I am struggling creatively, I am not going to hide from that. Even simple technical practice has fallen by the wayside as my motivation has waned considerably in the last month. The clearing of my office and regeneration of my creative space did not ignite a single spark of inspiration, I was relieved, mostly, that I did not sink into a glum desperation.
As I rewrote my autobiographical introduction, somewhat unsatisfactorily but without mind of what would be a brighter more engaging alternative, I remembered the heady days pre-blog. The days of planning, excitement, looking at blog planners, and pricing, hosts, thinking of names and looking at themes, dreaming of content, subscribers, followers, advertising revenue, and writing that book, always writing that book. Then I stalled in a mire of self-doubt and guessing, then I plunged, I discovered, I floundered, I surged, I fell, I rose, ultimately somewhere I got lost and I used the words work and job in the same sentence as my blog. Where I had been inept but enthusiastic, I was dreary, run down, and no less capable than before with the added wisp of mistakes not from passion and the rush to publish and share but rather desire to shed the burden. It had all gone very wrong.
This wrong turn was all my fault, I had not taken the word of a guru or some great blogger. I had done what I had always done, read around my subject and synthesised a plan and executed, except in reality I hadn’t done that at all. I told myself I had. The truth was bleak, rather stark.
I was about to use the serious down turn in my health as “reason” for this, then I thought perhaps it excused me. I have been lost not in my writing, not in my art, not in my craft or my expression, I have been lost in life. I was finding a place, an identity I liked and was accepting in positive ways as being me and before I had fully fitted and gotten comfortable with the person I really was and all that had happened to make me who I was. Before I could assimilate the fact that I was not the negative predictions, not the put-downs, but that I was my achievements and did not have earn approval, love or acceptance but that were available unconditionally to me my identity was swept away and replaced with a new one.
My new identity, it’s disabled badge, the management of M.E. the aphasia, the clonic seizure jerks, all the idiosyncrasies that come with the new landscape that I have to understand and map, arrived instantly without warning or permission. It has been a very difficult road, looking at death as an immediate not as a distant or theoretical occurrence, the blackouts waking a week later in hospital, the stress on my loved ones and my exit from the world or work, just like that. No party, no fanfare, no goodbyes, no cards – just over. Paperless has somewhat ruined the drama of this landmark.
There I was, thinking I could live and create, transition into a distinct part two of my life seamlessly somehow. It was never going to be like that; my life was an elegant balance with my income for the most part derived from doing what I enjoyed doing, my hobby being my passion, my work being derived from my passion, and my personal life better than I could have dreamed about as a young boy. Not without the mini-drama and challenges that life brings, but set at a positive, optimistic growth-oriented baseline that was supportive and primed for achievement, love and nurturing relationships. Hard work and relationship investment had paid off.
With the changes, that investment was a cornerstone of my building from hitting low and dark places that depression takes me. And I am in that building transition, I am no longer pretending to myself, or the world that I am not struggling creatively, that I am not in a rebuilding place, that my personal journey has changed me. It has changed me dramatically. I am not a practitioner of my old craft, so much as now I have decided to pursue the artist for arts sake within me to see how deep that particular rabbit hole runs.
This is a challenge; I am not drawing hugely on old skills and I am stepping into the unknown. This is not technical in the way I am used to, the rules are different and many of the rules are merely guidelines (like many a profession) when you get proficient. I have had a voice, previously it was marshalled and part of a debate, now I feel art is expressing and creating context for that expression, art is what it is, and what it is, is art; a nonsense sentence that somehow captures how I feel about much artistic expression, my own included. With no formal training, impaired motor control and wavering confidence, zero experience, art feels like the lions den, I feel less artist and more lion food than ever.