isn’t always bad, but it bears some serious thought.

Do the changes make the piece better or do they dilute it? Maybe what’s objectionable is part of your voice – and your voice is all you’ve got. It’s what separates you from everyone else.

This is one of the tricky things about writing. At least in the beginning, it seems like until a piece is published, editing is never done. Changing content is absolutely part of editing, so why not change it to be easier to take.

Tread carefully.

No Mask? Think Again

It’s her ninth straight month of Covid duty. “My unit is 16 beds. Rarely do we have an open one,” she said. “And when we do have an open bed, it’s usually because somebody has passed away.”

Many of her I.C.U. patients are young, in their 40s or 50s. “They’re looking at us and saying things like, ‘Don’t let me die’ and ‘I guess I should have worn that mask,’” she said.

Sometimes she cries on her way home, where she lives alone with her two dogs. Her 79-year-old mother resides just a couple of houses away.

They have not hugged since March.

“I keep telling everybody the minute I can safely hug you again, get ready,” she said. “Because I’m never letting go.”

– Katherine J. Wu, “COVID Combat Fatigue,” The New York Times

No Quit

There’s something to be said for tenacity.

You want something done and it’s not working out? Try another approach, and if that one doesn’t work, keep going until it does.

I’m good at this – like a thoughtful pit bull, I’ll just keep hammering away until I get the goddamn thing done.

It’s not always pretty, but it is effective.

Stress and Adversity

These things keep us sharp, they give us our edge. The last thing you want is for life to be easy, ‘cuz that makes you soft.

We think stress is bad, but it’s not.

Every time you overcome some obstacle or persevere through hardship, you become stronger and more formidable.

Remember that the next time things start to go south.

New Shooter Coming Out

It’s a great honor and joy to teach someone at the beginning of their journey in a very difficult but rewarding profession.

I forgot how good it felt.

It was a good day.

Oh Boy

This is getting hard. Very involved with writing – not so much here.

Maybe this has outlived its usefulness? Hmmm…

Worth Remembering

“If there is nothing to grab the reader in the first page, it’s probably getting a “no” vote. Thems just the breaks. This is part of why writing teachers harp on the importance of the first page, first paragraph, and first line. That may be all that’s read.”

– Lincoln Michel

It took me awhile to get this – I always assumed the story started where it needed to, and that setting up the characters and narrative evolved at its own pace, as long as it was interesting and well-written.

But I get it – if you’re a slush reader, something needs to grab you quickly or else it goes in the rejection pile.

Duly noted.

Alarm Fatigue

One alarm shouts Emergency!
Attention must be paid
A dozen other alarms join in
And begin to form music
Making a comfortable ambient bed
That says Welcome home

Here’s Your Fucking Trigger Warning

“I would urge writers that if something doesn’t work, it’s not because it’s gone too far – it’s because it needs to be dialed up even farther.

There is an authority in doing the thing that is completely above and beyond wrong.

So if a line is not quite working, maybe it needs to be more extreme instead of less extreme.”

– Chuck Palahniuk

When to Call it Done

In music, the first takes are usually the best – warts and all. It’s a hard concept to grasp if you’re an artist, if only because you want your creation to be perfect. But here’s the thing: Nothing is ever perfect, and it would probably be boring if it was.

Musicians are notorious for never finishing anything, because they’re constantly tinkering and polishing – until the thing is no longer alive, it’s dead. You polished the life out of it.

Does that mean you ship something with mistakes?

If you’ve captured the idea you were trying to get across, yes it does.

If mistakes worked for Bob Dylan and Miles Davis, then they’ll work for you. Caveat: In Dylan and Miles’s case, they were masters at conveying their art in a way that connected deeply with the listener. Few of us are this gifted, but you’ll certainly never get there if you can’t finish anything.

Does this axiom apply to other art forms as well?

It’s an idea worth exploring.