Is Your Best Work Ahead of You?

Is Your Best Work Ahead of You?

Just for a moment act as though all the creative works you’ve ever done are gone and untraceable.  They cease to be.  There is no memory of your body of work except for what you own; friends, family, colleagues, students, peers – all have no recollection of your work or your reputation.  There is no longer a creative history to foster your pride.

Assuming your passion is not make-believe and your ability to produce remains, now what?  Your beautifully clever, well crafted, richly toned works are disposable.  a.k.a – You’re free.

It’s important that we know our best work is yet to be produced.  Our best is what is in us now, not what we – or others – admire about the past.  The current creative paradox or those conflicts that remain unresolved are in front of us and are what needs examining.

Maria Schneider has a story to illustrate this point.

Maria Scheider Biography (via Wikipedia)

Schneider was born in Windom, Minnesota. She moved to New York City in 1985 after attending college at the University of Minnesota, the University of Miami and the Eastman School of Music. She studied under Bob Brookmeyer and Gil Evans, working on various projects with Evans, including the film The Color of Money and Absolute Beginners. Her works share many characteristics with other jazz composers influenced by Gil Evans, including Lou Marini, and Grammy Award winning composer Bob Belden.

Schneider formed The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra in 1993, appearing weekly at Visiones in Greenwich Village for five years. Her orchestra performed at many jazz festivals and toured Europe.

Schneider was one of the first artists to use ArtistShare to produce an album. Her 2004 album, Concert in the Garden, became the first Grammy Award-winning recording sold exclusively via the Internet. It was named Jazz Album of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, which also named Schneider Composer of the Year and Arranger of the Year and named her group Large Jazz Ensemble of the Year.

Schneider’s ensemble is now titled “The Maria Schneider Orchestra”. Their new album, Sky Blue, was released in July 2007, also via ArtistShare. Schneider’s composition “Cerulean Skies,” from Sky Blue, won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition in 2008. Schneider is an avid birdwatcher and enlisted band members to contribute bird calls on “Cerulean Skies.”

Artistic Expression, Creativity, Inspiration, Music, Musician, Video

4 Responses to “Is Your Best Work Ahead of You?”

  1. Scott Webb Says:

    While I as in architecture school at Ryerson University, I would always say that my best project was my next project.

    I truly believe this.

  2. Eric Hatch Says:

    I understand that the attempt here is to free oneself from others’ expectations. But if you write (or photograph or paint) ONLY for yourself, you lose touch with that which is external to the self. In other words, you risk becoming a kee-kee bird, which flies in ever decreasing spirals until it flies up its own ass and cries out “kee, kee, kee-RIST it’s dark in here!”

    One line of thought, very hard to accept (which doesn’t invalidate it) is that the ONLY way we have an identity is through the collective responses of our community to us. Without a community, we vanish, goes this argument. My own belief is that you should shoot / draw/ write for yourself FIRST, but understand that until the work is out there in the world it has no effective existence. (“Effective” means brings things about or causes things.)

    I do a lot of photo restoration …. it pays the bills, and it REALLY registers with customers. In essence, and to their way of seeing, I am literally bringing loved ones back to life. Check the slideshow here: http-//bit.ly/5j8TkT

    Basically, many writers and photographers are really insecure about their stuff, and they DO try to hard to please others. But it doesn’t follow from that that they should pretend no one out there exists …. what if everyone out there pretended YOU don’t exist?

    This entire problem is made more complicated by the lack of control we as artists face when we send our goods (read, a portion of ourselves) out there for others to judge. Scary! It’s why I no longer review the work of beginners, because I know they don’t want critique, they want reassurance … which in conscience I may or may snot be able to give them.

    So, I say to you: DON’T pretend all your stuff has vanished. NOW go do the art you believe in. Much harder, but ultimately much more likely to be rewarding.

  3. Bruce DeBoer Says:

    @scott – I try the same but not sure I always succeed.
    @eric – I was going for a mindset in the first paragraph. With no history of work or expectations, what would you do? When posed to myself I’m not completely convinced I’d stay on the same course with my work – that tells me that there is something in me that isn’t emerging.

    Certainly the beauty of creative works is that they are enduring, inspiring, and are the roots of future creations.


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