I have just listened to a conversation between the artist, Ben Quilty and the ABC RN Music Program presenter, Andrew Forward. They were discussing their processes for creating their arts.
Ben talked about practising and how much of his time is spent doing this. I guess any part of the time committed to creating is practise for whatever may follow.
I was reflecting on how I write whilst they spoke. Andrew stated that to begin a work, he must simply make some notation on paper with a 2B pencil: not too dark to erase when you change your mind and not too light to determine some degree of conviction.
I have spent many years with my Year 11 Chemistry teacher’s words bellowing in my head, “Always approach Chemistry with a pen, not a pencil. Using a pencil is indicative of a lack of confidence.” When I went to school it was still an era when whatever the teacher said was truth; and when it came to Chemistry, he was spot on, I lacked any degree of confidence!
It took me a long time to work out that, for me, using a pencil gave me choices. I could reconsider, change direction, bluster and then edit, allowing an idea to evolve.
I, too, must simply get a word, phrase or one lonely idea down (these days, mainly on to a screen) in order to allow a column or poem to divide cells and build.
I have always written. I have a book from my childhood in which the days before I began school, I tried to imitate the letters printed in it. In my teen years, I wrote tedious diary entries about my adolescent angst. In my high school years, a couple of English teachers gave me the idea that I could write. That was all the encouragement I needed and I believe I have written every day since then in some form.
I can recall walking from the high school to the local town hall to watch the Shakespearean play, The Tempest. Most of the dialogue befuddled me but its creativity was like what I imagine a first shot of heroin must be. As the singer, Ane Brun, has sung, The Tempest ‘let myself flow.’
Driving home from work, droving stock between one block to another, cooking tea and vacuuming my mind it turning ideas over like a child staring into a rock pool.
On the eve of last year, I wanted to write a poem daily but I lacked the motivation of an audience. My son suggested starting a blog and set one up for me. Within seconds of posting my first blog, someone in India clicked that they liked the piece. That was all I needed, the possibility of a daily audience.