Never fail to act on inspired thought.
Never fail to act upon inspired thought.
Never fail to act upon inspired thought. I’m not sure where I first read this, or who I have to thank for it, but it’s scribbled in my notebook/diary/planner/sketch pad and has been underlined and circled maniacally. This simple act of biro ringing my hastily etched notes separates the wheat from the chaff, or rather to be more literal, in this case it separates a useful, life-enriching mantra from a spidery handwriting that says “man pissing on table.”
On my iPhone notes app, the scribbly rings and underlines are replaced with fire and lightning emojis, and the odd self-deprecating aubergine. I started writing the notes when I started painting. It was an attempt to hold on to ideas that I wanted to use, but could not articulate due to a lack of painting skill. This lack still sometimes feels like a complete hindrance, it is too easy to look at the skill levels of other artist’s enviously, but where would that get you? And where would it end?
While I appreciate the awesome ability of photorealistic painters to replicate an image so precisely, I can’t help wonder if there wasn’t something else they’d rather be doing with the extra time it takes them to produce their masterpieces. Or rather, something else they’d rather be saying.
When I started painting, it was intended as a creative outlet, and quickly morphed into an effort to produce an artwork worthy of hanging on a wall. I’m aware I sometimes sound derisory of seascapes, but it’s more about my keenness at the time to produce aesthetic works, and not the genre itself. I have always loved the sea, but they were never about the sea directly, they were about all the stuff I wasn’t eloquent enough to communicate at the time.
I actually have to paint a couple of seascapes as gifts but all recent attempts have resulted in me graffitiing words over them in the shortest form of commentary possible. It’s funny how you can come full circle without even realising it. I started painting hoping to attain a skill level high enough to articulate my thoughts and now realise that all I really need is a platform and a basic employ of Her Majesty’s English.
You don’t need to know the difference between a fucking verb and an adjective. I certainly don’t. My school years were spent dicking about. Convinced that I was academically hamstrung if not completely thick, I took the easy option of playing class clown. My mum was told that I wasn’t very smart (by a cookery teacher with all the charisma and ability of a boiled egg) and that I was destined for menial labour. I found school very depressing and opted to play along with the popular opinion that I was a bit of a biff. I got away with this for years too. And despite the constant negative feedback to the contrary, I viewed this as the easy option.
Having a chip on your shoulder can be a real pain but it can also be a blessing, my chip was actually more like a fucking baked potato, and I like to think I was quite balanced (a chip on both shoulders). My chips, my perceived inadequacies have driven me on.
I’ve always been able to fuel myself on the negativity energy of others and indeed my own. My introspective inclination and body clock induced insomnia led me to regular 3am tours of my own mind resulting in more of the aforementioned hastily compiled notes on painting ideas that were clearly notes about my own inner ramblings all along.
This isn’t to say that I’m not encouraged greatly by positivity, I am. I thought about being greeted by my girls at the finish line (of my one and only) 45-mile ultra-marathon a lot and that was a hell of a carrot. But I didn’t think about that once on the training runs, on the training runs I would get myself into a lovely little horrible place, I would plod forward and remind myself of all the bitchy little comments and doubts I’d heard. I would remind myself of my past failures and taunt myself with the shame of selling myself short. I know this might sound very pessimistic, but if focussing on the negative induces positivity, I’ll take it. And this process ultimately led me to one of the most productive practises I’ve had in the form of Mantra, the importance of internal dialogue and paying attention to your gut.
The reason I’m now eighty-five paragraphs into the psychology of a Daniel Bassett will be revealed shortly I promise if you can indeed hold fast. The fact that I enjoy writing has been a revelation to me, that others sometimes enjoy reading it even more so haha. Sometime ago I hatched a plan to do a little more writing, but I hadn’t decided upon or specified the exact details. This in turn allowed me to wriggle off my own hook.
I recently took my own advice after years of inaction and wrote to one of my favourite non-fiction authors. I thanked him for his work, I kept it quite short but explained what it was that resonated and why. I concluded that I was an artist (part time artist, full time legend, and no I didn’t say that) that I flirted with the idea of writing more, and I’d like to write about his work and his experience. I left my website address. I expected to hear no more.
A day or two later and I’m sat on the loo half asleep, completely naked and more than slightly pissed off that my phone (just out of reach) is ringing repeatedly from a withheld number. I ignored it. Then, its ringing from a landline, I ignored it once more, then it rings again from a mobile number. I assumed it was a salesman and made an effort to be polite despite the incessant, unsolicited cold calls.
“Hello Dan, its...” Most of you know that I am rarely lost for words but on this occasion, I was completely adrift. I managed a “fucking hell, really?” What followed was an hour-long conversation (largely me babbling excitedly) in which one of my favourite authors of all time, a BAFTA winner no less, who took the time to tell me he thought I had a talent for writing that I should follow. Not only that I should follow it, but with actual direction that I should write a book, he took the time to send me PDF copies of two more of his books that he thought would be of service to me.
This, along with the sincere offer to link his forthcoming book release with my artwork (my artwork that resonated with him) blew me away.
In short, I had finally acted on inspired thought (as directed by my scribbled notes and my gut) and the universe had not only, NOT shat on me, but it had rewarded me for it.
I suppose what I’m getting at is this, I will have a bash at some more writing, and the reason I’ve written all this is so I can’t wriggle off the hook once again. Once it's out there, it’s out there. I don’t have a fucking clue what to write or how to go about it. But much like painting I feel it's better to have authentic ideas and inspiration than a degree to demonstrate ability. Plus, I have a big old moustache and some spectacles so I look a bit writey at the minute.
So, there we go, woop de do, Bassy thinks he's a fucking writer now, but I suppose if You're still reading this that’s a start.