The other day, I had a(nother) kind of epiphany about my relationship with creativity and creative practice. I’d just finished MacGyver-ing a washing line in my living room, and was returning a ball of twine to a box I keep under my bed. The box also contains a load of old half-finished crochet projects, and I was suddenly struck by the realisation that I’d not worked on any of them because I’d wanted to; I had, in fact, worked on them because other people had put the ideas for them in my head and urged me to do something with them.
I thought August had brought with it a welcome return to being creative, as well as an overdue and very welcome spell of drier and hotter weather. You know, it was summer, after all. But, at the end of the month, I looked back on everything I’d done – primarily writing and sketching, and realised that I’d not, in fact, been creative. I’d not come up with anything new. I’d simply used these skills to describe, discuss and document various bits and pieces that had gone on around and to me.
With only a couple of weeks to until the end of August, it feels a little peculiar to write a metablog post talking about June and July – something I’ve felt before, when I used to write my metablog posts over on my personal blog, and used to get distracted or disillusioned, and left my writing until very late in the month. But, I’ll write – I’d feel worse than I do now if I didn’t get something down.
There comes a moment when you just have to recognise that things aren’t working out as you imagined they would. Typically, it’s a moment of awareness you experience ‘in the present’, to which you react and from which you move forward. I realised recently that I’d had such a moment back in late March/early April and that, due to various bits and pieces, I’d not been able to recognise it as such at the time. I experienced it ‘in the past’, as it were, and have found myself trying to ‘catch up with what this means for pretty much everything in terms of what I want to do creatively and professionally in my life’ for the last few weeks.
April was a strange month. The personal took over, and the professional was set aside – almost entirely. But, this was necessary; and, as I often say, what is necessary is never wrong.
In February’s metablog post, I spoke about how I knew I was “capable of more than a ‘simple’ review of my previous month’s creative activities and ‘update’ posts for my collaborative efforts” and how I hoped I’d take “a step in the right direction in March”. Cutting a long story short, I didn’t manage it.
February was a bit of a damp month, both figuratively and literally. I found myself working only on bits and pieces; whilst I enjoy working on bits and pieces, I can’t say I enjoy having only worked on bits and pieces. I also enjoy both saying and typing ‘bits and pieces’.
Welcome to what I call the metablog. I started writing these posts on my personal blog to serve as a diary of sorts about my experiences writing it – hence the name. As the months went by, they became more of a general commentary on my creative activities and my creative processes as I was writing less often. I made the decision to move them to The Five to Nine as I started this project specifically to explore and interrogate creativity and creative practices – my own, as well as others’ – and so feel that these sit better here.
In my first post for The Five to Nine, I spoke a little about not being particularly certain about the direction I wanted to take as I worked towards building a portfolio career in the creative industries. Well, there was once a time when I had quite a good idea of what I wanted to do. I was certain that, if I managed it, I would be living The Dream – my dream. It became clear that this dream wasn’t going to come true quite quickly, but I held on to the smallest piece of hope for five years. I clutched it to myself with such ferocity that it exhausted me. It drained me. This piece of hope became corrupted, and I ended up miserable and afraid for what would become of me because this dream didn’t come true, but I didn’t want to let go of it because I was even more scared of what it would mean if I did. Well, on 26 June 2016, nearly five years to the day since the idea came to me in a burst of inspiration and excitement, I suddenly let go. I’d not planned it; it just happened. And it felt good. Actually, it felt great. No – even more: the whole experience was formidable.
I remember when I first thought about a career in the creative industries, and what shape that might take – and part of me thinks I should feel some modicum of embarrassment or shame in admitting this, but I can’t bring myself to feel either these days. Mind you, there’s no pride in it, either; it’s simply a fact, part of my history, and if I start rewriting that in order to present myself to people as the kind of person to whom I think they’ll respond, then there’s no point in, well… Anything. Starting with honesty, as accurate and complete as memory will allow, is really the only way to start this story.