Diehards

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Desperately Seeking Vision

I can't seem to get myself motivated to do any proper work at the moment. This is bad: I have my final portfolio to complete by September, and I am supposed to be working on a project (mentioned, I think, a post or two ago) with my writing group. I don't know what's wrong with me because normally I love doing this stuff. Normally I love everything about writing, from the moment of inspiration to the frantic scribbling it down, to the endless redrafting and editing. But I seem to have come to a stop. I need to untangle some of the threads in my head. I need to settle my stomach and calm down. I need to get to the 'fuck it' stage.

Thinking of my work as work, is, I think, turning it into something scary. It's stopped being play. It's stopped being: 'ooh, this is interesting, how far can I push it?' and has become a means to an end instead of an end in itself. Yet I don't really know what the end it's supposed to be a means to is; more work probably. (Here I could so easily go off at a tangent about the evils of the capitalist system. It's not all evil, I know, but I can't help feeling that these days we feed it rather than the other way round.) I'm so bored with the sound of my own voice, slurred, as it is, with this ever present whine. So picking up a piece for redrafting, or even trying to write something new, is waring. It's like going on a long journey in a car with a squeaky wheel: your whole body is filled with its endless wail so you don't see the Angel of the North as you pass, or smell the grass as a man on a tractor with his dog on the back cuts it, or taste the chocolate you nevertheless keep cramming into your mouth.

Bugger, bugger, bugger... I need to get back on track. Especially for the project because a) I don't want to let the rest of the group down, b) I know it will be fun once I get over this, and c) if I can do it it will help me with the other stuff. So, Liz Waugh and her life and work: I need to focus. The project is called: Words and Bronze: A celebration of Elizabeth Waugh at 80.


This (I believe) is an early piece. It makes me think of the south of France, of Picasso and Brancusi, and that wonderful early 20th century artistic turn.

I'm trying to untangle what I know, and how I feel, about her and her work – the artist is the work according to Nietzsche – synthesize it, and come up with something interesting to say. She lives in the Eskdale hills and works in bronze. She makes both animals (for animals sell) and nudes. She is currently trying to combine nudes and animals in the hope that she can both work on what interests her and sell it on. An artist needs to sell her work in order to be able to keep on working: feed the market so she can feed herself. She uses resin bronze, mostly, because foundry bronze is too expensive: people want bronze but they don't want to pay for it. This gives her sculptures added vulnerability: resin bronze is fragile, it might shatter if you drop it on a hard surface. She had an enforced break of 25 years because of marriage and all that entails – or, at least, entailed for her. She wonders, now, what her work would look like if she hadn't had to have that break, if she had been able to continue to manifest her ideas during that period.


A work in progress. I often like works in progress better than finished pieces, I love the colour and texture of the plaster and the lack of facial features on both creatures here.

Her nudes, to me, speak of the landscape in which she lives which is all green hills and valleys and little secret places. Fecund. All except one: a recent piece which is a one off – called One Off – this is a hollow shell of a creature clutching her knees, it reminds me of a dead pea-bug, one that has completely dried out, which is a tantalizing departure for me: the turn in the poem; the point of conflict that turns something lyrical into something interesting. But bugger me if I can make anything of it.


Empty lady

32 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

It's probably just a sugar comedown from the brownies & ice cream we devoured yesterday :)

Throw your portfolio together and leave it until a week before it has to be submitted. Then pull it out and either think, "that's good enough" or start a week long frantic editing session with a fresh eye.

In between, smell grass, look at statues and savour chocolate without thinking you have to write about them :)

Mary Witzl said...

I think I know what you're going through. If you're just writing for the sheer joy of it, everything is different.

A friend once invited me to go up to the Highlands with her. It was a really good chance to truly relax, plus I could concentrate on nothing but writing! I'd been writing up a storm before this holiday, but suddenly I dried up.

You need to work out a whole new rhythm so that you can get your writing done. You'll get there, but it's tough when you find yourself stuck. Keep looking at art: that always helped me...

PI said...

