Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reading Austin Kleon's delightful small book was filled with serendipity and pleasure. Jody and I were on the subway (Boston Green Line) just after leaving The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. I turned to page 73 in Chapter 4 "Open up your cabinet of curiosities." As I read his description of the Wunderkammern, aka "wonder chamber" or "cabinet of curiosities" in the homes of wealthy, educated Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries, I realized the "Isabella" is nothing, if not an immense "cabinet of curiosities." Her will assured that it would be shared, heeding Kleon's advice on that page, "Don't be a hoarder."
As "Harry The Librarian," I love the section later in Chapter 4, "Credit is always due." Kleon points out that "Crediting work in our copy-and-paste age of reblogs and retweets can seem like a futile effort, but it's worth it and it's the right thing to do." This recalls a conversation decades ago with library colleague Carolyn Noah, both lamenting the "borrowing" that was already widespread. "I'm a Librarian, and I believe in footnotes!"
Later, in a section of Chapter 7, "Don't turn into human spam," he counsels "You want hearts, not eyeballs." If you have a web site, you will know what that means. His quote on page 131 from record producer Steve Albini echoes one of my favorite self-improvement writers, Steve Chandler. Kleon tells us "Albini laments how many people waste time and energy trying to make connections instead of getting good at what they do, when 'being good at things is the only thing that earns you clout or connections.'"
In 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free, Steve Chandler tells how he and songwriting partner Fred Knipe "invested a huge amount of our time... to expand our network of connections in the music business. We networked and schmoozed... And if there was ever time left over, we also wrote songs. In the end, however, our biggest financial successes came from people we did not know. In the end, networking meant nothing at all. The schmoozing was an empty waste of time and ego."
I will finish this review where Kleon starts it, with the lesson of Chapter 1: "You don't have to be a genius."
I highly recommend this book to artists, writers, musicians and anyone who would like to indulge their passions and make a life-affirming, gratitude-filled impact on their world.
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