Navel gazing ~ theatre notes

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Navel gazing

A Sunday afternoon spent slowly ordering a chaotic house is always good therapy. As you know, Ms TN has been feeling a bit ragged lately. It's partly a result of overdoing things: I seem to have two speeds, hyperdrive and stop. I have made many resolutions over the years to find a few gears in the middle, since I am perfectly aware that this is not a sensible way of doing things, but so far I haven't found the golden mean. This is partly circumstance, and wholly my own fault. Like most writers, I have turned procrastination into an artform; but with me, it's taken a particularly pernicious turn. In order to avoid doing one kind of work, I think of another project: and then this idle diversion turns into a monster, which splinters off into further truancies, which in turn become other monsters: and before you know it, I'm like one of those crazed teens in Reefer Madness.

Take note, children: playing with literature is dangerous. It starts innocently with poems, and for a while you might be able to pretend that it's a harmless hobby ("recreational" literature). But before you know it, you've graduated to plays and libretti. And that leads down the slippery slope to novellas. But even that isn't enough. The craving only gets worse and, before you know it, you're mainlining Big Fat Fantasy Novels. But even that isn't the worst. The worst is when you discover blogging. Blogs are the crack of the literary world, they burn up your brains and leave you dribbling by the kerb, an object of pity and derision to all right-minded people.

When you pursue all these obsessions at once, and attempt to have a life as well, your head explodes. That sharp crack you heard wasn't a car backfiring, it was me. You should see the carpet.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that at present I'm pondering how to achieve a via media, a way of managing my writing life that bears some relation to sense. I don't want to stop doing anything I'm doing, it all being much too interesting to stop. But at the same time, it ceases to be interesting for anybody, and especially me, if all that emerges is mush. Which is to say, I think the balance between attending to my own work and attending to the work of others is a little top heavy at present. And to be honest, since I've always written as an artist first, this has been making me feel a little lost. I need to touch base. Have a little me-time.

For all that, I expect that readers won't notice a lot of difference on the blog. Perhaps it's more an internal than external shift. For example, I'm going to stop thinking that I'm not doing my job if I don't see everything worth seeing. As a solo, unpaid effort, it's ridiculous, even hubristic, to think that I can or that I should, and to feel guilty if I don't manage it. Away, little demons of the mind!

And finally, since it is always good to get back to first principles, let me point you to Mark Fisher's meditations on theatre criticism on his Scottish Theatre Blog, which are a model of clarity, and somehow very heartening.

6 comments:

quick said...

I doubt that you could produce mush if you tried.

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks for thinking that - though of course it's not true! I keep the contents of my wastepaper basket as classified information...

George Hunka said...

Little demons of the mind indeed. Good luck, and I think you're right. No doubt Melbourne will be a little poorer for fewer reviews from you, but you can't be all things to all people, and yes, artist first -- which I've been trying to remember lately, too. But New York isn't any poorer for fewer reviews from me.

And I can't wait to see what you've got next. Blog or elsewhere.

Geoffrey said...

:-(

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks guys - Like I said, I don't think you'll notice much difference here - I've no intention of abandoning Theatre Notes. It's too much fun, even if it does have a way of taking over my life. It's all in the balance. I'm happy to say that I feel like I'm swimming slowly to the surface. I even tidied up my study, which as an externalisation of my inner state was suggesting that I was all dustballs and imminent paper avalanches...

Pearl said...

Isn't it strange how in life you strive and strive to reach some sort of balance, and when you reach it it's gone in a flash! I guess balance is constant movement. I look forward to seeing where you move to!