posted on May 15, 2008 at 9:23 pm

keep your eyes open for the smallest idea
it wont announce itself with pomp n pageant
when you find it believe in it cling to it
examine it
what is that inkling in our midst
what is that foggiest notion….?
look at everything
is that my idea?
be on the lookout for something ordinary
something you wouldnt normally even think of as an idea
consider all the variables
can any of them be manipulated
examine every aspect
go thru all the details
rapidly assess and discard all non-suitables
keep having faith in yourself
youre working with all the same elements as anybody else
everything is available to you
the colours
the sounds
the words
the great collective unconscious
your only lack has been self-belief
listen to that hunch
its whispering the key
be imaginative
assume you are the greatest
always searching for new input
gadgets and devices
drugs and moods
disciplines and collaborators
if you dont love it stop right now
who else will if you dont…?
maybe someone….
but better to love from ground up
build it on the foundations of love and belief
believe that the greatest symphony begins with one note
the most incredible painting with one dab of colour
the best story starts with one word..or a title
titles so easy to dream up
imagine your own titles
come on a title is painless
steal a title
get your title in place
you can title last if you want
but if things are slow start with a title
even if you have no other ideas
take your title
why did you pick it?
something buried in there telling you something
some satisfied connexion
maybe you think
oh my title will never be as good as so n sos title
until he uses it
then you’d like it
thats the kind of thinking to avoid
seize your title
embrace it
yes its yours!
its your beginning
its your masthead
its your flagship and vanguard
roll round on your tongue
write it down
print it out
make it go thru its paces
oh yes your own title
just stay with it awhile if you like
try it out on people strangers
pretend that theres more to it
watch their reaction to your title
quickly seize upon those imagined impressions
in other words
you meet x on the train
you say my new work is called ****
watch xs reaction
jump in behind his eyes
what is he seeing
you can almost pick up his thoughts
oh x says
i like that!
sort through his thoughts
anything you can use
any clues where your title wants to take you
sometimes the title is just a launch support
to be jettisoned as you take off
sometimes the title is oblique
cleverly oblique
or meaninglessly oblique
sometimes the title is the heart n soul of the whole thing
sometimes its a name
sometimes its a description
sometimes the 1st thing is an afterthought
when you got your title sorted
play with your variables
play with length
play with speed
play with the edges
play with the key
play with the tuning
play with the technique
play with the brightness
play with the shadow n echoes and obscurations
play with manner matter method
play with your mind
play with your settings
play with the truth
play with yourself
of course
you saw that coming
detect that good idea under all that dross
be prepared to throw stuff away
be prepared to take it back
be not afraid to be wrong or right
be careful
thats correct
take care
do it up properly or itll come undone
trust in the process
muddle through
know when its over
can you afford to drag it out
a slight return
when to end?
the poker players dilemma
yours too
not overdone
but not underdone either
finish it good
do it right
dont rush the end
let it take as long as it needs
dont lose interest now youre nearly there
its done
dont look back
move on move on
a new title
start again

40 Responses to “muddle through”

  1. avatar
    eek | 15 May 2008 at 10:43 pm #

    Damn you’re good.

    And you’ve said you wouldn’t make a good teacher. Bullshit. As you mentioned in another recent blog you’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but for the right person/people you would be the perfect teacher. You understand and have a passion for your art, for knowledge, and you are able to get that across. That’s what great teachers do.

    Of course you do have students — you have us. And now I, inspired, am going to go make some stuff. 🙂

  2. avatar
    the dean | 15 May 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    I attracted to those title attributed to old masters like “glass bowl of fruit” or
    “The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night”

    A literal statement of what it is, the rest is imagination.

  3. avatar
    knot | 15 May 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    the title of this nut
    “could you open this for me?”

  4. avatar
    A.M. Polydora | 15 May 2008 at 11:19 pm #

    Very serendipitous blog considering I’ve been struggling with “writer’s block” the past couple days.

  5. avatar
    Anonymous | 15 May 2008 at 11:21 pm #

    oh yes,but thats the way i do it too!!’D…only not consciously,or intentionally or even at times cohesively!….machines?mah hynie mackheeney mekka lekka high,mekka hynie ho!xo :Dfrabjious day .

  6. avatar
    captain mission | 15 May 2008 at 11:25 pm #

    just what i needed to read today, thanks, you have no idea how much that motivated me.

