It's been a year since I wrote my blog post "Is it time to give up?" (You can read it here)
For a number of years I'd been pursuing a career in screenwriting and after many months of fighting it, I finally reached the decision that, for the sake of my health, I had to quit.
The notion of "giving up" has so many negative connotations, it served my already fragile self-esteem another serious blow. Some people have told me it was a brave decision; others have told me it's "a waste of my talent" and I should "never give up on my dreams".
Both fair points, but what happens when something you've worked so hard to cultivate and strive for, suddenly stops being a dream and more of a nightmare?
I'll tell you, it's disturbingly disorientating. When I announced my decision in my blog post, I fully expected a forced break would restore my passion for my writing work. It didn't. Weeks turned into months and now, a year... I still have no desire to return.
As I sit here in my art studio and look around, I see a room full of artist's supplies, works in progress coming along nicely, blank canvases waiting for the first splash of paint, a pile of practice pieces, finished works waiting to be shipped to their new homes and finally my first finished piece displayed proudly on the wall.
In short, I see investment, faith, creativity and, dare i say, happiness - and not all of the above emotions belong to me. Other people have invested in me; they have given me their hard earned money in faith that I will create something lovely for them in return.... and so far, they have been happy :)
This time last year I had lost my emotional connection to everything I previously cared about. My goal was to rediscover those connections or make new ones.
Art is about communicating emotion. Human beings need to be heard and connect with each other. A huge part of that process is seeing your art evoke emotion in someone else. When I paint, I start a conversation. The conversation is left unfinished - a statement hanging in the air - until someone responds.
On reflection, I think that full conversation was missing in my screenwriting work.... I wasn't reaching my audience quickly enough and I was finding that increasingly unfulfilling.
The finished piece on my studio wall ("New York Apartment View") stirs me every time I glance at it. Not only because it was my first practical achievement; I'd been trying for weeks to transfer my doodles to canvas successfully, but primarily because this set of squiggly lines represent a moment, a place and a memory that I have a deep emotional connection to. It is a warm, joyous, expectant feeling that seems to be held there on the canvas for me to access whenever I want to.
For me... as someone who has previously felt like an emotional vacuum, it is like a piece of magic.