I admire art and I admire artists more. Art demands an honesty and level of consciousness that is exhausting while requiring at the same the exact opposite, spontaneity. Anyone who can pull all of that off together while exhibiting magnificent technique and composition and content is a magician of sorts.
I try and bring that sort of almost brutal honesty to my writing, but I do find myself playing to the gallery once in a while or simply exploring tangents that take my fancy without real conviction. Those are also important aspects of the journey of an artist. And yes, I do consider myself a part artist or an aspirant at least.
But at what point does an artist know that she has arrived at a point when she can share her work with the world at large? When does she throw herself bare and invite reactions? Some artists I know say that they knew when they were ready. They just felt it. Were more confident and had more clarity. Others say there was no defining moment. They simply toiled away at it till someone pushed them to share their work. They took tentative steps forward into the public realm and only when appreciation came in did they realise they were on to something.
I guess in art, like in everything else, how you perform is as much a matter of talent as that of the personality of the artist. In this too, there are contrasts. Reticent and quiet people can be aggressive in self promotion and social, gregarious artists can be self deprecating and low on confidence. The training of an artist, therefore, needs to be about art and attitude in equal parts. Which is true for a lot of other things as well I guess.
It’s hard for artists though, because they rely on self discipline and mentoring to learn and progress. It isn’t usually an institutionalised process of learning and progression; and certainly not time bound. Finding the right mentors and having a sense of purpose and balance become critical ingredients to the artists journey.
But balance can often take away from the passion needed to bring out your art, deter you from taking a stand and inhibit expression perhaps. It’s an old joke, that artists are slightly unbalanced, eccentric, crazy. Indeed they must be, for they hold up a mirror to society and human nature, both of which are twisted and complex, and perhaps even unfair.
Have just looked at the site stats on my blog and realize that the least views over the past month (since I’ve been writing regularly) have been on weekends! Kind of kills my motivation to write, but that thought has me doing the double take as well! What am I writing for? Myself? For the appreciation of those who read? And since the latter undeniably plays a role, will I end up pandering to the public and not really writing what I want to, what comes from the heart?
The stats also tell me that most people don’t spend much time before their computer screens on weekends and that’s great news. Urban life is firmly entrenched in the weekday-weekend mode, and while this has been so in the West for a long time, life in urban India has become like that too.
Weekends are now filled with chores, family outings, social visits, lunched, dinners, coffees, mall outings–all the hectic stuff you have to squeeze in because you’ve spent all week working, sending children to school, meeting deadlines of various sorts. Sunday evening blues, I suspect strongly, are not so much about not wanting to get to work on Monday morning, but about the sheer exhaustion of the weekend past!
The work-life balance is all about working the week and balancing on the weekend and unfortunately, that doesn’t always work! How does the body understand that sleep deprivation over weeknights is to be compensated on weekends, for instance?
So what is one to do? Here’s what works for me. I try to schedule one day in the weekend as a blank day, meaning no preset appointments and social calls at all. Errand running has been moved to an extra hour on the way back from work. I long for US-style 24 hour supermarkets sometimes, so that stocking up can be done after the children sleep. Movie watching is also on weeknights; we have the luxury of extended family to perform babysitting duties. I also try and take up a couple of hours of hobby classes on weekends. Right now its music, it used to be dance. This is to force me to take my mind off work, home and all the other commitments and stresses of life and…. it works just great!
What works for you? Do write in!