Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Tuesday evening...

Spider's comment on Thursday last stuck in my mind; she wrote of having to be
"...bold, and asking for more than you think you deserve"
and that just about sums it up, doesn't it? The biggest hurdle to creativity is not the infamous blank page, and certainly not, in my case at least, the pram in the hall, it's the personal insecurity and the effort involved in asking for "attention to be paid". No matter how much one tells oneself that one is a grown adult, capable, talented, with successes and triumphs under one's belt - still those little nagging inner voices are there in the background, saying softly and insidiously "you don't deserve to get anywhere, stay safe, don't try anything risky, spare yourself the humiliation". UGH. The legacy of internalising goddess-knows-what individually-harmless minor comments in early childhood. I do not believe for one moment that any of the people who said to me "Don't overreach yourself, play it safe" when I was a small child had any desire to undermine my confidence; I was, after all, a demanding, ferociously bright, competitive and short-tempered kid endlessly trying to beat an equally bright, taller, stronger elder brother. Not match him; beat him. Hence the broken collar bone, the impalement in the laurel tree, and a number of other injuries (- A&E Doctor:"Where did you land, dear?" Me, aged six: "Half on the stairs and half in the hall, but it would have been all in the hall if Stephen had let go of my leg." Another A&E doctor, on another occasion: "What was it that hit you?" Me, aged seven: "The toy rhinoceros my brother threw at me.").
Lack of self-confidence is one of the most crippling things I ever deal with. At least nowadays I DO deal with it; for years, I just hid. It took a very odd experience to force me to see that I was not helping myself by never facing up to anything that scared me.
I was discussing "Red Dwarf" (remember "Red Dwarf"?) with a colleague and found myself saying I identified with Rimmer. Her appalled disgust and disbelief brought me up short. Was this really such a dreadful concept? I found myself seeing myself momentarily through another's eyes, and it took me aback. In my lunch break I went out and sat in the rose garden of Eliot College, and thought about the whole Rimmer/me issue at some length. I saw myself over time turning more and more into a Rimmer-like character. The sun was shining, there were roses blooming all around me, and I was imagining a future as a sour, embittered, disliked tagger-along on the lives of others. I took my diary and wrote in it "I have seen the future, and it doesn't work."
A week later I went to an open day at the local adult education centre, got chatting to one of the art department staff, and on impulse signed up to do an art course in the autumn term. It cost me £120, and it was the best £120 I have ever spent, because it changed my life.
If I ever meet Chris Barrie, I must thank him, because in a way he changed my life, too.
Since then - that was in 1993, good grief - I've overcome many blockages, done many things that were difficult or challenging, and faced many fears. It does get easier with time and experience. But I wouldn't say I'm particularly good at it yet.
I'm in a new job at the moment, and it's bringing me up against some of the same issues. I cannot bear getting things wrong. Other people can make mistakes when they are learning a new rôle; I cannot. I feel like screaming with frustration at my inadequacy, over minor errors that I would comfortably excuse, were someone else to make them under my tutelage. It's as if the job is a new Stephen, and I'm playing catch-up once again, competing against a standard I cannot beat.
Sorry, this has all gone rather cod-psychology tonight. I'm tired after a rather mad day and last night's very enjoyable (if frustrating at times - why? - because I'm not good enough at it!!) lesson at the Lindy-Hop club. I'm going home now, which means cycling in the rain because like a mutt I came to work by bike today in defiance of the weather forecast.
Not feeling terribly creative; I chiefly want to sleep, in fact. The fresh (& wet) air will do me good, no doubt. Goodnight, all.

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