@Ineedtocreate tweeted today: Procrastination turns into stagnation.
My first though, seconds before I hit retweet was, “No shit Sherlock.”
Moments later @dooneystudio tweeted a link to her blog post about how people will work a McJob even while sick but not put forth the same effort for their art.
I’m not sure what it is lately about the internet but every thing that I need to have spoken to me has hit me with a right left combination and left me reeling. I graduated from UMaine in 1998. I went out into the world fully expecting to keep making art while I was teaching art to High School students. My outlook rose colored, I entered the workforce completely unaccustomed to getting up at 5am and working for 8 hours straight at something that that really didn’t interest me that much. I had a set curriculum to follow, the demand that I learn pottery though I abhor the process and a couple of rooms full of teens that didn’t give 2 shits about art.
My expectation was that I get my work into the local gallery, sell from there for awhile and then graduate to one a little further away and so on, until my stuff was hanging in Portland and or Boston. That is a very achievable goal for a hard working artist in the area in which I grew up and found myself dumped into after graduation.
What I didn’t expect was to hate the reality of waking up at 5am, as a certified night owl, 5am is a HARD wake up time for me, and if I wake that early I need a nap around 2 pm. (At the DayJob I often close the door to my office and power nap for 15 to 20 minutes or nap in my car.) I didn’t expect to really dislike some of the kids, and I mean dislike with a powerful burning passion. I had the student who threatened my life as well as the drugged out student athlete who drove around my home town until he found where I lived and would drive by late in the evening yelling things*** at the house and tossing beer bottles into the ditch. I also had the Principal who found out I was gay and harassed me daily and offered no support to me.
5 months into my teaching career my first serious girlfriend and I split after living together for close to 2 years. Losing my best friend, lover and support network all in one go drove me into a pretty deep depression. I stopped drawing, painting and meeting what few friends I had in the area. My life became a misery of 5 am wake ups, a grind of work, eating an unhealthy meal, spending time on the internet and watching network TV until 1 am. I hated my job and I hated my life.
A couple months into my misery a friend of mine came to visit me, unannounced as many of my friends did at the time; and as I’d stopped answering phone calls. I was sitting on the front doorstep attempting to draw the birdbath in pastels and failing miserably. Pastels had been a standby in school, something I could whip out a reasonable drawing with in little time and have it come out with reasonable accuracy. I vividly remember her asking me what I was drawing and me essentially having a hissy fit and tossing my drawing board to the grass. Normally I don’t display strong emotion, especially anger to my friends and my temper tantrum shocked her. We talked about the crap that was going on in my life. Instead of talking about the misery and abject depression; I expressed anger at my job and the goings on there. I was so hopeless at the time that I could only focus on those small petty incidents at work and was unable to express the deep misery I felt and the constant trauma and drama my ex was inflicting on me via the phone hence my not answering*.
I let myself procrastinate in my art and thus stagnate in my whole life. Shortly after that visit from my friend I managed to royally screw things up with her by being a complete asshole and at the time refusing to apologize**. I look back and realize that part of that screw up was that I didn’t deal with my depression and more importantly stopped working on the stuff that really mattered to me. I have ALWAYS been more happy in all aspects of my life if I am arting in some manner. It doesn’t matter if I’m drawing from life, working in my art journal or smearing paint on a page.
Since that time I have gone through a series of McJobs that I’ve abhorred and some I’ve liked (current job) but none that really address my passion: art.
So my goal for the next 2 years is to keep working on my art and put as much time and effort into it as I have the last 7 years working for the “man.” I want you, my readers, to help keep me on track and I’ll help you stay on track too!
*Another vivid memory I have from that time period is when a girl I was dating visited me and my ex called me, within 2 minutes she had me in tears, great sobbing hysterical tears. I was as appalled by my display of emotion as I was that it occured in front of this girl whom I'd been rather casually dating. I think, in a moment of panic, she did all she could enveloped me in her arms took the phone from me and hung up on my ex.
**I had an incredible crush on this woman and was unable to express to her how I felt. Instead she visited me and some of my friends came over as well and I was horribly rude to her. I was instantly embarassed by my behavior and could see she was hurt. However, I refused to apologize and dug my heels in. In reality I didn't apologize not because I felt I was right in my behavior but becuase I couldn't begin to admit how wrong I was. I tracked her down recently and apologized. She forgave me, but really the apology was 11/12 years too late.
*** The student was unaware but I was a well armed red neck and a damn good shot. I had several larger guns in the home and am knowledgeable in their use. I let this slip one day while he was in class. My well concealed threat was taken to heart, the drivebys stopped.