I'm feeling your pain, frustration and despair all too clearly with regard to work but I can''t talk about it which is a bit worse.
So forgive me if my observations on the sculptures are philistine.
The lady makes me think of dropsy and the lower one Belsen.
It'll get better - do what Kim says.

Titus said...

Eryl, no intelligent suggestions from me I'm afraid, but this might be interesting. The Weaver of Grass (link over at mine - no idea how to put one on a comment!) is having an Inspiration Wednesday when people are going to post on what inspires them to write. There's a full list at her blog of who's participating, and I'm sure it will be as diverse as it is interesting. Reading other people's stuff might jog your memory as to what actually inspires you to write. I need to find you some new skulls, I reckon.
This does the trick for me with the housework - just start and after half-an-hour it gets better.

Finally, that last bronze is hinting at infetility, or the loss of children or something to me. Among other things.

Mr Dunn too intelligent - I'm wiped out. Had you noticed?

Titus said...

Infertility. Infertility. See what I mean?

savannah said...

i wish i had the solution, sugar, but i do think kim has the right idea, take what's there, toss it in a neat heap until a week before and then decide...i get the feeling your best work comes from outside pressure. xoxoxo

Eryl Shields said...

Kim ~ you're right, that's what I should do, I know it.

You're right about the come down too, I've been hovering around the biscuit tin all day!

Mary ~ I definitely have a rhythm problem: I used always to work at night which meant I was a late riser. But these days there's always something to get up for so I'm now tired at my prime writing time. I need to learn how to write during the day. Also, I'm moving from prose into poetry, I wish I wasn't because it's so much harder but I can't seem to not. Now I can write neither prose not poetry very well at all. I don't think I perform well under pressure either, and I really do feel pressured, silly.

Pat ~ I should know what dropsy is because I've asked you before and you have told me, I'll look it up. I thought Belsen too, amongst other things.

Titus ~ I think I am beginning to have an idea about what I want to say. Actually, just writing this post helped a lot, and I've written three poems today – I say poems...! I think I might do a mind map in a second, and just brain storm some ideas then see if it gets me anywhere. I'm thinking 'infertility' too, I just need to connect the dots.

Eryl Shields said...

Savannah ~ somehow I missed you there! Outside pressure, really? You could be onto something, maybe I just need to wait until things are really boiling up, XXX

Tousled Raven said...

Oh Eryl - please don't panic! It will come together as it did for us all last year. I like Kim's idea. Have a word with DB if you can - he's full of very wise words for his young head.
Resin bronze isn't that fragile, but it will crack if you give it a hard clout ...but it can be put together again as well which is good! Liz is an amazing woman with baskets of talent and gets more so as she gets older. I'm in awe of her!

Eryl Shields said...

Raven ~ I'm seeing DB tomorrow, I may cry so I hope he's more equipped than Tom for that sort of thing.

Very interesting that resin bronze can be put back together again, very, very, very...

Liz is an amazing woman, that might be why I'm struggling: I tend to be inspired by flaws!

Scarlet-Blue said...

slurred, as it is, with this ever present whine
At least you're not slurred with wine.
If you're determined to do something then you will do it. You've got the frizzle before the storm breaks. It makes all your nerve endings stand on end. It's a good thing - your brain is arranging your thoughts into some sort of order... and then it will pour out.
Sx

jinksy said...

If I met "Words and Bronze: A celebration of Elizabeth Waugh at 80" it'd stop me dead in my tracks, not inspire me to write anything!! Why don't you just go and read Pics and Poems latest post, a la Weaver?

Eryl Shields said...

Scarlet ~ thank you for your confidence in me. I think you're right it's beginning to bubble up a little, I just wish it didn't take me so long!

Jinksy ~ Hello, thank you for that I went over and read the post and you were spot on to recommend it: now I see where I'm going wrong: too much forcing.

Coffee with Cathy said...

I hate it, too, when I reach that point where I bore even myself. At least you recognize the symptoms and can work through it. And thank you so much for your art insights. Fascinating!

willow said...

