Monday, May 14, 2007

find your own left bank


On Friday night I had dinner with friends. Lovely food and wine. I'd gone there from meeting some students of my last Artists Way class and so arrived already 3 glasses down. I hadn't seen F for more than 6 months, and H not 'properly' for 5.
Late on in the evening F kicked back and asked why H and I didn't spend half an hour per day doing 'proper' creative work not emailing and blogging and complained that he though creative all day and making money at it (composing for advertisements) wasn't creating something worth leaving behind. I countered by pointing out that blogs/ blogging/email have a kind of virtual community attached and one reason why people invest in them is that we desire community. We need a place to go where we feel supported encouraged, and that there are other slightly odd people doing the same. Basically what ever we would like to think, we are social animals and thrive with a community around us that supports us. Or 'Believing Mirrors' as Julia Cameron would call them.
Anyway the next day I dragged myself to an early bus and found myself in the company of these dear close family friends who have known me for 30 years. I grew up in the same street as them. As I entered their kitchen I exclaimed at the smell - exactly the same as their house in Edinburgh - instantly transporting me like a Madeline through the years, of strife pain and love to myself nearly 3 decades ago. I took my latest batch of Holgas to show them and V was convulsed by their lack of focus.
I'm convinced that we need to find and create and nurture our own lefty bank cafe in order to facilitate our creativity. I don't think creativity flourishes in a barren and rocky place without encouragement. I think encouragement and belief in each other go a long way towards our creations coming out.
Sheri Beinstock's book Women of the Left Bank popped into my head when talking to F (who is French anyway). This amazing confluence of creativity in the period of the Lost Weekend was partly because women set up structures formal and informal to support each other's creative work.
In addition to creative encouragement we need to feel generally that there are people who love and encourage us for 'just being us'. And I know that V is just such a person even if she thought my photos could have been sharper.

1 comment:

helena said...

I love their lack of focus, it really captures the movement of the party and the flashes of light (caught travelling in the milisecond you hit the button!).So support is one thing and opinion the other and the two are not mutually exclusive!

On more sober reflection (and after the amount of wine we did consume on Friday take that saying as you will!) I think that both of you are right. We do need a sense of community and support especially as most creative work is fairly solitary and self-absorbed and most creative people insecure about the worth of what they do. One of the reasons I love the online world is that with a couple of notable exceptions (i.e. you and the members of my family who read my blog) the support and encouragement I get is from people who I don't know, have never met and who have no reason at all to be encouraging or supportive. It makes what they say much more valid, because it isn't expected...

And yet F is also right, it becomes far too easy for our time to be eaten up with the blogging and the emailing and the online communities so that at the end of the day, we've spent a long time working on something which isn't our main creative project. For example, I can easily spend hours blogging (and I don't even want to begin to count up the amount of time I spent emailing!) to the detriment of my other projects - like getting the paints out or writing something which isn't a blog. I can kid myself that it's practice and keeping my hand in but at some point I need to stop practicing and start doing...(just as F said that he can spend hours a day practising scales to the detriment of getting down to the real composing of his stuff and not commissioned stuff)

In creativity as in so many things I guess it's getting the balance right and not using maintaining support as an excuse to not get on and do what we're meant to be doing. How you do that, I'm still trying to figure out!

But you do need time out - and I'm so glad that your weekend out was a good one!