When I’ve been saying to people (in answer to their excruciating questions) that I’ve been planning to get back into a regular creative practice and start making work again, I’ve been panicking and using a variation on the phrase ‘Getting Back On The Horse’.
This has been getting some confused reactions. I Googled the phrase because using idioms wrong is one of my greatest fears.
I was initially a bit concerned because the examples relate to being fired/looking for a new job and being divorced/dating again and maybe people thought I meant this kinda stuff and was spilling my guts to them – a mortifying thought!!!!!!!!
But: To return to or resume an activity that one has previously failed at, had difficulty with, or which has previously caused one harm.
By this definition, when I use this phrase, I’m framing ‘making work’ as something I have;
a) ‘previously failed at’
b) ‘had difficulty with’
c) previously been harmed by
– c) Have I felt ‘harmed by’ making work in the past – ish. I’ve felt ‘harm’ if you count boredom, cringe, ennui, guilt, laziness or general cba as harm. In fact most of the performance work I made on my MA came from very stressed processes and this showed in that stuff where the content often revolved around struggle to/frustration of communicating what I wanted to communicate.
– b) Have I had difficulty maintaining a regular state of ‘making work’? – yes lol. There’s the obvious big difficulties everyone has (not rich so have to have a job / not rich so can’t get space / there’s no space anywaylol / there was a pandemic where lots of people were sick and dying and also everything was shut / live on a nasty shithole Tory island) – and there’s ones more specific (lots of my time/headspace/energy/money has been taken up by thinking about transition stuff, planning transition stuff, feeling sad about transition stuff, actual transition stuff, etc etc) but I also am coming at the idea of ‘making work’ from a quite pessimistic, lazy, reluctant, jaded, juvenile, stubborn place – because of who I am I suppose!
– a) Have I ‘previously failed at’ this stuff? – well I guess that depends how you look at it. I think some of the stuff I have made in my life is good but always feel dissatisfied and bored by the end, and I feel like its never as cool or meaningful as I want it to be. I used to be really into trying to link my creative practice with a political praxis but to be completely honest (for reasons I’ll get into at some point) I don’t really fuck with that so much anymore. I think bottom line is I am proud of some of what I’ve done given the contexts I made it in – what tools I had, the conditions I was in, what I knew about at the time. But also lots of my old stuff makes me cringe/want to die and even the stuff I like is not the sort of thing I would like to make now.
So overall… you have it; c)b)a). ‘Making work’ can fairly accurately be described as my ‘Horse’ . Maybe I’d avoid confusing well-meaning peers if I had been including the uncomfortably Freudian suffix ‘THAT BUCKED ME’. I am bucked.
But after all, I am saying I’m getting back on ‘it’. I’ve been planning ahead. I’ve been having some lovely little ideas, and even told people about some of them. I’ve booked a weekly studio space at UoS. I’ve laid out a rough structure for what I want to do for the next year of my life. I’ve bought some nice pens.
Why the change though? What’s brought that all about? Why am I finally ready to mount the proverbial horse again?
There are three main reasons as I see it;
c) Might as well! – It’s been ages since making anything, I feel rested after my MA and the pandemic and I’m getting old. Maybe I even miss it.
b) I have The Start Of Some Big Ideas. I mean like about what my bit, my thing, my gimmick, my overarching philosophies might be. It’s quite exciting, and the excitement is what’s driving me a little. I think I’m onto something good. And people in my life who are really clever also think I’m onto something good. But I’m only just staking the ideas out, so I’m not going to vomit them all here – or maybe they’ve already started.
a) Honestly ~and~this~a~super~fucking~vulnerable~moment~for~me~ having started medical transition and been on hormones for a while now, I am actually able to imagine a sense of futurity for myself. I didn’t used to be able to do that! (I guess in retrospect its quite hard to imagine a career of performing things using your own self, body and face when you hate those things – go figure!!)
ALSO in a late-blogpost-twist – I’m allergic to horses. I didn’t say this earlier because I couldn’t work out if it complicated or improved the metaphor. I still don’t know, but I’ve typed enough.
Nevertheless, I am getting back on the horse – mounting the proverbial steed, eyes swollen and weeping, futile antihistamines coursing through my bloodstream, and excitement and pure fear bubbling in my chest.