I read it somewhere

It’s one of those things that when you read it you think, “yes that’s interesting, probably true” but when it comes down to it you don’t follow through. It was – and  don’t know who wrote it or where – something like, “Accept that all those things that you think of in the middle of the night that you know are brilliant ideas but that you can’t remember in the morning, accept that really they were rubbish.”

I saw this to be useful wisdom for those nights when the brain is overactive: excited by all the brilliant ideas for brilliant things that you will create or do or think next day. Telling yourself that they are all crap and if there are really any good ones you will remember them in the morning, can help you get back to sleep, the sleep you need to have a creative day next day.

Last night after just 40 minutes sleep I was disturbed by the cats, or my parter, or a putative burglar or a good/bad idea and found myself awake for the next two hours wondering if I should risk the disturbance of recording the creative maelström in Evernote or getting up and making a calming tea whilst jotting it all down in my notebook. I did write a couple of words in the dark on a small scrap of paper – one of which was a useful memory jog, the other was a superfluous reminder of something I really would not have forgotten anyway! I did manage to tell myself that “all these ideas are crap anyway” but ignored my advice and stayed awake desperately trying to imprint my brilliant ideas so firmly in my mind that I would be able to instantly access and use them this morning.

Well, what a success! I woke to find I had clearly remembered 3 or 4 of the dozens of good/bad ideas I had had in the night. These must be the worthwhile ones! So I was quite excited to get to the studio quite early and start working with them.

The first indication that something was wrong was my lack of confidence. Instead of just wading in and doing it I decided to try it out on a piece of paper the colour of which I was unlikely to use – no way I was going to risk wasting a piece of expensive hand-made paper… Hang on! What kind of idea was it that was so shaky I wouldn’t risk wasting a piece of paper on? This was an idea that I was so convinced was interesting that it kept me awake for two hours – yet I hadn’t the confidence to back it to the price of a piece of paper! In any case, I believe what my dear friend Jill Beagley once told me, “You are an artist and anything tha an artist does with a piece of paper can never be a waste.”

Well I fiddled with this idea for about 30 seconds more before I realised that it really was crap. I reviewed the other ideas that I had packaged up from the night and concluded they were not much better.

The good thing was that this left me totally clear to approach my #Letter365 piece open and fresh. Immediately I had discarded the rubbish I knew exactly what I wanted to do and as I worked it developed a purity and clarity that almost brought tears to my eyes.

I wonder if now I will be able to remember next time that thing I read somewhere about things that are crap in the night

One thought on “I read it somewhere”

  1. I read your post smiling all the time. These processes are so personal it’s almost impossible to make generalizations. What seems to be (and may well actually be) crap one day can eventually become a revelation. Or not. Some crappy ideas have a seed of intimate truth in them and, since we are rarely conscious of what’s going on in the depths of our mind, our day-light logic can easily discard them as useless.

    To contradict myself, I just remembered a quote from Francisco de Goya: ‘Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters; united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.’ This phrase was the epigraph to one of his etchings: ‘The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters’.

    I don’t mind contradicting myself, we are all a bunch of creative contradictions, I think. And maybe of crappy creative monsters?

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