A timely reminder: this is what we do

Friday December 03, 2010 @ 01:28 PM (UTC)

I love reading James Gurney’s blog, Gurney Journey. (I think Steve tipped me to it originally? If so, thanks, Steve.) I love Gurney’s work, and I love learning about art and how it works and has worked. Also, I find a lot of cross-disciplinary pollination in the things he talks about. Sometimes it’s hard to explain how the stuff he says about painting or drawing seems very apt for writing. Sometimes it’s not.

Here’s Thursday’s blog post, “Mutter and Growl”, about perennial Shoulders family favorite John Singer Sargent. It’s about his making a lot of noise as he worked, but here’s the part that really struck me:

Another observer noted that he talked to himself: “This is impossible,” Mr. Sargent muttered. “You can’t do it. Why do you try these things? You know it’s hopeless. It can’t be done.”

Then: “Yes, it can, yes, it can, it can be done—my God, I’ve done it.”

I always feel so grateful when I find that cycle of despondency and triumph in master artists, or hear writers whose work I really admire confess to it. It’s not schadenfreude, it’s recognition: oh, this is fundamental.

When you’re in it, you feel like the only one. Whether it’s a small cycle during one session of painting or a big long-form up-and-down, you feel trapped in the solipsistic agony of it. But you’re not alone. We’re all down there, toiling our parallel ways out of our oubliettes to stand heedless and triumphant in the light.


Me too, me too! I call it the “black despair” that it will never be any good or worth anything… and you just keep on and on and on, until… sometimes… there you are.

Kind of ties into some other things about writing I’ve been meaning to blog…we shall see!

New comment

required, won't be displayed (but may be used for Gravatar)


Don't type anything here unless you're an evil robot:

And especially don't type anything here:

Basic HTML (including links) is allowed, just don't try anything fishy. Your comment will be auto-formatted unless you use your own <p> tags for formatting. You're also welcome to use Textile.

Copyright © 2017 Felicity Shoulders. All rights reserved.
Powered by Thoth.