I stopped writing this for a while, partly because as a way to document my journey into feeling happier I actually felt quite content for a long time during the lockdown. I was selling paintings and it was paying the rent and I was very happy doing it. Then instagram shut down my page without a warning, apparently my work is just too lubricious. Although that’s my choice of words not theirs, they just use the same words every time to every. Something about violation. It made me more depressed than I thought it would. And I stopped being able to sell paintings. Through that channel anyway. For now. And here I am back again feeling sad and weird. Not just because of that. I’m also suddenly busy, which is a good thing, but I wasn’t ready for focussing yet, I needed more time just milling around, so I get frustrated with having to be my own best friend all day every day, and, reader, I’m hard work. I had a long think about my recent projects, the ones I got ‘paid’ for. I have spent the last 4-ish years, since I made the Iron Man, mostly doing other people’s projects. I just stopped getting asked to do my own. I made lots of music videos that I was very proud of. And I kept making them because I’m very optimistic. So everytime I made one and it got a million views on youtube, not because of me, obviously, and they forget to mention my name or give me any credit, ever, I think, oh well next time they will, and someone with a lot of money will come flying down and offer me a really great commission where I can buy a house. And then I find myself on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day and all through every day and every evening doing this work for other people . . oh can you just . . . what if that blue was a bit more unlike the blue you chose and like another blue but I’ll leave it to you to guess exactly what I mean . . . And I think, oh but if I do this video and I work really hard, this time it will be the “ONE”, and Rickie Lee Jones will see it, I know she’s a fan of this singer. And then they forget to mention my name anywhere again. And Rickie Lee Jones doesn’t call. So I thought, hmm this is going nowhere. And I had two thoughts. First I realised, it’s not about doing the work to then lead to where the next video or job is coming from, its about the bits that happen that you aren’t expecting. So - because of the last music video I made, I got a new instagram friend, and we like the same things, especially Harold and Maude, and she sends me messages about her life in America and I talk about my work (as it’s all I can talk about ever) and she sends me unexpected exciting packages, like recently Ruth Gordon’s autobiography suddenly turned up, the pages interleaved with little paintings and stickers and feathers that fall out as I read it.
And my second thought was maybe just don’t say yes anymore to things you don’t want to do. Be someone that people recognise, oh yes he is the person that we commission to do new original things, he doesn’t do other people’s stuff. I know people say this in blogs ETC but I tried it. I turned down (or actually in my head I did but I forgot to reply) a job that the earlier me would have said yes to because I want to be needed and I need money however little. But I thought, try and sell more paintings and in the meantime wait. And I only had to wait a day, the next day I got an email from an institution I had first met 10 years ago (opera north) and done another project or two with in the intervening years but then hadn’t heard anything for about 6 or 7 years and I thought, oh thats all come to an end. But then they asked me if I would like a commission of my own. With enough money to live off for a few weeks and it’s an original piece of work that will be all my own thing. (with music by Puccini). AND they’re excited about showing it to the public. So I’m starting to try to think about remembering that these things don’t happen overnight, or the next day, sometimes it’s 10 years later. So I’m looking forward to working with Rickie Lee Jones in 2030.
I’m experimenting with not drinking alcohol every day as a way to work out what makes me sad, but it’s alternately ok and then boring and some evenings I’ve just had enough of being in my own company but can’t just give in without trying.