Well, here I am with some mid-month musings…
I’m learning more about my process (and my purpose) all the time. It’s equal parts confusion and illumination, it’s questions as much as it’s answers. But I’m pulling on the string in every way I can imagine. And I’m doing my best to pay attention.
When I started feeling really mobile again after my knee surgery (in the spring), I went through a few weeks of gleeful mania. I was SO full of energy and momentum that had built up during those heavy recovery months.
School was ending, wedding season hadn’t quite arrived. My mind and body were ablaze, and I was absolutely spilling over with inspiration for alllll sorts of art.
But then, I got a little lost. The situation with my brother really threw me (it’s tricky to choose a tense here, because I’m still wrapping my head around this loss), wedding season swallowed me whole, the semester arrived with a specific fury, etc.
I’ve spent the past several months just looking at the list of ideas I was passionate about in the spring and feeling…odd. Not disconnected, exactly. Maybe “confused” really is the best word. I just couldn’t quite remember what I had been thinking. I couldn’t seem to tell a beginning from an end. I worried I was letting all of this energetic beauty slip through my fingers.
But something weird has been happening in the past few weeks.
My process, my purpose…
Well, I can say a few things, for sure.
Between January 2019 and today, I have recorded precious, intimate conversations with 172 artists. I published my first “Deep Dive” essay on November 4, 2019, and have written a total of 35 Deep Dives, to date.
Slowly, this particular process has grown into a wild science.
I conduct interviews about six months before I release them. Two weeks before the release date, I re-listen to the conversation, taking notes on whatever feels inspiring and relevant to me, in the present moment.
At the end of each month, I look back on my notes from the past three interviews, and I search for a through-line. Then, I write an essay on that topic.
Artifice, indeed. This practice is so…regimented, full of discipline. At the surface, maybe it even looks sterile. But oh – it’s absolute chaos. It’s the most wonderful chaos. And I follow whatever chaotic whims I please, as I carry out each of these steps.
So. The weird thing that’s been happening lately.
I had all of these springtime ideas. I know I had them. There are notes, and scribblings, and lists. But I just couldn’t find the heart of them.
I started listening back to the interviews I conducted six months ago, and it is ALL there. It’s right there! There I am, talking with my springtime guests about these springtime ideas.
And it’s more than record-keeping. I hear these ideas being twice-baked, twice-iterated-upon, twice-tumbled in electrifying conversation with brilliant friends. They’ll distill further as I transform them into notes, then into prose. Then later, into music. And all the while, they sneak out in day-to-day experiments, in my ever-wilder pedagogy, in performance, in play.
So, what I happened upon in the springtime, I can put on paper in the fall. And I won’t feel “behind.” I won’t feel late, at all.
These ideas are just as alive as they ever were, the strings are simply longer than I realized.
Until next time.
P.S. Here’s a mantis I found on a dead tree in my garden.