Using the phrase return to form to describe the state of one’s artistic production seems a tacit admission of irrelevance, like R.E.M. or The Simpsons in the 21st century. And I am demanding exactly that of myself this morning, with you as my witness: my own return to form.
I’ve long maintained that you have to be prolific before you can be good. A corollary, I’ve learned, is that you have to stay prolific in order to stay good. A shabby score on a (brilliantly made) kerning test set it off last night, but it’s been percolating for years. It’s been a while since I’ve expended the effort to write well about wrinkles of the world I’ve inhabited.
Writing and designing were not previously practices meant to imbue me with cultural relevance so much as they were personal relevance: they were means to accrue self-confidence. Somehow, as the former became a byproduct, it was that I pursued. And it felt good – to have references queued up, flexibility and mobility in my career, disposable income, a role as a mentor – to have all those things afforded by a body of substantial work to one’s name.
And I forgot to make work that was relevant to myself. And when it stopped being relevant to me, I stopped making work as often. And when I stopped making work, I forgot how to make good work.
And I won’t be making good work for a while – I hope it’s a little while and not a long while. But I’ll be making work, and I hope that I produce something I judge favorably before too long.
I’d like to believe it’s not so much that I’ve forgotten how to write as I’ve just forgotten to write. Please bear with me as I test this hypothesis.