Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Simple Questions. Hard Answers.

"How's your work going?" inquired a colleague/acquaintance at the School of the International Center of Photography in New York.

Simple question, right? But why the blank, is it so difficult to answer. I don't know how to reply. Stumbling for words only makes me appear stupid and inarticulate.

Or so it makes me feel.

The creative life is a long journey down a winding road full of potholes, shattered glass, fallen trees and detours. Along the way there are amazing adventures, but for most people it is not a trip in First Class. I'm happy for those who seem ride in great comfort and reach their destinations quickly without any wear or tear, but my means of transportation evidences dents, scratches, peeling paint and tires balder than a baby's butt.

What do I say but, "My work is going well, thanks!" It's like a stranger asking how you are. They don't really want to hear how things are actually going, because if they did, they probably wouldn't ask.

I think many artists feel uneasy about their creative endeavors. Unless there is hard evidence showing that your book will be published, your music or dance performed, your art shown, you often just don't know. You don't know because you are still in the process. Maybe at the beginning, perhaps at the end, but still nevertheless you're not there yet. And there's no shame in that. The shame would be if you quit before reaching the end.

So I decided not to quit, but to persevere. It seems to me that I've gone so far already at this state of life, that there's no turning around and going back. I can only press on.

But, to answer the question, "How is your work going?"

It's going well. I am working and I get a lot of pleasure out of what I'm doing. And, finally, I can see that, perhaps, I'm finally getting somewhere and that all the work will be worth it. Yet I'm not sure if the reward actually comes in the act of working or if it comes after the work is done.

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