  7. avatar
    cita | 15 May 2008 at 11:40 pm #

    Insight into the creative process. Inspiring and exciting…just the encouragement we all need to get on with our own creative stuff. ‘Play’ is a big part of it all. That childlike, compelling urge to ‘play’ is underestimated in the grown up culture. Frowned upon even. Play is the key.Thankyou for your magic blog. It inspires me everyday.

  8. avatar
    Anonymous | 15 May 2008 at 11:43 pm #

    the artiste’s spirit chooses the copperwire thread,then through their mind’s eyes runs alongside the wolfe

  9. avatar
    princey | 16 May 2008 at 12:11 am #

    So that’s how you do it???

    I wish you had written this years ago sk, when I used to work as a graphic artist (before getting a real job – motherhood!) I struggled with “fresh ideas” all the time, especially with tight deadlines, other “know-it-all” opinions, and stupid products that had to be “glammed-up” to suck in the public that it’s something it’s not! It was hard to know if something was “overdone” or “underdone”, but you have to come to a point and just stop and move on as you put it. OOooh, I’m getting a headache just writing about it!!
    The only artwork I’m proud of is my “A Box Of Birds” cover that was chosen (many moons ago) along with another 7 fans entries for the one and only Church covers album!!!What a thrill that was (and still is) for me! (it’s the little things in life that make this girl happy!)
    Have a great weekend sk and ttb fiends,
    love amanda

  10. avatar
    Anonymous | 16 May 2008 at 12:18 am #

    titles – titles – well, my new LP is called “Desert Travel”, which was nicked from that CSTcoach website. thanks dude. well, I hope you don’t mind. Kinda should have asked before hand. Its a non profit venture I should point out.if that helps. over and out.

  11. avatar
    Anonymous | 16 May 2008 at 12:25 am #

    I really got a lot out of this one today.
    Many good suggestions and ideas to consider.
    This one’s a keeper.

    Tampa, Fl

  12. avatar
    Anonymous | 16 May 2008 at 3:24 am #

    twaz an orange day.there wazza goldfish named fluffy.there wazza goldfish named fluffy.wazzie?…haha!;-D

  13. avatar
    syrinx | 16 May 2008 at 3:27 am #

    You’re better than a cup of Egyptian Licorice Mint with agave.

    I needed an inspirational blog today. Five stars, three cups. Cheers, Mr. K.

  14. avatar
    tim | 16 May 2008 at 4:07 am #


    my latest project is called “psyche soup”

  15. avatar
    scott | 16 May 2008 at 4:25 am #

    You are beautiful, Steve Kilbey.

  16. avatar
    ...being here, doing this... | 16 May 2008 at 5:06 am #

    a very entitling post!

  17. avatar
    Lebrinho | 16 May 2008 at 5:25 am #

    “Without fantasy there would be nothing; Einstein would have foregone his
    relativity, Christ his ascension,
    Leonardo his Mona Lisa, Hitler his
    Third Reich and Betty Ford her clinic”.

    Salute your solution.

  18. avatar
    linjo | 16 May 2008 at 5:29 am #

    think I just blew a brain fuse trying to process that one, must be Fridayitis. Bit tired to think too much about anything except perhaps the next installment of Pokemon! (groan) Linda x

  19. avatar
    Thelonious | 16 May 2008 at 5:49 am #


  20. avatar
    verdelay | 16 May 2008 at 6:28 am #

    Oh lovely, lovely

    I have a strong recollection of doing precisely what you say here some years ago. Me and companero walking down yonder Northcote street: I got this new song, says I; oh? Yeah, it’s called GIRLS CAST SPELLS. Right! says he approvingly. Truth be told, the title had just been rolling around in my head all morning, and I just spat it out to see what it sounded like. Of course, I then scurried home and wrote the damn song – or let it write itself.

    8 years later, titles on my forthcoming record are:


    Titles are like little verbal holograms – tiny fragments let you see the whole thing.


  21. avatar
    Anonymous | 16 May 2008 at 6:47 am #

    “Ethel the Aardwark goes quantity surveying”..?

  22. avatar
    Barb | 16 May 2008 at 7:52 am #

    Hoi, haven’t posted here in a long time, maybe not since the Naughty Nurse days in Adelaide? But I just saw yer finally gonna be on Rockwiz. (Did they finally think to ask or did you finally decide to appear?) Also? I really liked this bit o writing. Sometimes your blog is more than the merest bit horoscopic for moi.

