Friday, March 18, 2005

Cri de coeur

So I was applying another coat of wax to the portfolio case, and really it looks quite handsome. It looks like I hoped it would - the hand-applied wax has a depth to it, a lustre that gives the thing far more visual heft than it deserves considering what I paid for it.

So I was rubbing and rubbing, and suddenly had the most unexpected and rather overwhelming feeling of "Why the hell am I doing this?"

Right now I feel like packing up my camera, and the lenses, and the filters, and the batteries, and the brushes and cloths and lens drops and the flash and putting them all in a bag. And then taking the bag downstairs, out into the street, where I will hand it to the first person I encounter on Sheridan Road, and never pick up a camera ever again.

I'm having one of those moments, one of those nasty scary moments, when all I can think is that if I were going to do something with a camera, I ought to have picked it up about, oh, 15 years ago instead of two. It feels like it's too late, the ship sailed, left the dock before I even got there.

What the hell did I do with my twenties, when I should have been living on a shoestring and polishing a craft and gaining experience? I took care of a singer who couldn't sing...and then of a drunk who abused me, used me up, and replaced me. I worked at jobs I hated because the former needed support, and the latter couldn't handle being hitched to somebody without a fancy title.

I should be entering the first phase of my artistic maturity right about now, or even the second. And instead I am still fumbling around with journeyman pieces and shots that right now seem no better to me than lucky snapshots.

I don't know what's wrong with my head. Maybe neverending winter just has me tired out, and work is certainly not helping. I can't stand the thought of facing either tomorrow morning.

18 comments:

leah said...

It makes my heart weep to hear that you feel that way. Though I do not tend to follow my own advice/beliefs in this regard; I don't think it's ever too late to pursue a passion. If you're willing to invest youself in it and you love it, I don't see why it wouldn't work for you. You have a sincere talent that has the ability to reach out to your audience... I'd hate to see you give up on yourself.

Rachel said...

Oh dear.

First, not that I am in anyway qualified to make a judgement, and really, it's just an opinion, and not an opinion from someone who knows a lot about photography, but who nevertheless recognizes creativity, inspiration, and that little spark that means someone has "it," when she sees it. It is definitely there. There is something really penetrating about the shots you have shown us. They aren't just photographs. They show a little more, suggest a story, invoke emotion. They just do.

Second, as someone who finds herself often wrestling with the "wasted years" of my twenties, and regretting my path that is only now getting me underway with my writing, and lamenting all these young authors with their brilliance at 22 and how can I possibly keep up, and really, is there even a point to starting now... etc., etc., etc. You know the drill. On good days, I remember that the truth is, I *was* working on my writing throughout all those years. And they temper everything I do. And helped make me the writer (and you the photographer) that I am (and you are). I will tell you one thing, I didn't need to know all those details of your life to know that you *were* working on the photography all those years, only it was a more internal process at that point. Now it is all about getting it external. And damn, you are.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear.

First, not that I am in anyway qualified to make a judgement, and really, it's just an opinion, and not an opinion from someone who knows a lot about photography, but who nevertheless recognizes creativity, inspiration, and that little spark that means someone has "it," when she sees it. It is definitely there. There is som

Juno said...

I have to respond because what you said touched me both emotionally and personally. I think that – if you spent those years doing things for the wrong reasons, making choices to care for others instead of yourself, that you weren’t ready. I don’t mean that it any kind of icky, pat way.

But there is a growth that comes out of letting go of old bad stuff. And the delicacy I see in some of your pictures is the delicacy of someone who has learned to see, to un-cynically appreciate the beauty and dirt and process of living. Most (I know, not all) 20 year olds can’t yet absorb the complexity of real beauty – particularly 20 somethings of our generation (I’m 35) who are uncomfortable with frank expression of genuine emotion and like to hide behind cool hipsterism and the cynical dark. How’s that for broad generalizations?

It is incredibly scary – I know this because I am in the middle of trying to leave my job and go back to school. And when I get panicky about it, I remind myself that the work I want to do I COULD NOT have done with grace and art, or even just learned to do well, when I was younger. It is happening now because I am ready and every moment of experience I’ve had goes into making it possible and making me better able to do it.

If you hate your cameras, maybe put them away for a few days. Do something that you enjoy in a less complicated way. Like knitting. Come back when the pendulum swings again.

Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Like Sister Teddy told me in the 6th grade "it's only a mistake if you dont learn something from it."

Learn from the past, plan for the future and live for today.

These bumper sticker inspitational messages brought to you by a fellow Pook.

Anonymous said...

come up for air...

life can be short, so follow your dreams...damn the 20-somethings! you've got maturity, you really project that in your work...life can also be very long, so you found something you can only get better at since you'll be doing it (and enjoying it) for possibly a long time. hey, I'm the cpa from the other day, and I struggle with doing something more "creative" and the fact that this is the highest paid most flexible work (so I can spend time with my kids) I can get right now.

don't give up

LynnH said...

When I'm down about my creative life (I, too, gave up creativity for a partner/drunk for 16 years), I remember this quote from Martha Graham, the woman who changed the course of dance in one lifetime, after starting dance as a young woman:
---
There is a vitality, a life-force, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares to other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open... No artist is pleased...

There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching - and makes us more alive than the others.
Martha Graham
(to Agnes DeMille)
---

FugueStateKnits said...

Hey, man, I went to law school at age 33 - with a husband and six kids no less! I was on the four-year night school plan. I was 37 when I graduated. My brother's comment was, "You can be 37 with a law degree or without, which would you prefer?"
You gotta admit, he had a point.
So.....keep on growing or die, right?
:)
Joan

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