April 27, 2006

Momentum, after a long hiatus.

I was looking at the list of postings and realized that, jeez Louise, I haven't posted in a really long time. What a slacker I am! Sometimes life, work, sleep, etc. just seem to get in the way, repeatedly and with a vengeance. I've been meaning to post something for ages--ironically, about how important it is to keep working on your craft in order to maintain momentum--but I've been a blog absentee.

So anyway, there's no time like the present, while I'm waiting for a cup of tea to steep, and while I'm between two of the many busy little tasks that seem to breed like dust bunnies in my house.

I've been thinking a bit about momentum lately, both on a project level and on the larger scale of writing or art in general. It can be surprisingly easy to lose momentum, even for something you love. It causes me sincere heartbreak to admit this, but because I decided to change focus for grad school and study creative writing, I lost my momentum with visual art. I had to devote all of my time and energy to writing (and commuting).

When I got out of school, I was too burned out to do either for a while. Then, I was obsessed with having to earn some sort of income. Now, despite having spent four undergraduate years and one post-baccalaureate year studying visual art--two to three more years than I spent studying writing--I do about a tenth as much visual art as I do writing. If I'm lucky. And I'm sorry to have to say it, but that pretty much relegates it to hobby status. I'm not satisfied with that state of affairs. Even though I'm still pursuing some kind of creative endeavor, it's not quite the same.

It's very hard to maintain momentum as a fine artist, regardless of whether your pencil creates words or images. I don't know how exactly I'm going to manage to regain momentum with visual art while also maintaining a grip on writing, without somehow adding more hours in the day (or managing to make a living at one or the other).

But I have had some luck, at least, in maintaining momentum with my writing. I've discovered that sometimes a sudden standstill in one project means that I have to put it aside for a bit. However, it's important not to stop writing altogether. I switch to another project, maybe a short story that can be used as a pleasant diversion, something I can have fun with or that's been in the back of my mind for a while. Then I find my motivation and inspiration are both revitalized for the first project. If they aren't, then maybe it has to be set aside for a longer period of time.

I don't want to advocate abandoning anything, because frankly, as an artist, you should always save everything you ever did that has any potential in case you regain interest in it later. I firmly believe this. If you stole it from yourself, and it hasn't been published already, then it's not plagiarism, it's revision.

The ultimate message I want to convey here is that it's important just to keep going, no matter what. If you've stopped, then either something has superseded your art in importance and it has ceased to become a priority, or maybe you need to start a completely different project in order to keep writing/painting/whatever. Maybe what you were last working on isn't where your head is right now.

And as for me, maybe my head hasn't been in a visual place for a while. But it will be. I already have some ideas, and my sketchbook has seen some activity lately. Now if I could only find the time...

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