A fledgling artist (well, more fledgling than I am) was texting me the other night about how he feels artistically blocked. We then have a text chat about creativity and I give him some tips but he still refuses to pick up his pencils and draw. I say fledgling, but he’s in his late 30s and says he has just started on his road to becoming an artist.
A singer – songwriter in her late 50s writes on her Facebook that last night’s show was half sold, the last time she played there (in Australia) she sold out 2 larger venues and wonders “is it worth it? Has everything I’ve ever done been any good? Am I doing this for nothing?” I was the first to respond: “if you filled even one heart last night, it was has been not for nothing”. A flurry of responses, some encouragement, some practical reasons as to why it had undersold. A bit later on she thanks us.
Most times I feel a little in between these two: Not a fledgling but also not a famously established artist, though still fairly “early career” as an artist theatre-maker, mid-career as an actor but often I feel, when I’m up against it, “Does it get any easier?”
From that example from the singer- songwriter’s private Facebook wall, no it doesn’t, the problems are different. She wouldn’t have a problem getting a record deal if she wanted to move label. Does she find it difficult to write another song? Another album? I suspect not, though her last album consists of songs written by other people, it is no less artfully chosen, intimately arranged or breathtakingly open in her delivery than her previous 3 albums. Whenever I feel blocked I go to her albums, for if only to step up to the plate and feel as open as she does.
Does it get any easier? I think so. The problems of starting are fewer but I’ve got a certain level of confidence now, I know I can overwrite and edit myself, a process I’m learning as I go now, but perhaps it’s a case of keeping it in the notes so that the director can read it all.
I’m saying that it gets easier… This is even before I’ve found the financing for my projects. I’m just at the starting blocks (no pun intended there) to another solo show and I’m working with a director who only produces solo work.
And I find myself stuck with seeing how the piece looks. I’m scared of dipping my toe into unknown waters, especially one that is as murky and potentially as deep and dangerous as the material has to go. These are such middle class, first world problems that I should just get on with it but I thought I might have a public procrastination session. The fear that it may be too soon after the first one that I may dry up the well. But I also must remember to fill the well as I go like I did with Unbroken Line. That was made richer by living a little as the ideas were fermenting.
Now is the time to plunge and plumb the depths of what it is to do this in quick succession. How many Theatre makers get this opportunity? My second play within 6 months?