Observation Journal: Sparks and navigable worlds

Something I enjoy about the observation journal is revisiting different approaches and digging into what does and doesn’t work for me, and why, and what I can do with that knowledge.

Double page of observation journal, densely handwritten. On the left, 5 things seen, heard, and done that day. On the right, a collage of vintage fashion photos with the words: 

Here are the Notorious smiling Women 
What terrific clothes they wear
THEY combine into a sophisticated fashion Code.
the notorious smiling women

On the left-hand page: disconcerting bathrooms and a “definite autumnal feeling”.

On the right-hand page: Every so often I wonder if collage is a thing I can do, and every time I realise that it definitely isn’t. I love the meditative aspect of it, and the recombining of elements, but I prefer that to happen at the front end of the creative process rather than being the final stage. For me it’s the spark that kicks off making a new thing — the making of it is something different. This continues not to diminish my enjoyment of other people’s collage — the reservations are about my enjoyment of various aspects of the process of making things. But while I find my collage hilariously bad, I definitely want to know more about the nefarious but fashionable adventures of the notorious smiling women.

And I wanted to note the summary page for this week, too, because it touches on a few points that have continued to echo through the observation journal.

  • The pleasure of watching other people learn to be competent in their chosen field. In this week, it was prompted by apprentices in the ceiling, but it also resonates with low-drama cooking shows, and stories where a character is not yet a master of their profession, but is taking practical steps towards becoming one. It’s a wonderful place for stories to draw forward motion from, without necessarily having antagonists or obvious conflict. And it ties into staginess and contained worlds, because the “romance of competence” (or fantasy of competence) relies the contained and navigable worlds of genres-of-manners, to which I keep returning (Heyer… in space!)
  • Another is that I’m much happier if there are systems or other people in place to say no to things without my direct intervention — or at least, without me feeling like I’m the one disappointing everyone including the ideal version on myself. I’m still working on what to do about this, or how to frame it so that it works for me. Although I might have just had a breakthrough on this thanks to an understanding reply to a difficult email! Stay tuned.
  • Time and persistence, vs a spark, vs a bright enough spark. Impetus vs the grind. This is an ongoing balance, and when I get it right, everything is wonderful. It relates to the first point on the right-hand page: to push ideas further immediately. I keep forgetting this lesson, because it always leads to SO MANY PROJECTS, and then deadlines and admin and despair, and rediscovery. So, not exactly balance. One of the benefits of this series of posts is that I have a reason to re-review these pages.

2 thoughts on “Observation Journal: Sparks and navigable worlds

  1. Pingback: September post round-up | Kathleen Jennings

  2. Pingback: Observation Journal: The evolving review, art process, sparks | Kathleen Jennings

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