Today I planned to fill in my tax return (deadline: 31st January), and so as you’d imagine I ended up doing everything but.
Saw Herding Cats by Lucinda Coxon at the Hampstead Downstairs – a slight, but thoughtful piece of work. I didn’t laugh as much as I thought I would, I reckon reading all this Pinter bio stuff I’m reading at the moment perhaps put me not in the right mood for it, but the performances were quite decent. Came off to me as a bit of naughtiness for the oh-so-safe middle classes and I did nearly burst out laughing when one of the main’s wails “I’m so alone!” at the end, but who am I to (nearly) chuckle at that when Ayodhya basically has the same ending? Anything that engages with loneliness I find interesting at the moment, I guess. It reminded me a little of the end of Ecstasy, which I found genuinely affecting and couldn’t get out of my head for weeks. Will need to give Cats a think over the next few days – it seems to have gotten rave reviews, and I can see it deserves the consideration. Also picked up a copy of Little Eagles for £4 on the way out – had meant to see it, but never got around to it.
Else, I spent a good few hours looking through my picture/document backups on the Big Computer. Got sucked into a massive nostalgia trip, which I am perhaps a little prone to. However! Having looked at all that old stuff really gave me a sense of progression, which helps with what I had intended to write about: New Year resolutions.
Looking back at my resolutions from last year, it’s a bit of a mixed bag in terms of success. Certainly, I was very overambitious, but that’s always the way to be with these things. You know, like Jesus: No one’s expecting you to be quite as good as him, but there’s the target to aim for. I did manage to go to both Paris and Rome, albeit briefly. I sold neither my bass or my climbing shoes (though I did make use of the latter). I, if anything, increase my solicitations with alcohol, Facebook and women, but I can’t say it wasn’t fun or worth it.
So what are we looking at this year? The big ones are “quit job, become writer”, of course, but I think I should be holding that as more of a general Aim-For-Jesus like plan.
First up, something solid: I need to build a website. I used to have one, at this very address (vinaypatel.co.uk) for ages, but as I build up a portfolio and start sending out my plays to agents and theatres, it would help if I got that off the ground. Ideastap is great for connections and kind of good enough for now, but there’s some oomph behind having your site. Nothing too fancy, mind, just like a CV, a little bio, a blog with project updates (maybe this one still?) and links to my work.
For the abstract: Confidence and clarity, both in thought and action. To my mind, there are two types of confidence: the first is where you don’t give a shit about what people think of you because you don’t give a shit what they think (although you kinda do, you just tell yourself you don’t ala Woody Allen), the second is where you don’t give a shit about what people think, because you know you’re the bomb. Both are useful and effective, and they seem pretty much the same thing, but the first strips you of empathy and prevents meaningful engagement, while the second, though fraught with its potential for Death by Hubris, is the only real way to grow and be artistically bold. The first type I learned in IB Theatre Arts at school, plus frontmanning a band. I never ever believed what I was doing was truly any good, just that people are all bastards so they can think what they like. You can see how this is potentially damaging, since it engenders negative feelings, and I think that’s finally come to roost. I had a long conversion with Matan, Sophie’s boyfriend, about it the other day. Using that “Who cares what you think? we’re all dead soon” attitude, I crafted myself from a shy boy into a gregarious, confident seeming person with great success, and the price for doing it this way is a nagging self awareness of the falsehood and a constant, borderline malicious, analysis of people and situations. Can’t deny it’s been helpful for my work, since it’s also fostered an intense self-critical facility within me but I need to step off it now. I have plenty to be genuinely confident about. (You’re going to hear me say that a lot this year, I fear – most (all?) writers are shot through with insecurities, so need a nice self-affirming counter now and then)
2011 was the first year I felt not like someone playing around, but actually An Artist, a title I have previously rejected and ridiculed. Not sure why I felt the need to do that – I guess I thought it all seemed a bit pretentious? I remember when someone at Central told me they couldn’t be anything but a writer, I was furious. “How dare they? Don’t they know the struggles of real life? A real job?” etc etc. Treating art as something of secondary importance is something I hate, and yet it’s such an easy trap to fall into (but not as dangerous as treating environmentalism as secondary to economic growth – but that’s for another post). I won’t bang on about how necessary it is, but I do believe it replenishes people’s ability to feel and when you’re working a job you hate for little money, you need it more than anything. Yet I fall into the trap. Oy vey. You know what? I think I do know why I was like that – it’s because I was scared to admit that I have never felt so at ease, so in control or so necessary as when writing. Try saying to someone at a party that you’re a writer…it sounds bourgeois, sounds up myself, sounds a lie, especially if you don’t make much money from it. But hey – I’m starting to come to believe it’s what I will do with myself and that I’m good enough to do it. I’m lucky to have that, and a fool to think otherwise. The directors and writers I admire all had the gumption to take themselves seriously as artists – time I did the same. So the objective is a spring in my step for this year, and a shift away from confidence type one that has sustained me for the last eight years, and onto something more wholesome that’ll let me love myself a little.
Following on from that – clarity. By this I mean reorientating my life to help me get where I want to get and be who I want to be. On a practical level, it means filling up my calendar with fewer landfill engagements, less time spent with people I don’t like, and more time invested in projects and myself. On that note, I’ve spent £400 on flights to New York, which will be my first real holiday in three years – I’ll see Sandy, it’ll be fascinating and I can stop being oh-so-righteous about how few holidays I’ve had. It’s not a good look. Also aim to go to Spain and, hopefully, Kenya if I can swing it.
Finally, I hope to be clearer with how I express how I feel to others, starting with the tone and content of this blog, but extending into my relationships. I live for other people, and so I’d like to start stripping away the social detritus that we learn to pile onto our interactions in an effort to protect our egos. If I know I’m wrong, I’ll admit it. If I’ve been an arsehole to someone, I’ll apologise as soon as possible. If I have an irrational reaction to something, I’ll not try to justify it. If I love someone, I’ll tell them. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully. Why ever not?