Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Lately I’ve been feeling a bit “meh” about the art thing (“meh” is a word that needs to be said out loud with a slightly dismissive expression. Try it.)

There’s a lot of work I want to do and some I have to do. It’s creative, interesting and exciting. I’m producing lots of studies in colour and black and white, lots of designs, lots of photographs and prints. I have some good ideas about presentations, exhibitions and installations.

I’ve also organised the work into a practical production schedule complete with tasks grouped by category, timelines, due dates and priorities. I update these weekly and print out a list that tells me what needs to be done in the next 7 days. And, for once, it’s not the same as what was supposed to have been done in the last 7 days.

It’s all going really, really well.

But somehow …

I just can’t be arsed.

This was starting to worry me a bit because when I get like this I start looking for something else to do or somewhere else to go. I get terribly distracted and dangerously bored.

Fortunately, I caught a cold.

I didn’t feel too bad but my body and mind went into slo-mo. The days passed in an easy-going haze of paracetamol and alcohol.

Coming out of it yesterday, I got in the car with the aim of going to Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff to write for a while and catch up on my journal.

I drove for two hours but never made it to Cardiff.

I found myself thinking deeply about the real reason and meaning behind everything I do. About why I make art and write stuff. About the stories I want to tell and why I want to tell them.

I’d forgotten the point of it all.

In the film ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ there’s a scene where Steve Martin berates John Candy for telling endless stories that have no point (you can watch the 27 sec clip here).

I had got into the business of producing lots of words and images but forgetting what the point was. They had become uninteresting to me and I certainly wasn’t motivated to bore anyone else with them.

As I drove (on automatic pilot) (and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol) I rehearsed scenarios and conversations in my mind.

I told myself stories and remembered what the point was. I remembered that the words and images I produce are simply illustrations and explanations.

I remember reading something that Ben Okri wrote that was along the lines of “Our experiences don’t mean anything to us until we’ve told them as a story.” And it’s true, isn’t it? Something happens that makes an impression on us and we can’t wait to tell someone about it. When we do it comes alive with context and meaning. It makes sense.

So I’m going back to monitoring my production schedule, to producing words and images and to making and showing art.

But I’m also going to remember that what I’m really doing is telling stories.

And I’m going to make sure those stories have a point.

I’d hate for any of you to start calling me Chatty Cathy.

(That last line only works if you’ve watched the Steve Martin clip)

Oh how easy to forget the bigger picture. I think I must be at that point too, half way through a course, just plodding on. It is easier for me in some ways to think in terms of stories, as Storie is my surname and when I get despondent I think of those words that people have said about always having a story to tell. We all have really, and hubby's family were a great one for sitting around telling stories, obviously living up to their name. It was still a prod in the right direction though. Thanks!

Glad you are on track now
Joanna ... Stories are powerful ... don't ever forget!
I am always mightily impressed at your prep and organizational work. I always find myself either working or being distracted, nothing in between. A for the "meh! ~ bear in mind that it's February and we live in gloomy parts of the world at this time of year (check out my blog post! :).
Listen up, I'd bet 50p and my right teste (If I had one!) that any concerns you may have about being in any way 'pointless' would evaporate if you landed on the Weblog 'Everything is Pointless'. Now that's one joyless (and pointless) dude - and he doesn't even know it! - so you have nothing to worry about, in fact I think much of your output makes perfect sense of E.M. Forster's cryptic question - 'How do I know what I think until I see what I say?'
Luv and peace man!
Thanks Andrea! I do a lot of prep for my blog posts but I still think they could be better. I'm learning.

Del ... that's a great quote and true for me ... I sometimes think I'm writing as much for myself as for anyone else! Peace and luv back atcha!
Seems to be going around (and I don't mean the cold). I've had to do some digging recently myself to remember why it is that I do what I do, and to find some motivation to actually do it. Sometimes getting a little sick helps because it's a great time to be still and thoughtful - as you did.

(I know I've been out of touch for a while, but I'm trying to reach out again now, and your blog and Andrea's are the first blogs that I'm consciously seeking out for reconnection.)
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