On Old Work

Do you keep things?

I try to purge at least once a year, and I am always a bit shocked at what I can accumulate in that time. I wonder why I keep things, too. I think that when I was a kid, someone probably pointed out something about some person who did something great and how they kept all of their notes and now they can be seen on display in a museum.

It must be why I keep so much useless stuff. Otherwise, why am I hanging onto notes from university? I can hardly remember my courses and profs, yet I thought I might need those notes one day. Except, instead of going into TV production (which I studied, and which has evolved twenty times over since I took the courses) I went into teaching. I really don’t need those notes. I don’t even want them.

The sketchbooks on the top shelf are in use; the ones on the bottom are “archived.”

I keep purging, and every time I think I’ve rid myself of these kinds of things I find a new stash somewhere. How does that happen?!

But I do keep old sketchbooks. I do this on purpose, by the way. I also keep old notebooks – even the ones with bad, terrible, horrendously painful ideas and story drafts. The art from just 5 years ago looks like it was done by a kid with a broken hand, and I can’t believe that it was me. I look at my current selection in my portfolio and think, thank goodness I kept at it and have improved because OMG this is BAD.

I used to think I was keeping my notebooks in case one of the ideas was so great that one day it would come in handy. The reality is that this will never be the case, because those ideas were terrible. But, they do inspire me to keep going, because those stories, in comparison to my latest work, allow me to see the growth I’ve undergone.

That is why I keep it.

We Creatives have a hard enough time believing in ourselves. The gremlins are loud and mean and we feel like losers too often. If I have my crummy work available on my bookshelf, though, I can quickly remind myself that I do not suck, and that I can improve, grow and do better work.

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