My latest read: The Well of Loneliness. ‘Love is the sweetest monotony conceived by the Creator’, thinks Stephen Gordon, the ‘invert’ lesbian writer who is this novel’s protagonist. For even with her queer identity, the woman finds herself going through the motions of every love that has ever existed, there’s a naturalness to everything she comes to feel and do, and yet she is marked ‘unnatural’. This read was valuable to me in the same way I think it sets out to be, by putting me in the shoes of a very gentle, intelligent, and caring person who is persecuted for identifying with the opposite sex and loving somebody of the same gender. It really does just that, through taking the time in its pages, as novel’s usually do (take time), I feel I have lived a small segment of my life as Stephen Gordon. Needless to say, the experience was pretty depressing, and with such books it takes a while to get over the second-hand ordeal. I am in a post-reading mope.
It’s a bit of an awkward time. On the one hand, I have my Degree Show worked out. Three monitors showing three films I made during the MA, which I like and which have something to do with each other. I’ve finished making a beautiful bench for viewing these films which I feel inordinately proud of compared to my actual work. So there really is not much left for me to do except to remember to buy the AV equipment at the right time, so I can refund it all by the end of Degree Show… these are admittedly somewhat desperate financial times.
On the other hand, I am a little lost as to what to do with my time. It ought to be a nice time really; I was thinking about being a little experimental, both in research and practice. Dreaming up what my daily work might look like now that it is seemingly unrestrained for a couple of months. Yet I find myself constantly on edge and terrified of not being able to sustain myself. Monetary topics have begun to obsess me and I hate thinking about scratching together a living from activities that have nothing to do with my skills. This financial distraction takes my mind completely off doing anything arty, and it is probably for this reason that most artists and scientists and innovators in the history of humankind had some kind of financial freedom. There are of course, famous counterexamples, and the struggling artist is not a cliche for no reason.
I feel barred from committing to full time job applications because I am awaiting the result of the TECHNE application, which unfortunately I’ve begun to feel far too hopeful about. It’s the fact that I’ve passed the first round that has made me dare hope for success.
There are all sorts of decisions I need to make and can’t quite make until I know whether I am doing a funded PhD next year or not, and so I am left in this angsty limbo, until at least 30th April.
I fear I will be bitterly disappointed at a rejection after passing so many tests, and having had so long to allow my hopes to ferment into something akin to expectation.
Yet what can I do? Sometimes things are out ones control and one must simply accept it and do the best one can within ONE’S limits. (I should have just spoken in first person instead of repeating ‘one’ so many times).
Once I know about the PhD situation, things will start moving quickly. If it is successful for instance, I probably need to move out of London very quickly and hide out somewhere more affordable until a better opportunity crops up… working in solitude again. Get a job fast. No one to rely on!
But perhaps I can revel in not being able to do anything or make any such life decisions for a little while longer. I’ll simply go into overdraft, take as many casual shifts as I can with my part time job, and hope for the best.
The Work Time
There is a month and a bit left to play with the idea of work, what work is, and how to allocate time for it. If I do get the opportunity to start a PhD in September, any work I do now towards that proposal, which may be interesting to pursue anyway, would give me a good foundation.
There’s reading, there’s writing, and there’s other experimental practice.
Above all, there’s a need for me to set aside time to allow each of these to develop. As it is I seem to only do real work in bursts of stolen time.
I find my reading of novels to be quite educational, soaking in different styles and structures, and learning what writing is as a malleable material, like paint. And above all, reading stirs up useful imagery, as does watching film, and imagery, or creating some sort of spellbinding scene, is something I enjoy with my novel.
RE. the novel, I am not going to lie; although I am aware now is probably a great time to work on it, in this spare remainder of my course, I am struggling with it. I thought I had the arc all there, but am really struggling with just coming up with the next bit… if only I could bear sitting with my texts for a little longer, without panicking when I don’t know what to write. If only I could sit with a text.
Well, this is the idea, allocating time for these activities. Insisting on them as valuable, if only for the reason that I don’t know if they are valuable until I have spent some time on them.