I’m trying to de-clutter my life. In particular, I need to truly overhaul my entire studio and clear out a bunch of junk. I want to spend this summer working on some really ambitious projects and to do that, I need space.
It’s sort of humbling to go through all your junk. Picking through my shelves (which basically have layers and layers of stuff just piled on them in no particular order) is like going through some sort of three dimensional scrapbook that I started around 2004. That’s basically when my life got really busy, and being organized was a luxury I had to give up.
I’ve already carted out six gigantic garbage bags – and that’s just my studio. Gross, I know. I’m horrified by how much stuff I have accumulated. And all the stuff I’ve felt stuck with, either because it was “too good to throw away” or because I thought I might need it one day.
The stuff falls into two broad categories:
1. Things given to me – either because of some sort of professional obligation (goodie bags from art fairs are a major culprit) or gifts or even little things that friends have found here or there – like on the sidewalk or in their own cluttered studios – and brought to me. I’m trying to resolve what to do with that which I feel some sort of connection to, but the vast majority of it (especially the bulkier stuff) is the kind of thing I don’t feel any nostalgia for (I don’t need to keep a beachball from a PS1 giveaway three years ago, etc).
2. Unfinished work. Boxes and boxes of unfinished work. I was slightly horrified to discover that I had become, without even realizing it, one of those artists. You know the type – they get started on a painting or drawing, work work work on the thing like crazy, then abandon it when it’s 90% done. And then when the work is uncovered years later, it’s not really like they can go back and finish it now, because the moment is passed – they can’t remember how you were going to finish that sentence or complete that scene. Everybody does that now and then, but I recognize that it’s really not so healthy to have stacks and stacks and stacks (and stacks) of work that was so close to being finished, but not quite, and now totally doomed. I see it for the kind of self-defeating practice that it is – a way to keep yourself constantly busy and going crazy, but never actually accomplishing anything because you never finish. You’d be better off spending your time at a bar than torturing yourself in the studio, if you’re never force yourself to confront the ending of a work.
So, no more. I’m thinking about stupid yuppie phrases like “work better, not more” but mostly I’m just getting rid of that habit. I keep thinking about how, over the last few years, I’ve given up nearly all of my OCD habits/tics, how absolutely excruciatingly hard that was to do, and how this might be one of the last to go. Not the acquisition of clutter – I’m not a hoarder; the clutter comes from a combination of busy-ness and laziness. But more this torturing myself over projects that go nowhere – that’s got to go. When I started realizing that I had so many incompleted projects, my heart started racing and I found myself feeling absolutely terrible – which is a good indication that there’s something going on here… and that it has to stop.
Focus, Amy, focus. Forget about those old projects, but resolve to see your ideas through from now on.