Friday, November 30, 2012

Representing Some Serious Bum Time

12112703graphite-line-drawinggraphite line drawing, which may or may not ever be worked up into a finished something
Writers may be more familiar with the term; at least, that’s were I came across it first when attending writers groups and seminars (once upon a time, I wanted to be an Author).  “Bum Time” is the thing that happens when your bum hits the chair, and not all of it is good, but that doesn’t matter, very little of it makes it to publication, but that’s the point. Bum time represents work that doesn’t always make it to the finished stage, but by giving it a name, you remind yourself that indirectly, it is essential to get to where you are going.  
In writing, two things need to happen. Butt hits chair, and fingers hit keyboard, repeatedly (or pen scribbles on foolscap, whichever makes your boat float)
In art, it’s not much different.  You sit (or stand) and do art. If you don’t feel like doing art, you still do art. If it’s ‘just not happening today’ you still make lines, swaths, blocks of colour or whatever on the page. Keep moving, don’t edit, don’t judge whether it’s good or bad, just keep going. Eventually, as writer, you will have a big heap of words, and even on a bad day, somewhere in that slush you will find a treasure. Maybe even just one short phrase that you can build on later, on a better day. In the meantime, you’ve been doing something essential to your craft—practising. The day of may feel like torture, but remember, you will be rewarded later, maybe moments later when Eureka! slams into your brain, maybe years later, when you finally realize you can make something happen.
12112704graphite-line-drawinggraphite line drawing, parts of this I love, other parts not so much, so this page goes nowhere, but someday I may ‘lift’ elements I like, but it’s guaranteed that the time spent was a learning experience.
When I was a child, a young adult, an art student, and an adult before my best before date (like now I’m after my bbd) I spent a lot of time not doing art. I didn’t do art, because whatever I did really sucked. It never occurred to me that it really did suck because I hadn’t been at it long enough.
I just read an interview with a successful sci-fi writer. She talks about starting her first novel at the age of eight. It was ten pages long and it was really bad, but if you write a ten page novel at the age of eight, it’s a huge accomplishment. If you do this as an adult, you will likely see it as a BIG FAT FAILURE, but the problem is, if you haven’t started yet, FAILURE is what you have to start with, fight through, and keep going. So there are tricks for adults to get you through, and calling it Bum Time is one of them.  Another term is ten thousand hours, as in, unless you are some sort of freak of nature, you won’t be a genius at anything unless you’ve put in ten thousand hours of practice. And again, if you started when you where five years old, you would have gotten serious praise for every little squeak that escaped your trombone, but as an adult, you’ll like achieve noise complaints from the neighbours.  Somehow, the struggle to achieve is no longer cute after a certain age.  So you need quash those inner, and possibly outer, negative voices, and just go, go, go, and leave the judgements for later. Much later, years later, when you look at the page you wrote, or drew, or made, with a sense of wonder.
Life is always too short if its full of opportunities lost to inaction, but it just might be long enough to achieve something wonderful if you keep plugging away at what is truly important to you.
12112705graphite-line-drawingI think this was page three of some random sketches that seemed to be going nowhere, and Eureka! see the lower right hand corner, that one is destined to become my Year of the Snake linocut for a Print show and exchange in February, in fact, in my stack I’ve already developed it into  a nice graphic line drawing that still needs some spacing adjustments before transfer to linoleum.


Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

i haven't heard the term before but i know what you are talking about.

I am always telling younger people (i can say that now, im over 30 :p), that not everything they draw will be great or even look like what they are trying to draw, but its practice that will help and without that practice they will never be able to draw what they want.

Cyd said...

Words of wisdom!

kaslkaos said...

Oooh, over 30! Does it ever annoy you when someone expects to be good at something without working at it? But of course, we keep it positive. Just read about an artist (commercial fantasy artist) who says he got his talent "naturally" but in the same interview, stated that he was drawing since he was two, and never ever stopped. Hmmmmmm


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