Inspiration and the creative process are always intriguing. Thanks for stopping by WM. I enjoyed by visit here, as well!

steven said...

hi eryl, what a great post, cool blog as well! the whole dance between work and play is really tough. i teach. somedays the work is hard play which i equate with creativity. somedays it's hard work which i equate with - well work!! i loved the bat story - it would've been cool for the bat to get out in the middle of harry potter to lend it some real colour!!!! ha!! have a great day. steven

Eryl Shields said...

Cathy ~ I can recognise it, but not sure if I can work through it, I usually end up trying to shut it out with music, a visit to the city, and reading other people's work.

Willow ~ glad you enjoyed it, I love your blog and will drop by often from now on in.

Steven ~ thank you, hard play, that's a great term! From now on I'll try to think of what I do as that.

I'd have had a heart attack if the bat had suddenly leapt from inside my jacket in the middle of Harry Potter, but it would have been cool. In years to come, if I'm anything like my mother, I'll probably tell it that way!

Emerson Marks said...

Have you tried standing on your head? They say it clears the head. Although be carful about doing that sort of thing.

Elizabeth said...

I feel sad for the empty lady.
Writing is easy as someone said: just sit down and slit your wrists.

Writing is absolute torture, but not writing is worse.
A mis-quote from Paul Auster.
Cheerful grretings from New York

Eryl Shields said...

Emerson Marks ~ I've not tried it, but I'm willing to try anything so I will try sitting upside down in my armchair and see if that works, if not I'll try the whole standing thing.

Elizabeth ~ I feel sad for the empty lady too and I have a feeling that's my way in. Paul Auster is right, even misquoted! And writing is a kind of blood-letting too, thank you.

Titus said...

Hi Eryl, I've done my going-out event and just dropping by to say yeah, it has been a good fun day! Good luck tomorrow. You'll be cool and Italian Vogue.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

This was really interesting - your thoughts about Waugh and the creative process. Glad I found your blog via Weaver of Grass!

Eryl Shields said...

Titus ~ thank you, I think I'll flick the ends of my eyeliner to make sure.

Raph ~ thank you for coming by, glad you found it interesting. I'll come and see you now.

debra said...

Eryl, I was sure I had commented, but not so. Tis part of my overloaded brain syndrome. Kim 's words are wise, I think. And I shall send you chocolate if you'd like.

Eryl Shields said...

Debra ~ Kim's words are wise, but you know what, I've got such good feedback from all you guys that suddenly I feel I no longer have a problem? Tomorrow I will begin again, and this time it will be joyfully.

Brother Tobias said...

You seemed to be doing pretty well writing about her and her work in your post. Perhaps you should write all your assignments as blogs, then cut and paste them - an informal context for releasing the formal. Or something.

Kim Ayres said...

:)

Eryl Shields said...

Brother Tobias ~ there is something about blogging that does whatever the writing equivalent of loosening the tongue might be called: it's a bit like holding forth at the end of a bar full of interested, and interesting, people.

I wouldn't want to torture any of you with my unpolished fiction and poetry though.

Kim ~ thank you.

Jimmy Bastard said...

Hasn't every genius gone through times of clouds and turmoil?

Believe in yourself doll, you're a winner.

Eryl Shields said...

Jimmy ~ thank you for that most gentlemanly comment.

Dave King said...

Your project sounds wonderfully exciting, but I understand the frustration you appear to be feeling. The way in which we think of our work does vitally affect the result, I think. For an author it can affect the register in which s/he writes I have found. The worse thing is that such issues can form a vicious circle and be very hard to break out from. I don't have any easy solutions, except to say that the feeling doesn't appear to have affected the writing of your posts. Perhaps start there? You are looking at them differently? Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Eryl Shields said...

Dave ~ Hello, and thank you. I think you are right: I look at blog posts as communicating with friends and don't feel any pressure to get them perfect. Whereas I feel a great deal of pressure to perfect the work on my portfolio. And as far as the project is concerned I think I'm a bit worried about offending the literary festival going public, or even Liz, not because I want to say anything bad but because I might be misinterpreted due to my not paying enough attention to my choice of words or punctuation, or whatever. Something like that, anyway.