And least time of all for doing the things on which one's heart hangs - making new textworks, a bookwork, new chapbook of non-serial poetry, a short story booklet, fashioning a small cabinet of curiosities, wire, leather and acetate craftworks, visual art and craft related pathways, poem-in-a-boxes, making moondials...getting to a philosophy conference to finish a collection of geometric poetry, and finishing 'Porlock and the Monad Machine'. And doing them all to stave off the inner voices 'well - you're not much of a garden designer! or a fine artist, still not professional at photography and your films - minutes of them, such as they are! are hardly worth putting on YouTube! Pah! call yourself an artist??? I thought THAT'S what you said you wanted to do!' To fend them off saying, 'we must do what we are good at, and what's at hand, branch out from what we know, try new things, but never just launch out blindly into something that's clearly a dream, with no knowledge or forethought - it is good to make anything, and I must make what I can and have the materials for - go away! with your impossible targets. Why are you bothering me? Is is not hard enough to sell books and get gigs and funding to support the newsletter, make a living?'
Some people want to do everything. Others want to do nearly everything. A clone or several would suit many folk, especially creative ones. Sometimes I get hypnotised by all the things which I want to do, which include; video maker, actor, visual artist, sculptor, multimedia artist, crafts including jeweller, glass maker, blacksmith, too many skills to list, architect, garden designer, interior designer, lighting designer, set designer, photographer, contemporary dancer, choreographer, musician / composer, pianist, harpist, opera singer, maze designer, folly builder, shell artist, live art / theatre maker, site specific artist and performer, and lastly novelist, poet, performance poet, text artist... Why lastly? It sounds stupid, but the things that are hardest to ditch or to value are things which people have told you you're good at. Words. Since school people have said as much (though 'recognition' is something else again). But of course things we most value are the things in which we have least confidence that we have striven hardest towards trying to become - visual art in this case.
How can one possibly do them all? How can one pull off the Jean Cocteau stunt of making films, making art, doing all kinds of stuff and still writing books so good that other people would be proud to be known for just the one - whether the poetry of 'Tempest of Stars' or the novel 'Les Enfants Terribles'? Some would say that it's all contacts, opportunity and money. Once you're well connected and loaded, it's easy, just to have an idea is to have the power to follow it up...given talent, true enough up to a point. (However that is not to denigrate in any way whatsoever Cocteau's genius. He is undoubtedly one of my own major influences and completely gifted). And everyone else? Well, in order not to suffer endlessly - and uselessly - from a restless soul, I try and combine arts and make little corners and spaces of time to follow up things so that they don't spill over into work, but also so that I don't end up hating work - Spoken/Written for instance - for not allowing me the time to do what I wish I was doing instead. I may not be an actor in a theatre company say, despite my drama training, but I bring all my acting instincts and accents to being a storyteller. When I do get a show on an indoor stage, I can bring my lighting and set up the visuals, thereby pacifying the inner set and lighting designer struggling to get out. I may not be paid for my photographs, but I can put them into slideshows, use the skills to set up shots for the shows, the Collective website, the works of the other artists. The charm of that never wears off. With visual art, I have now collected so much stuff it would be a crime NOT to make stuff! so decals, braids, all kinds of small things are happening in odd moments, encouraged and enthused by the rest of the Collective - one of whom taught me just last weekend how to make willow rattles! With all kinds of things brought together because of the Collective, I find myself surrounded with new materials - leather, wire, fabrics, card, and it would seem churlish not to make things. So, it happens. And the visual textworks, the nearest to 'artworks' that I did during a writing MA at Plymouth U., well they too are more likely to get new friends made to stand beside them. Dance / movement can be brought into storytelling or performance poetry given the right context. Every digital camera pretty much has some sort of video setting - what's wrong with a film three minutes long? or five? It's just getting the shots organized. A matter of making some time. If you felt the need, even a YouTube to share them on! I'm also trying to carve some headspace to finish the Cabinet of Curiosities - using historic design quirks as inspiration... Anyone can sing (well almost anyone!) and everyone gets better with practice. So practice! There's a new keyboard player/artist living in the atelier, and the Collective has a garden designer, an architect, a jeweller, a fire dancer, a textile artist...And what we each have, we all share! Do you know, I think things aren't so bad...?