My most recent new development is that I have started to work with an array of New England poets, painters and visionaries. Some very artistic karma is ripening and it's occurring as naturally as the buds coming to the trees.
Earlier this week, I found myself in the most astonishing studio I have ever been in. It is this hexagonal room overlooking pine forests and light. Buddhas stand guard. And the artist showed me her life's work. I can't tell more at this point, because I have just started to work with this miraculous woman in creating her digital realm, but she's an incredible talent. She is an artist from another age who creates objects that are full of wisdom and truth. My job is to help carry her stories into the world.
I spent a decade in Hong Kong interviewing artists of all kinds. I learned to sit with them and look at their work and ask simple questions. Then I would take all this information and sit at my desk in the newspaper or magazine office, listen to awesome albums of sound, and channel it all into words. I would write a story about an artist. That was kind of my job.
Then I moved to America. I moved into a tiny coastal city that is filled with artists. It's not a big city arts scene, it isn't a LOOK AT ME kind of a place. It's more like: don't come near me, I'm off working in the woods. So I have been somewhat at a loss: Where are all the artists? And how do I go about telling their stories?
Just as I was going through this shift, an interesting thing was occurring, on a bigger, planetary scale.
The whole alignment of how artists publicized themselves was changing. Today's artists — from writers to musicians, painters, poets and filmmakers — need to tell their own stories. Those magazines and newspapers that used to pay me a full-time salary, well they aren't the only channel anymore. They are becoming increasingly redundant. Social media has made us all our own story tellers. As Amanda Palamer said in this incredible keynote speech at the Grub Street Conference in Boston last week, this is "the age of the independent social artist."
This is all very wonderful, but most artists are too busy making art to be telling their own stories. And this is where my idea came in. Actually, it would be more factual to say that this is when the idea was given to me. It occurred while I was standing next to a pond at KMC New York at the end of April.
It came with the wind.
I had gone to the US Festival for a weekend of bliss and teachings and an empowerment with Green Tara, with Kadampas from all across the US. During a break in the teachings, I was standing by a shimmering pond with Jason Valcourt, an amazing singer and songwriter from Rhode Island and Felice Boucher, an award-winning photographer from Maine.
We were standing by the pond, sunlight was glinting off the golden vajras on the roof of the nearby World Peace Temple... and inspiration was in the air. Jason was telling us about his need to organize his marketing. As an artist these days, it's a bewildering world of Twitter and Facebook and where does one start? Felice was commiserating and adding in her own amazing marketing thoughts... and I stood there, as the clear light filled the air, and I thought to myself:
I want to tell your stories.
Then I came back home to Maine and maybe it was Tara's blessings, because soon my inbox started to show a stream of requests from poets and painters, even an artisan-cheese maker — would I help to tell their stories? It was uncanny. Think the idea, and before you know it, life will start collaborating with you.
It's all been quite a teaching on the creative process — and how to open up to it all.
Our universe is inherently creative — just spend time in Maine in May and you'll see the radical intelligence and geometric wizardry of nature. So I am learning to open up to the ideas wafting with the wind. There are out there, whirling. They are coming in at you in conversations and contemplations. They are the radiant blossoms just waiting to fertilize with your mind. But how open are you?