Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's the best way to do [a thing]?

I love asking myself this question.

I could make entire posts about every time I've asked myself this question about virtually anything.  I would love to write a book about the best ways to do things...  But...  probably no one would buy that.

Asking "What's the best way to do this?" has led to both a lot of strife and a great deal of reward for me.  Some people will resist new ideas to no end; completely set in their ways, even when better ways of doing things are completely obvious.  Other people embrace change and constantly seek to improve themselves.
I like to think the latter is me, but usually I'll have a really good idea about some much-better way of doing something and...   not do a whole lot about it.  Usually, I'm sure I just forget.

A lot of good ideas are lost for lack of pen and paper.

Thinking of the best way to do things has led me to believe that shoes are bad.
I understand about hazardous circumstances (which may or may not include leaving your house) and barefootedness not really going together, but that just makes me think about the conditions that create the necessity of wearing shoes.  Broken glass?  Other unpleasant substances on the ground?  I can think of a bunch of "Best ways to do things" that could prevent those issues from ever even being issues.  These are things that can be fixed.  Also, what about all the time that we don't spend outdoors?
My toes want to be free!

Also, I just don't like wearing shoes.

Also, I don't like wearing pants.

Maybe it's just me.

It's not like I'm constantly running through thorny brush or something and need to protect my legs from things.  The entire idea of clothing and the historic notion of physical modesty is very backwards to me.  I'm no nudist, but like I said, I don't like to wear pants.  Shorts I can do, most of the time.
I definitely don't like belts or ties.

Actually, I do like belts, but only if I have cool stuff hanging from them, especially if I'm wearing more than one belt.  Then it just feels like I'm about to go on an adventure.

I guess you want pants for adventures...  shoes too...

I think the obvious lesson here is that we really need to work harder to live up to the inherent adventurousness of our wardrobes.


I'm not sure how good I am at blogging.

Thanks for reading anyway!

NEXT TIME:  Some Plans of Mine!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Welcome to the Manniverse.

"filter" sketch - from The Story of Celia

Hello there.

I had been undecided as to a topic for my first blog post (which is not anything important to anyone but me), but I have recently been inspired.  Inspiration hit while hearing one of my favorite artists talk about the what and why of his life's work.  Our tales are not entirely dissimilar.  

So, I will begin my blog, The Way of Mann, by simply telling you what it is that I do.  Perhaps you'll feel inspired as well.  That would be swell.
When I was a kid (maybe 8?  I'll guess 8... ), it occurred to me that most grown-ups had no idea how to talk to children.  I figured most people probably just forget how to think like children as they grow older and that's why most adults have no idea how to communicate with them.  I suspect the idea was somehow inspired by Peter Pan.  I believe this specific type of loss is also the primary factor that so-severely limits people's perceptions of the world.  Adults tend to place importance on much more "reasonable" values instead of focusing on gathering new experiences and making new discoveries.  They are prone to become dependent upon a single set of ideas and close off their minds.  Most tragically, they stop wanting to experience wonder and many stop using their imaginations.  With all of this in mind, I've made a conscious effort for the past two decades or so to keep myself continually in tune with those childlike aspects of myself. 

In short, I don't want to grow up.  I promised myself that I wouldn't.   Then and there, at the ripe old age of maybe-eight, I vowed to never stop thinking like a child;  to keep discovering;  to keep living through imagination.

That's important.

Moving onward, I create things.  At the most basic level, that is what I do.  I write stories and songs.  I make music.  I work leather.  I sculpt.  I draw - lots.  It's all compulsive.  However, my most important creations are my characters.  The words, pictures, and music are important, but they aren't nearly as important to me as these fictional people I've come to love and the worlds in which they exist.  You might think that's a bit silly, or a bit obsessive, but when you take into account the time I've put into them, even just in the past few years, it begins to make a lot of sense.

In late 2006 (maybe?), I began looking back over a bunch of characters and stories I'd created before I was 12.  I kept this specific material safely tucked away in a thick stack of manila folders that I probably "borrowed" from my classroom at the time.  I guess I packed away all of that stuff around 1995 or '96.  So here, ten years later, I came back to it all.  Most of it was less-than-stellar (as expected) though very cute, but there was a lot of it that shined.  It shined in a way that showed me I had not been entirely successful in keeping my promise to myself, especially through those too-many years of college.

Eight-Ball - range of motion study - from The Story of 8

Though most of my creative efforts at that time were concerted in music, college, and whatever bands I had going, I was working on some stories as well, namely a sprawling and whimsical sci-fi, The Story of 8, which was nearly destroyed when my computer and my backup drive (!) simultaneously crashed each other and I lost virtually an entire novel's worth of writing and research.  Forcing myself to start over on that project really did a number on my brain.  It took months of filling notebooks (a medium that couldn't be lost to the digital aether) with everything I could imagine about that story; its worlds and its people.  This was, at once, a depressing and inspiring experience.  It was shortly thereafter that I turned to my childhood's folders full of superheroes, spacemen, cartoons, and creatures.  I pored over years of sketchbooks and notebooks full of innumerable childhood ideas and my imagination began to spark to life like it hadn't done in years.  I then began the invigorating process of bringing all of these childhood ideas up to speed with my grown-up brain.

The result has been – in a word – awesome.

That about fills you in.  I've been working hard since then, writing and developing characters, worlds, and stories that I've been secretly living with for ten, fifteen, sometimes twenty years.  Though, of course, new ideas arrive all the time.  Here I've created a unified world, split into many realities (realities that have a tendency to overlap on occasion), densely packed with fantastic characters, amazing places, and lovable life-forms aplenty.  There are superheroes.  There are intricate alien cultures.  There are magical dream beasts, noble yachdi, and inquisitive land-squid.  There are experiences and discoveries here that are far more than I can describe in a single blog-post.  
I call it – the Seamworld.

That's important too.

I don't want you to feel like I'm trying to sell you on my ideas, even though I kind of am...  I just want you to enjoy them.  I've been sitting on all of these ideas for so long, keeping them inside, letting them grow, evolve, and stew.  Now, I want to bring my creations into the world for others to enjoy.   Stories.  Characters.  Music.  Worlds.  Ideas...  That's kind of scary.  I hope that they are loved.

Anyway, that's what I do.  I create things.  If nothing else, I feel like I'm better upholding my promise to my 8-year-old self.  I'm still refusing to grow up – and I'm using my imagination more than ever.

I'm launching this blog in conjunction with my new website.
You can learn lots about my creations there.

You should check it out if you haven't already.

Magnet Man symbol - from C.O.G.

I'm pretty new to the blog thing, by the way.
Let me know what you think.

Rest assured, subsequent posts will be shorter.