  23. avatar
    russell mael of sparks | 16 May 2008 at 8:40 am #

    Ron Mael of Sparks comes up with the best titles.

  24. avatar
    cita | 16 May 2008 at 10:01 am #

    Titles yes I remember your story about Starfish…and the essay you wrote to convince the powers that be that this was the title… what a title. It just is the title… that’s it no qualifying or justifying that’s the name of a brilliant church album. Hey it’s all in the title.

  25. avatar
    bosch | 16 May 2008 at 10:33 am #

    . tittle ;D 🙂

  26. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 16 May 2008 at 10:36 am #

    very sage advice today, whether it be in a creative or work context…being a teacher and coming up with new ways of doing and approaching things often takes that whittling away at a raw idea, modifying things on the run and being able to think outside the square…not all of us teachers are stodgy amd conformist…
    love always…

    ps hope things are ok for you now r.mark….

  27. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 16 May 2008 at 10:59 am #

    Forget Yourself…now there’s a title…

  28. avatar
    Anonymous | 16 May 2008 at 11:15 am #

    Poignant and precise, wise words of simplicity.


  29. avatar
    heather | 16 May 2008 at 11:48 am #

    Remember that book “the Artists Way”?

    Publish this, Killer, and you’ll make your fortune..
    and don’t forget your children’s stories….!

    better come up with a title though…

    anon 4.47 that’s a great title for a childrens book

    love Kittykatxx

  30. avatar
    Lebrinho | 16 May 2008 at 11:59 am #

    Raw translation engines like Babelfish give the best titles. I once got the sentence:
    “Life, and a mouse”.

    Also “God is large” was a splendid idea.

  31. avatar
    restaurant mark | 16 May 2008 at 1:31 pm #

    steve…that was just great today! you’d make a fine teacher…wouldn’t bore anyone, that’s for sure. i’ll probably read this one a couple more times. thanks.
    and since others are giving titles…two of my bands new ones are: 1) solitary refinement 2) the flowers and the powers that be

    ps-davem…sorry i started that man…for some reason i thought it was you who said you’d heard painkiller. as soon as you said it was matt, i remembered…sorry, a little slow that way. and like you said, can’t beat holding it in your hands, looking at the artwork, and reading the sleevenotes while it plays. i got into buying off itunes for a while, but missed having the real thing.
    my family and i are fine hellbound heart…thanks

    take care everyone

  32. avatar
    Anonymous | 16 May 2008 at 3:36 pm #

    don’t get the anons started on Ploog, Thayer and the title of Starfish! Please!

  33. avatar
    Cee | 16 May 2008 at 3:37 pm #

    Inspiration vibration celebration

  34. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 16 May 2008 at 4:18 pm #

    Steve Kilbey, the oracle, strikes again in supreme fashion.

  35. avatar
    Anonymous | 16 May 2008 at 4:38 pm #


    In life, as well as art.

    I now look back on my 32 years of self-doubt and paralysis by fear. Lately wondering how to find love in myself instead of finding self-worth in the opinions of others. I can almost grasp it, then it’s gone just like a breeze.

    And so I hear you:
    You are working with the same elements as others.
    Assume that you are the best.

    Feels like I can do this. Thank you.

  36. avatar
    fantasticandy | 16 May 2008 at 5:05 pm #

    donn’t over-anylize.
    it IS magic.
    simple as that.

    a great weekend to all!
    andy L.

  37. avatar
    fantasticandy | 16 May 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    analyize even!

  38. avatar
    davem | 16 May 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    It’s a gift you have SK. Didn’t you post a few months ago that your gift above PK, MWP and TP was in spotting the idea amongst the jam/mundane/dross? You can spot the potential.
    Anyway, patience is a virtue that I’ve never had the time for…..

  39. avatar
    MEM | 16 May 2008 at 9:39 pm #


  40. avatar
    CSTCoach | 20 May 2008 at 1:39 pm #

    that was a wonderful working manifesto. thanks!!

    “titles – titles – well, my new LP is called “Desert Travel”, which was nicked from that CSTcoach website.”

    hey anon-a-moose: sounds cool. will ya send me a copy??

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