This piece was inspired by something I wrote in a previous blog post. In the concluding remarks of that post I wrote the following:
I relish the thought of something beautiful being wonderfully made from the burning debris of our letdowns and failures; as if the fires of our fatal wounds were a forge in which the hurt can be hammered into something meaningful, where we can somehow, someway, be wrought back to life. But, I struggle to see it. The crash is so visceral; the burning so incendiary, the shrapnel so serrated, that I grapple to find the beauty in it.
Sometimes one piece of work leads to another piece of work. At least, that seems to happen quite often for me. Perhaps, its partly because my work emerges from a visceral emotionality that I find myself in the thick of, and each additional piece of work can’t help but continue the commute of the previous piece. It comes from the same place as the work that preceded, aided by the distance it’s predecessor managed to travel. I think it’s a kind of creative iteration and reiteration. In that way, its almost a way to continue the conversation. Maybe because there’s something more to say, or maybe it’s a continual giving of the last word which yields itself to the next last word. Maybe both. In either case, I think, perhaps, its that “distance” that offers the insight.
No creative work can ever be exhaustive or exhausted. There is always something left unsaid, something overlooked, something missed, something that went unconsidered, something that could be seen in a different light, something that couldn’t be squeezed in, and thus, there is, indeed, always something more to be said and something more to be learned. In that regard, sometimes when I’m stuck, lost, or I just don’t know what to make, I think about something I’ve previously made, and I try to use it as a launch pad. Maybe I’ll unearth something hidden and unseen that got covered over, or maybe I’ll find something totally new.
In my mind, everything I make is the rough draft of the next thing I make. Maybe that’s one of the few healthy perspectives I have in my arsenal of obsessive and angst-ridden points of view. Adam Savage says that “if you expect to nail it the first go-round every time you build something new – or worse, you demand it of yourself and you punish yourself when you come up short – you will never be happy with what you make and making will never make you happy.” Don’t get me wrong I’m still pretty guilty of demanding far too much of myself and my work, and certainly guilty of punishing myself for inevitably failing to meet those perilously high demands but…the fact that making still makes me happy tells me that I’m doing something at least moderately right.
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