on setting aside work and charms against fragmentation

fragments of the Septuagint, wikimedia

fragments of the Septuagint, wikimedia

Yesterday, a friend posted a link on Facebook to an article wherein artists answered these questions: If you’ve ever had to set aside a work of art that still had potential, why did you do so? And will you ever return to it?

It was just what I needed during these last few weeks of setting aside more creative work for working on applications and submissions.

Here are a few excerpts that I found particularly compelling:

From Amy Dryanksy, poet:

  • “As a working parent who didn’t start writing ‘seriously’ until my 30’s, I feel as if my creative life is constantly fragmented.” (*raising hand)
  • “I like to think that when people say artists are ruthless, this is what they mean. We do what we need to do to keep the ball rolling.”

From Megumi Naitoh, ceramic artist:

  • “As I write this (response) I am making myself aware how important it is to plan my time and not pressure myself to produce work if I want enough time to explore.” (parentheses mine)

From Georgie Friedman, installation artist:

  • “I call them ‘ideas on the shelf.’ I see them as ideas that are in progress, but perhaps resting… .” (I love the idea of a project resting!)

From Evan Johnson, composer:

  • “Until recently… I brooked no distraction because I felt I needed to be able to keep an entire work in my mind in order to interact with it successfully — to remember where each line of thought  left off so that I could pick it up smoothly and without contradicting my original intentions. These days, I’ve lost interest in avoiding contradictions. I find myself … taking tangents, following half-finished material in directions I did not initially intend, ignoring plans I remember perfectly well. I have forgotten why I ever felt that the final state of a work needed to reflect as closely as possible the idea with which it began.” (emphasis mine)

From Timothy Coleman, furniture maker:

  • “I was so eager to build this piece, so excited to chase the vision, but I could not force it.”

You can read the whole article (which has two parts) by going here.

All of these excerpts are comforting to me as I have several strands of work waiting (resting?) while I do other types of work. I hope they give you something to think about, too.

And I’m keeping up with my usual charms against fragmentation:

  • reading, always reading
  • jotting down ideas and scraps of language in my “blotter” (which I wrote about here)
  • thinking about creative work while I wash dishes, fold laundry, walk home from taking the kids to school
  • visualizing the various threads of work in their current, incomplete state, and in an imagined, but hopeful, complete state

What are your charms against fragmentation? And do you agree with me that, if you look at fragments from a particular vantage point, they can be kind of beautiful?

2 thoughts on “on setting aside work and charms against fragmentation

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