I’ve spent some time thinking today, due to this blog post/video by @buxtontheblue. Go on, watch it. I’ll wait. Done? Good. First of all, I can’t stress how brave/insane Nina is for posting that; As I explained to her on Twitter earlier, I once decided against posting a video of Molly on YouTube because my voice could be heard on it, so posting a video of myself (including my face! Imagine!) singing and playing the guitar is frankly terrifying to me.
After telling her that my “thing” is the same as hers, Nina then requested that I post a video of my own. That was the main point of her video, after all. I was reluctant. I also felt guilty for being so reluctant – she had done a brave thing and flat-out refusing seems rude to me. I thought I’d at least think about it for a while. And I have.
The thing is, and this isn’t a cop-out so I don’t have to embarrass myself on the internet (and it would have been embarrassing), I’m not so sure that playing the guitar and singing is my “thing” after all; It’s the thing I wish I could do, but I didn’t stop doing it because of what other people might think of me, I stopped because I’m bad at it. As someone who has sung on stage in front of a fair crowd of people, my parents included, I can safely say that I don’t enjoy singing for people. I also played guitar (and bass, though not at the same time) and I would do that again in an instant, so it don’t believe it was just nerves. I’m a perfectionist and when I find myself doing something to a standard below where I’d like to be and don’t feel I could improve any further, I find the enjoyment being sucked out of it. I hate it, but I have no idea how to stop myself feeling like that.
So I started thinking about what my “thing” could be and remembered a link that appeared in my Twitter timeline sometime last week. I’ve lost the link unfortunately, but it was to a forum post in 2002 from someone who had decided to wanted to start drawing because it had always interested him. He’d never been very good at it, but he wanted to improve and thought he could document his progress there. The first few pages were of cubes and items on his desk, showing how he got to grips with perspective. Seventy pages on (I didn’t read them all), and his work was astonishing; Oil paintings and self-portraits that could be mistaken for photographs. Genuinely brilliant stuff; I felt a bit inspired. I’d always like art at school and I have a very clear recollection of drawing my guitar (fancy that!) in an art exam in secondary school.
That was a long time ago, so I couldn’t say with any certainty why I stopped, but I do remember feeling quite intimidated by how good other people’s work was. I can’t remember the last time I tried to draw something, but as someone who designs websites on occasion it’s occurred to me that it would be a handy skill. Now that I’m thinking about it, the main reason I still haven’t tried, despite it’s obvious advantages and the enjoyment I got out of it, is because of how easy it would be for someone to tell me that it’s shit. There’s an element of laziness too, don’t get me wrong, but if I think about getting a pencil out and doodling an idea I get quite excited by the thought but never act on it.
So, inspired by Nina’s video (please watch it) I will make a trip to the shop in a little while to buy a pack of pencils and dig out the sketch book I have hidden away somewhere. I don’t know what I’ll draw. No doubt, it will be something fairly basic and it will look like it was done by a small child, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll enjoy it. I’ll be doing it because it feels good and that’s good enough for me.
Lastly, here is a video of Molly, featuring my voice: