Jan 26, 2015

Rise of the Faceless and Famous

Many of us have heard her voice. Many of us have listened to her songs. But not many of us have seen her because she is faceless. And in my opinion: fearless.

Cover page of Billboard Back Issue Volume 125, Issue 42
Sia Furler is a singer songwriter, who wrote with and for Beyonce ("Pretty Hurts"), Ne-Yo ("Let Me Love You"), Rihanna ("Diamonds"), Katy Parry ("Double Rainbow"), David Guetta ("Titanium"), Britney Spears ("Perfume"), Christina Aguilera ("You Lost Me"), Jesse J ("Breathe"), Celine Dion ("Loved Me Back to Life"), and many others. You may not like her songs, but you can't deny there's talent in them. Not just anyone can write hit records in less than an hour (literally)... but Sia certainly can.

I never really expected to be blown away by her songs, and I wasn't--at first. Then, the more I listened, the more connected I felt to the music. There was something sad about her tone, something real, that I couldn't quite shake. So I looked into more of her work and discovered a well of underrated talent. And inspiration.

With the release of her newest album, 1000 Forms of Fear, Sia decided to present herself as faceless to the media. She didn't want to show her face because she didn't want to be judged (like she had been before). She doesn't want to be famous, and her decision over her appearance (or lack thereof) is a way to control the situation--a decision I view as difficult and gutsy.

Fearless, even.

In her Anti-Fame Manifesto, she writes, "Imagine the stereotypical highly opinionated, completely uninformed mother-in-law character and apply it to every teenager with a computer in the entire world. Then add in all bored people, as well as people whose job it is to report on celebrities. Then, picture that creature, that force, criticising you for an hour straight once a day, every day, day after day... So me and fame will never be married."

People focused more on what she looked like than how she sounded--which is pretty sad because a face doesn't sing. A person does. And I often feel that famous figures are considered different from the rest of society. But they're not. They're people (just like anyone else) with feelings, pasts, and futures. And when these famous figures happen to be singers, their music should matter more than their appearance. So Sia can present herself in whichever way she likes (or not at all) because it's the music that counts. It's why we're listening in the first place--the rest is just noise.

Although she's somewhat mysterious, Sia opened up about her past with drugs and depression. Things were rough, and the fact that she spiralled down and bounced back up again is inspiring. The fact that she gave what she loves and what she's good at another chance despite everything is inspiring. The fact that she had the strength to admit it is inspiring fearless. To me, 1000 Forms of Fear is a testament to her determination and courage. Her story made me feel a kind of stirring that, though hard to describe, is what all content creators should seek to generate. And she did it just by being herself.

That and, really, her songs speak volumes.

Jan 5, 2015

Writing Law: Negative Space is Positive Space

Starting things has never been my strong suit. If I'm being honest, starting things is scary because there's so much pressureunspoken words, curious readers, anticipated feedbackthat it becomes overwhelming. And because of that, I am a constant victim of Writer's Block.

Whenever I ask about writer's block and how to cure it, I always get the same answer: "just keep writing." It's easier said than done, and honestly, incredibly unhelpful. The whole point of writer's block is that you're unable to write anything; ergo, it's an invalid answer. So I thought about it and decided to make my own cure.

1. Be your character (aka become an actor) 
    -What's your reaction?
    -Do characters develop?
    -Are characters stand-alone/ self-actualized?

2. Be your reader (aka become a bystander) 
    -Is this realistic?
    -Is this exaggerated?
    -Can the readers relate?

3. Be the creator (aka become a thief) 
    -Get inspiration from your surroundings
    -Create the world, action, and characters
    -Create, create, create

Blank pages are threatening. They're every artist's worst nightmare. But recently, after speaking with a fellow painter about art and its creation, I realised not all blank pages are bad. Blank pages, or what she refers to as "negative space," is actually liberating.

"I like to imagine it being light or something visceral," she said. And really, that's what art is all aboutseeing something that isn't really there. Instead of seeing the blank canvas or page, imagine the story you want to write or draw, and then simply "trace" it. Because really, the negative space you're staring at is teeming with your imagination.

You just can't see it yet.