Mr. Bob Ross and I have been hanging out quite a bit lately. Something about his baritone voice and the tisking of paint brushes and scratching of the knife against the canvas is quite calming. Come to find out, my reaction to this particular show is based in science: ASMR (autonomous sensory median response). I’ll spare you the details—if you’re curious, you can look it up.
I was in a coffee shop not too long ago where I’d drug in my laptop for a quick writing session. The store was streaming The Joy of Painting, and about twenty minutes in, I wondered why I could barely hold my head up. Because I’ve trained my brain to use Bob Ross to relax… I nearly fell asleep on my keyboard.
The effect he has on me is soothing. A twenty-five-minute “hush, world,” if you will.
Lots of happy trees living in the brushes.
Lots of free and happy little clouds.
Lots of happy little accidents.
Lots of Bob cleaning the brush against the leg of his easel, declaring “Beat the devil out of it.”
“I bet there’s a lot of stuff you’d like to beat the devil out of.” Little Miss Muse annoys me as I’m trying to write this post. She’s eager to get on with another of our projects, and this blog was not at the top of her to-do list. So she hangs behind me, wings flapping in mid-air and reads over my shoulder.
“Yes. Some days, you’re the one I want to beat the devil out of.” She slows her flapping and lights on the desk. All polite like. And innocent. As if.
One of Bob’s phrases has become my go-to inspiration lately: Plagued with dissatisfaction.
He explained letters from aspiring painters wondering how to determine if a painting is “good enough.” In other words, when to stop fiddling with it and call it ready for a signature.
He grinned at the camera and said it again. “I hope you’re plagued with dissatisfaction.”
That feeling that it’s never good enough keeps you going. If you’ve painted your ultimate masterpiece, what’s the point of painting ever again? No artist at heart is ever totally satisfied with a creation, so they must call the current work done, then begin fresh on a new canvas.
Dissatisfied but happy.
The next time, our mountain will be crisper. The next time, our evergreen won’t smudge. The next time, we’ll add more layers of depth to the background. The next time, we’ll take the happy little accidents and turn them into… magic.
There’s grand inspiration in this plague.
In writing the next story to practice a new technique or explore a new “what-if.”
In writing the next blog, because the last one was just so-so.
And another. In case my life can brush against yours, and we can learn from each other.
Another story collection.
Another attempt at cover design.
I hope I remain plagued with dissatisfaction. Enough so to write, release, and repeat.
To be plagued with the next idea. And the next. Because I’m not the best writer I can be yet.
I hope I never am.
I hope I’m so plagued that I never quit learning or striving for the next milestone.
Here are B.A. Paul’s (and Little Miss Muse’s) stats as of March 2023:
Two-hundred! I’ve been doing these since the summer of 2018. The first hundred were pulled off the site and compiled in Life Along the Way.
So, it’s time for the second creative nonfiction “blog book”: Life All Over Again.
By the time this post goes live, the manuscript will be in the final proofing stages and, if all times out well, it’ll be ready by April.
One thing I’ve discovered along the way: The Writing Bug behaves much like any disease-causing pathogen.
It takes hold and spreads to one area of the brain, then the next, and the next. It’s all-consuming.
But it is, by far, the most fun you’ll ever have with a plague.