A voice from the past
I open a journal at random and am taken aback to see that the pages have yellowed. That is something I associate with old paper, like the book my mother received from a friend on her eighth birthday ninety years ago, not with the journal I kept in 1981.
Of course, when I look in the mirror it’s annoyingly clear that time has passed. Forty years.
I’m equally surprised by the handwriting, which in no way resembles how I write now. In the journal the letters are round and well-spaced, written in a slow, deliberate way. Now they are pointy and jagged, the r resembles the z, the i the e—blurred from the pace in which they were jotted down.
It’s not only the form of the journal that’s somewhat contrived, but also the content. “I recently sat on the roof top of our apartment building and thoroughly enjoyed it.” Why would I write something that I already knew and why did I use such formal language? ‘Recently’, ‘thoroughly’?
Did I use that self-conscious tone because I had just started working as a journalist and forgot that I wrote for no other reader than myself? Or was I addressing the inner critic I felt so keenly at the time, the voice in my head that would find fault with practically everything I did?
Did I try to silence him by using formal language?
I remember a conversation with one of our artists who told me she sometimes wondered how much the critical voice she heard in her head was really her own. And if it wasn’t, how much heed should she pay it?
I have learned what an obstacle an overly critical voice can be, at times it even paralysed my work.
That is why I’m adamant about giving the artists we work with the encouragement I myself may not have received in the past.
Of course, I see where things can be improved, how a video works better if it were shorter, if it limited its focus to one theme rather than several, or if more context were given. And I will tell the artists.
But above all I want to convey my trust in them, the fact that I’m convinced they have it in them to make art that stands out; after all, it’s no coincidence that they were selected among so many others.
Unlike the inner-voice I struggled with most of my life, I want to embolden our artists to believe in themselves.
Perhaps, that is something I should keep in mind when I start reading what I wrote so many years ago.