October 12th, 2006
the things in the middle of my head this morning


It’s amazing how much your surroundings can affect your sense of well being. While it did not seem to affect my ability to create these last few months, I now feel myself lighter, calmer, more in my body, sleeping so very deeply (something I haven’t done for months.) I have been transformed into a more secure version of myself.
The house is one of my creations that I add to with little bits here and there, a robin’s egg blue on this wall, a small collection of stones over here, a couple of my collages in the corner, photos from travels in frames. I have not yet been able to pull out my books just yet as I do not have a bookshelf for them in the studio. They are the most important component in my creative life, even just seeing them gives me a feeling of excitement. The wanting to run to the journal to write. I love that feeling.
Let me tell you that even after so many years of doing work that I love on a regular basis I have never lost that feeling of “not knowing what I am doing”. Some of it is with me every day. After this year I will have written and had published six books with major publishers. I still feel like I am a hack that is about to get figured out. Someone will call me up next week and in a strong voice say, “the gig is up missus, I know what you’ve been doing, and it’s all over.”
But then, I’ve learned that everyone feels this way, only most of us don’t talk about it. I’m not sure why I’m writing about this right now, except that the thought came into my head and it wants to come out for some reason. So there you have it. Reading obsessivley about Eva Hesse’s life has brought some new insights into the forefront. I want to be willing to let go of the need to ‘produce’, I want to let go of the pressure to be a great artist, (where did that come from?) Eva writes…
“One of my first visions when I woke up from my operation is that I didn’t have to be an artist to justify my existence. That I had a right to live without being one.”
Oh, how we pressure ourselves. Reading that made me feel better for a time. Take a few deeper breaths. Who would you be if you stopped trying so hard? Contemplate that just for a moment. Sit with it if you dare. what if you didn’t produce a thing for the next while? (something about this thought terrifies me I admit.)
Lately I look out the window at the fire-red trees and think to myself, “how can I be inside right now when the leaves are changing, the leaves are changing.” I want to watch them every minute so I can soak it all in, get every color into my palette, this fall will never happen again.
I guess that is why we love it so. Because it is fleeting. Impermanent.
But I am enjoying being inside in this new place. Walking from room to room. Cooking over a big pot in the kitchen. Filling the house with new smells of curry and incense and clean sheets. How wonderful it is to have a real bed again, instead of sleeping on a couch, (or thermarest).
the leaves are calling me to come join them, and so I do. there is enough time for everything else. later.

Oct 12 2006
5:38 pm
Meg writes:

i needed this. thank you.

Oct 12 2006
8:53 pm
Heili writes:

I know exactly how you feel. I moved in to my apartment and didn’t intend to stay long but I just signed the lease for the second year and I’ve gone in to Autumn cleaning mode! I’m loving getting it ready for the winter ahead so that I can sit in my favourite comfy chair in my beautiful home and look out at the London rain and feel safe. I feel safe!

Oct 12 2006
8:55 pm
Velvet Brick writes:

I miss Autumn… will you paint it for us, Keri? Please?

Oct 12 2006
11:48 pm
Crystal writes:

This touched me so deeply. I am allowed to just ‘be’. I’ve been struggling with having to write, having to churn out words and not being able to give myself permission to be dry.
Thank you, Keri.

Oct 13 2006
1:52 am
wendy writes:

I just loved that qoute, “I didn’t have to be an artist to justify my existence….I had a right to live without being one.”
And congratulations Keri on your HOME! I have been rather empathetically following your journey here as Im in a home seeking journey too. I am so glad to see yours have a happy ending : )
Blessings, Wendy

Oct 13 2006
1:54 am
Cam writes:

Perfect timing as usual, Keri. Who would we be if we stopped trying so hard? An urgent question. I’ll keep it in my pocket, I’ll carry it around.

Oct 13 2006
2:52 am
kristine writes:

“Take a few deeper breaths. Who would you be if you stopped trying so hard? Contemplate that just for a moment. Sit with it if you dare. what if you didn’t produce a thing for the next while?”
I love that remark. I am going to have to wrie it down, tack it up somewhere, let it marinate, and give it proper reflection…

Oct 13 2006
3:03 am
herhimnbryn writes:

Over the years I have come to realise that my surroundings do most certainly affect me.
Right now the house is a tip! I have been in the garden this week, so housework has been ignored! As I type I can see the floor needs vacuuming and dust has settled on shelves and I’m cold. I know that as soon as I sort this out I will feel fine. Please note I am not a great lover of house work ( tidy house = a life unlived in my book!). But, if the mirrors are dust free, then the candles I light tonight will cast a soft glow. If the floor is reasonably clean, then the large linen cushion I like to use on the floor to sit and watch a film will still be it’s gorgeous ochre and cream colour when I pick it up. The earthenware pots on the shelves will shine if I just flick the dust off.
If I get logs from the shed, the fire I light will warm the house. If I take delight in chopping some vegatables, then the Morrocan Tagine I cook tonight will scent the air.
Thankyou K. I must go and sort my surroundings! :)

Oct 13 2006
7:54 am
soren writes:

WOW. What Eva Hesse said… I feel like I need to read that over and over again.

Oct 13 2006
10:31 am
rebecca writes:

Wonderful entry! Sometimes I scroll down before I read to see how long it will be (the longer the better in your case!) and then I settle down for a good read. Challenging, beautiful insights today. . .thank you.

Oct 13 2006
12:33 pm
Susan Jonsson writes:

One of your most beautiful posts ever….Thank you so much for sharing your Centered Peace.
Susan

Oct 13 2006
12:38 pm
schmutzie writes:

Thank you for pointing the way to Eva Hesse.

Oct 13 2006
2:14 pm
julie writes:

Fantastic post…it was actually shocking when you said “what if you didn’t produce a thing for the next while?”..wow..
The way you describe your new home sounds so ‘right’..its important that we all have our own corner of the world to feel good in.

Oct 13 2006
3:38 pm
shirah writes:

thank you.

Oct 13 2006
4:25 pm
Maria writes:

There’s a great book you might like to read Keri – ‘The Price of Water in Finistere’ by Bodil Malmsten. I think you might like it.
And I too fee like a fraud most of the time. But I assure you, other people are too busy feeling like frauds themselves to expose their fraudulent peers…

Oct 13 2006
6:09 pm
susanna writes:

I’m so glad that you’re enjoying your new home, your new Life, Fall colours… You ARE doing very well for yourself, Keri!

Oct 13 2006
7:12 pm
Swirly writes:

I have been exploring this idea myself – the idea of throwing all ambition out the window and just deciding to QUIT. What would that look like? Would my life still be “valuable”, worth something, IMPORTANT? Such an interesting thing to ponder…

Oct 13 2006
11:15 pm
Kelly writes:

Thank you for this. Your description of your new home has helped tip the scale for me. After two years in my first house, I still have not painted the walls. So I still have not put up art work, made the place mine.
What am I waiting for? K

Oct 14 2006
1:04 pm
Sabine writes:

I think you’re right about the fact that everyone feels this way, but they just don’t talk about it. During my whole life it has felt like there is always someone who can do it perfectly, who really knows how to be an artist. And it makes me feel like I’m the only one who isn’t cut out for it, or who just can’t do it. Thank you for making me remember that- everyone is in the same boat. Perhaps if I don’t try so hard, everything will come easier.

Oct 15 2006
4:09 pm
jen lemen writes:

i wonder if in the beginning of your artist journey how the idea of taking the pressure off might have affected you. i feel like i’ve spent so much time delaying my artist life that letting go of making something, of producing might leave me in no man’s land. do you think that this is an exercise for everyone or those who are weary from faithfully following their artist way?

Oct 15 2006
9:51 pm
Jen Jen writes:

Thank you so much for your honest flow of thought. Your words have definitely hit home. I most definitely have those thoughts of “my time is up” and feeling the need to “produce”. Thanks for sharing the doubt. It makes me feel better knowing that I’m not alone with those thoughts.

Oct 16 2006
9:47 am
keri Smith writes:

jen lemen,
I don’t know if I can answer your question adequately, as it is a complicated one. I feel torn in a couple of directions with it. I’m wondering if there is also a semantic issue here. What do we mean when we say “letting go of the need to produce”? I don’t think I am saying that we should not make work, or that we should cease in creating anything. I think the crucial word here is “need”.
the questions that arise:
“why am I pushing myself so hard?”
“why do I feel the need to prove my worth as an artist on a regular basis?”
“what exactly is my drive to create?”
As I go through this process I feel that the important work doesn’t come when I am pushing or forcing.

Oct 16 2006
9:47 am
keri Smith writes:

jen lemen,
I don’t know if I can answer your question adequately, as it is a complicated one. I feel torn in a couple of directions with it. I’m wondering if there is also a semantic issue here. What do we mean when we say “letting go of the need to produce”? I don’t think I am saying that we should not make work, or that we should cease in creating anything. I think the crucial word here is “need”.
the questions that arise:
“why am I pushing myself so hard?”
“why do I feel the need to prove my worth as an artist on a regular basis?”
“what exactly is my drive to create?”
As I go through this process I feel that the important work doesn’t come when I am pushing or forcing.

Oct 16 2006
9:47 am
keri Smith writes:

jen lemen,
I don’t know if I can answer your question adequately, as it is a complicated one. I feel torn in a couple of directions with it. I’m wondering if there is also a semantic issue here. What do we mean when we say “letting go of the need to produce”? I don’t think I am saying that we should not make work, or that we should cease in creating anything. I think the crucial word here is “need”.
the questions that arise:
“why am I pushing myself so hard?”
“why do I feel the need to prove my worth as an artist on a regular basis?”
“what exactly is my drive to create?”
As I go through this process I feel that the important work doesn’t come when I am pushing or forcing.

Oct 17 2006
10:58 pm
Anastasia writes:

“I still feel like I am a hack that is about to get figured out” Oh I can completely relate to that one!

Oct 18 2006
12:16 pm
kyran writes:

Keri, this post could not have been better timed. I wrote about its significance to me over at my poetry blog.
JenLemen sent me here…she has yet to steer me wrong. She’s like a personal blogger shopper. I owe her one for this new pleasure :)

Oct 21 2006
6:59 pm
skeeter writes:

So poetic, esp the end!


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