Sunday, August 2, 2015

Playing with Words & Pictures

Seems I’ve been dragging my feet for a while, not writing much, scribbling away in my journal, a poem here and there, reading mostly, wandering the bush, taking photos, visiting galleries, creating collages of words and pictures that interestingly have a way of crystallizing where I’m at as well as the direction in which I’d like to head. Making a concrete representation of what is happening internally is what often kick starts me on that next phase, though it also has a way of reminding me of my apathy and procrastination, my self doubt, my lack of courage to take the steps necessary to create the future hovering tantalisingly but frustratingly out of reach.

Hence the “Banishing Writer’s Block” blog title. Here I am, five and a half years since beginning what I’d hoped would result in a more productive writing life, and the results have on one hand been rather negligible. On the other hand the process has not been a failure, for over the past two years especially the creative venture I’ve been on has helped me focus, re-focus, see more clearly, contemplate, appreciate, dream, make connections, and look at things from a perspective other than the obvious.

I sit on the floor in galleries in front of a work of art and immerse myself in it, wondering what was going on in the artist’s head as the painting or sculpture or whatever came to life. Were they trying to convey something in particular, or simply allowing their own creative process to unfold, with sometimes surprising results far different from what was in their mind’s eye at the outset.

Gallery staff give me surreptitious glances as I sit for so long writing away. Thankfully the practice of taking photos, once forbidden, seems to be lifting from most galleries, a development I have fondly embraced, for many of my scribblings have no picture to go with the story of what I see, where I find myself within the work of art, how it speaks to me, what responses it evokes in me.

Our Artist’s Way group is working through Julia Cameron’s book Vein of Gold – A Journey to your Creative Heart, and one of our tasks a while back was to create a collage, our very own treasure map. Because images speak directly to the subconscious mind, they are a very potent form of wishing. For most of us the world is experienced visually, images evoke emotions, memories, dreams. A couple of hours flew by quickly as we sat on the floor ripping and cutting magazines, then arranging and sticking down the words and pictures, with fascinating results. We mulled over them for the next week determining what all the images represented for each of us, and it was interesting to find specific themes emerging.

I’d done one three months earlier, and the themes were similar, but I could see a slow progression with this new one, and now another six months down the track I’m putting together my second visual diary of words and pictures culled from magazines over the last year or so, stringing them together with my own commentary and reflections, and somehow in the process it embodies the essence of who I am, who and what I hope to be. It becomes a conversation with myself, and serves to encourage me in those moments of self doubt when I think life would be so much easier if I could just retire and put my feet up and potter in the garden instead of dealing with this incessant and insistent intrusion of words and the compulsion to put them together in some sort of order so they make sense or say something poignant or profound, prosaic or poetic, prodigious or at the very least, passable.
From my visual diary

For I know if I did that, retire and put my feet up that is, I’d get sick of myself pretty quickly, and have to go off pottering around everyone else’s gardens to keep myself occupied, welcome or not. They might appreciate the weeding, but it wouldn’t get me any closer to working through the briar patch in my brain that requires me to stop procrastinating and clear it out so there is fertile soil to work with once again.

Gardening metaphors aside, the struggle to bring something literary to life, nurture it, develop it, prune it when necessary, either to get rid of dead matter or whip it into shape, then see it through to its completion, is by and large the mountain too high I somehow cannot scale.

It’s all in the head I know, so while I attempt to get my head into a more prolific space, I’ll keep playing with words and pictures to see what they trigger. I’m up to page 28 of my 80 page visual diary, so maybe by the time it’s done I’ll either have given myself a good boost to get writing again, or I’ll be so tired of it I’ll be itching to get writing again instead of having sticky fingers. Either way, looks like the desired result could be the same.