In the depths

In the depths

A dangerously disproportionate amount of my time of late has been spent in a state of ludicrous happiness.

I am utterly thrilled by how I am enthralled by art school. (I mean, I had hoped my dalliance with the School of Art would go well but it was a bit of a complete stab in the dark; we’d only met just the once after all.) I am constantly awed by how interesting and supportive the faculty is and consistently impressed by how curious and open-minded my cohort is.

It makes for a truly terrible sentence but everyone is just so nice.

It’s crazy. And it’s awesome.

And I know, I am so lucky. And yet, I am also so often afraid.

These fears do not creep when lurking worries are said to surface, in the dark of the night, but rise in the cold crisp light of morning. They come as I sip coffee at my desk and look out at the autumnal festoon of parkland beyond the hedgerow.

They swim an inverse dance to the scarlet drift of falling leaves.

It is gauche but it would be a lie by omission if I didn’t own that one of my primary worries is money. A dirty and yet necessary interface; one wishes to have just enough that one never has to think about it again… which unfortunately is quite the privileged position. Moving to Canberra, I had (after researching the requirements) banked on obtaining government support while I studied full time however due to a curious little twist, it appears my prior degree (done without government assistance) renders me ineligible (which would have been ideal to know before uprooting but there you go).

Which leaves me in the very usual but still difficult position of determining how best to support myself for the next three years while studying fulltime. And when I say fulltime, I do mean it; art school has impressively high contact hours, incredibly bad timetabling, a weighty tonne of homework and an excess of extracurricular-but-really-required activities.

It is, I dare say it, more work than law school.

Or at least, more work than I put into law school.

And here we come to my second fear, swaying harmoniously with the first. Because while I clearly have to get a job, it appears I am not as employable as I always (smugly) assumed.

I had an RSA once (I shan’t say how long ago) but I never actually worked in a bar (or in hospitality more generally). I don’t know how to pull a beer. I’ve been closer to being a barrister than a barista and although I do remember how to do a stocktake, my retail experience seems tarnished by the LLB that sits between it and now.

So I circle back to law. Could I do it? Part-time?

A part-time law job would undoubtedly be the best answer to my monetary concerns (being the only avenue likely to wander above award-wage), but while the lure glimmers, I recall so clearly the struggles of switching gears as a full-time-lawyer-week-end-dauber. I remember the impossibility of painting on a Saturday; my mind still churning with the contractual complexities of the week.

Would it be different if the balance was inverted? If I were an occasional lawyer, dabbling in the analytic? Being fully ensconced in the creative, could I safely venture into the legal realm? Would the transition get easier, so that I could switch between the two with a single flick; law and art, analytical and not?

These aren’t hypothetical ponderings. I have an interview tomorrow for exactly such a role, a part-time lawyer. Which is worrisome in and of itself as I’ve never encountered a part-time lawyer who didn’t regularly experience the trickle of obligation onto days outside their pro-rata-agreement. So in addition to the usual interview nerve jangle sits that secondary concern – do I even want to succeed at this? Will success here compromise everything else that I’m striving for?

I honestly don’t know. But the clock is ticking and rent is almost due.

Fears, like all other good burghers, come in threes. My third fear is one that has been bubbling up occasionally in vague concern but that actually crystallised in the writing of this post. I felt nervous writing it (not just because money talk is distasteful) and actually feared the moment I’d have to confront the ‘publish’ button lurking at the bottom of the screen.

I realised this fear was precisely because I knew people would read it (which, don’t get me wrong, is precisely what I hoped for when I started writing it). See, when I started, mid-last year, no one read it (well, my mum did. But that was about it). Disheartening impact of this truth aside, that anonymity made it so easy to be open; to speak into the void without any fear of an echo.

And now? There are little echoes in my life. People send me emails, leave me comments… one time I even went on a tinder date with someone who had read my blog (that was actually disconcerting, I felt like he’d seen me in my underwear before we even had a drink). And I love the echoes (not so much the tinder date, sorry dude), I am stoked that people find my blog interesting and it invigorates my writing in a way that speaking to the void was never going to.

Yet it was this idea of a (rather exclusive) readership that gave me this fear. The fear that as more people started to read, I’d lose the confidence to share as freely as I once had… to take a terrible cliché and wrench it further, it is a difficult thing to share like no one is reading.

None of these fears have an answer I hold. But tomorrow I will put on black slacks and a sensible shirt for the first time in months and rescue my game-face from the bottom of the laundry basket. And afterwards I will go to the School of Art and I will take the little clay figures I roughly hew today and carve them supply curves.

And right now? Right now I will press the little ‘publish’ button and let this leaf blow on what wind it will.

World Press Photo ‘16

World Press Photo ‘16

Clay Gulgong 2016: a novice guide (part 4)

Clay Gulgong 2016: a novice guide (part 4)