I’m trying to feel better. I’m trying to make my work better.
That’s a funny word.
Better is the kind of word that suggests some kind of objective measure of quality. I used to not believe in objective quality for art, and I’ve remained very much opposed to the the notion in certain regards. Somehow I have grown accustomed to thinking of my work in terms of better and worse.
There are some possible reasons for my misapprehension of this concept. For even now, I do not want to think that some work is just better than other work. Especially when writing and comparing my work to existing material of my own or someone else’s, there is simply no benefit to evaluating quality in such simplistic terms.
I think that, partly, this issue arose from a class I took in pnecil drawing back in college. I probably should never have taken it. I’m terrible at drawing and have little interest in realism as a style. I knew both those things at the time, but still I took the class.
And in that class, the professor began the semester with having us look at various pieces of work, of varying levels of abstraction. With each piece we were told to say what we thought the image represented. It turns out that pretty much all of these works were clearly identifiable as being an image of one thing. That was the professor’s point. Truly great art is not subjective.
She convinced me. And I think this may have caused some damage to my creative drive. If work is clearly one thing or another, then I extrapolated the concept to quality. That extrapolation was a mistake.
I still agree with the professor’s assessment.
However, the idea that quality is not subjective is pure shit. It’s useless, because it inhibits my ability to write what I want.
If quality is not subjective everyone would like the same stuff. Different tastes would not exist.
If the question about art is not ‘How good is this?’, but instead, ‘What is this thing?”, the anaylsis is much more helpful.
Perhaps I felt this way last week when I got critique from my writing group. One member in particular gouged practically everything about the excerpt and what was more almost all of that was baseed on a quality-level of execution. Some was concrete. Some was helpful. Even so, this session has had me in a tailspin. And I can’t afford that right now.
I have work to do. Some paid, and much more unpaid. I can’t afford to worry about one person’s unintentionally rough critique. So I’m writing this and leaving it here in an attempt to exorcise the evil thoughts I have been entertaining far too frequently of late. I want to be free of my worry. Doubt I can handle. Worry, I’d rather go somewhere far away.
Worry is a useless emotion to those of us with easy lives. More importantly, if one does not act (Or choose consciiusly not to act) on the questions one asks oneself those questions become pointless. At Fourth Street Fantasy Convention which I attended over a month ago now, there was an excellent panel on anxiety and depression.
One panelist described the depressive episode in a way that has proven very true for me.
The goal in the example was to buy something in a supermarket. You take the product off the shelf and then become paralyzed about whether you should put it back to get something else or take it to check out. In extreme depressive circumstances you might end up dropping it on the floor instead of either reasonable option. Small details become compounded by irrational concerns.
When I sit down at my computer I have a number of options of what I can work on. But too often I browse online or play a game.
I drop my purchase in the supermarket.
In some moods, every time I have to make a small decision in the process of writing I get hung up on the possibilities. And the concept of right and wrong. Nothing inhibits my productivity more than wondering if what I’m doing is right or wrong, good or bad, or any other binary question.
Belief in objective reality is part of the issue, perhaps. I think most of us want a simple world. But if we oversimplify things we only create more porblems. Perhapsd there is no way to truly ease the mind.
I live an easy life. I work a job very close to the one I’ve wanted for years.
And even now I am not satisifed. I have expectations of great things. And those expectations are as dangerous to me as fire to dry grass. Theoretically I can control those expectations, but I find it difficult.
This post is growin long, but I feel quite a bit better.
I think I’ve ranted. But I also think it may have been helpful.
Tomorrow I leave on a trip. But I’ll see about keeping up with you while I’m away.
Thank you for reading.