Friday, March 11, 2016

You spin me right round baby ...

Crikey I really am all over the place at the moment, hey?  Up and down like the proverbial yo-yo.

I think I know why ... i've got many sides to me but there are two distinctly defined ones that are in direct creative opposition to each other all the time - writing and painting.

Some would say these are the same thing, they are both creative forces. But they require different disciplines and they are dynamically contradictory.  The one requires tactile and intellectual, as well as spiritual immersion from the person's whole body and senses.  The other requires only intellectual and spiritual input. (Yes, I'm over-simplifying).    So in my quest to understand this, I thought of the 'pros and cons' if you like of either pursuit and see if a logical enquiry would help steer this rudderless ship of me onto the right course. 

Let's take writing first.
1.  It involves substantial inner reflection, peace and quiet, enormous concentration.
2.  It requires conscious planning, research, technical skill (not necessarily learned through a degree, but it helps).
3.  It demands confidence in the writer. If you are not confident writing, then you will not write. 
4.  It is something a person is compelled to do, utterly.  A writer doesn't generally dabble in other art forms, they write and that's pretty much all they need to do. Besides reading everything they can get their hands on. 
5.  It can be done basically anytime, anywhere  - you don't have to have a specific place to write each day, although Stephen King would argue that this is a prerogative and non-negotiable aspect of writing - i.e. that you have a writerly space, somewhere you can go to, shut the door and dream.  But there are other writers who have said they could do it on a bus, in a cafe, didn't matter.  I write in the car, basically 'cos I'm bored.
6. It's very easy to get distracted, when writing, and go off tangent.  It's easy to lose direction and become frustrated with your written output.   Projects can sometimes sit for years and never get finished.  There's a lot of guilt in writing (at least for me).

Then there's art - painting specifically
1. It involves complete physical immersion by the artist - motor skill, sensory perception, visual perception (to name a few).  It is the stuff of mythology, it goes back to the dawn of time.  Cave men were painting long before they knew how to communicate with the written word, it's in our prehistoric DNA. 
2. It does not always require planning.   Some of the best art is spontaneous and primal.  
3. It is something a person is compelled to do, utterly.  There is no getting away from it, no hiding, no putting it off 'til tomorrow. The urge to create (for any serious artist) is always there, one hundred and ten per cent of the time.
4.  It needs specific equipment and space.

So if I look at all that - the two are really similar.  Then if I take it a bit further and look at my working space at home and try and figure out how much space is devoted to one or the other pursuit - is it equal?  Forget about it.  Art - the production of art, the results of my artistic endeavours - almost completely fills up my room.  If I had a workshop the size of an aircraft hangar, it would be full of art.  I need no encouragement to paint, I need no outside stimulii, no prodding, no self-help courses, no pep-talks. It just happens, almost on a sub-conscious level.  I am creating art when I'm sitting in the lounge watching a tv programme, or going to the loo - I'm always thinking about what I can do next, how better I can expand my knowledge, where I can learn more tricks.  

If I'm honest, I know that I have to prod myself to write. I have to do the whole pep-talk thing. I have to plan and research (and usually I get bogged down in this process and lose interest in the actual written piece long before I've even started it).  Most of the time I see writing as a chore, a drudge, something to get done so I can concentrate on more fun stuff, like painting.
I am impatient with my writing, I look at it and I want to scream sometimes. It just doesn't do what it's supposed to.  I also lose interest in my ideas, sometimes even before I've started typing them up.
Or I get carried away with the beginnings of an idea and run out of steam fifteen thousand words later.  I have hundreds of half started/half finished bits of writing on my laptop, that I can't bring myself to delete. That doesn't happen with painting.

I start a painting, I finish it.
If it's crap, I get rid of it and start again - learn from that, move on, don't cry about it.
I don't hang on to old work that I don't like, I destroy it or recycle it

What do you think, Clive?



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