Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trouble finishing?

There’s something I find excruciating about bringing a complex or long-term project to completion. I don’t think this is one of the many cognitive effects of CFS, but perhaps it does get extended by the additional fatigue. Even when there is a specific deadline, once the light appears at the end of the tunnel, each step seems so much more challenging than the last. Without a deadline, it is even worse.
I suspect I make this challenge even greater for myself by choosing to go about things in a way that is fairly involved, rather than taking the simple option (not sure I even see there is one).
Of course I am referring to the work I am preparing for the Book*Art*Object project, Learning Absences, which you can read more about here and on the associated blog here.
Although I first started working on ideas for this in July(!) and had certainly settled on the final direction in September, I am still struggling valiantly to actually produce the books. All the pages are printed and believe it or not, the hold up now is trimming them to size for binding. This seems to be taking me ages!
I am resisting the urge to allow myself to start any of the new ideas that dance enticingly across my imagination, but I am starting to notice a pattern in my behaviour. I recall writing a similar post while trying to battle through the final stages of making my flag book, Like Weather. Back then, nearly 3 years ago, Azirca wrote in the comments:
“Creativity takes time you know, you can't rush these things ;)”
Her wise words were very helpful back then, and did make me stop and appreciate what I was doing. I’m sharing them now as much to remind myself as for anyone else’s benefit.
Nevertheless, I am going to look at my ways of working and see if I can’t simplify things a bit. You know, work smarter, not harder. If I can refine my projects perhaps I’ll be able to produce a bit more. I can’t help feeling that looking back over a 12 month period and being able to see a number of finished works would be more satisfying than one larger work. Of course, I may be wrong or may not be able to work in any other way – it may be that I need complex work to communicate what I need to say.
Another consideration is the release you feel when you finish a work. When a project stretches on for months, I find it easy to turn it into a bit of a burden, a commitment, rather than being fun and being able to be flexible. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I love experimenting, and a long project does tend to demand that I remain focused and put spontaneity aside.
Just a few of the thoughts running through my mind as I wield my art knife and steel rule.


  1. I have very similar issues, Amanda, and find it hard to maintain interest near the end of a long-term project. I've thought about this a good deal, and talked to others about it. In the future, to try to address the problem, I plan to have several projects going at once. That way (she says, theoretically), when I'm bored with one, I can move to another, and when I'm bored with that one, etc. Sounds great, now let's see if it works.


  2. Hi Clara, That is a good idea! I might give it a try too. Thanks for suggesting it.

  3. I'm like bookgirl - I have numerous (both long and short-term) projects on the go at any given time.... that way when I hit a wall (when its not working out as hoped, I've run out of material, not enough free time to do the next stage.... whatever) I move on to another thing and I don't feel stuck in a rut. As some of my projects run on and on and on for YEARS it works out a good strategy (funnily enough, the BOA project for me was a welcome short-term distraction from some of the stuff I've been sweating blood over!)

    hang in there!

  4. I should heed my own advice and try not to get too peeved off with myself when my fingers and arms wont do what my mind wants them to do. My brain needs to slow down the creative process so that my creaky old body has some chance of keeping up.

  5. Thanks Ronnie - I am getting there. Slowly, slowly.

    Sometimes, Azirca, I think it's ones own advice that is hardest to follow!
    Take care & remember, tomorrow is another day.