George Saunders on allegiance to one's style

A writer-friend of mine, Casey Plett, turned me on to this project a classmate of his at Columbia is working on called The Days of Yore. It's a collection of interviews with various writers (and a few artists, musicians, etc., but mostly writers) about the days before they were famous/acclaimed and whatnot. It's fairly run-of-the-mill content-wise, but has this 'talking shop' feeling that is generally lacking from more public-interest type interviews. After all, it's writers talking to writers, so the combination of articulative skill and a deep connection with the creative process results in a pretty successful finished product. (I feel like I get more out of these writer-to-writer conversations than I would get out of an equivalent artist-to-artist interview specifically because of the skill of articulation that writers necessarily have... We visual artists are not necessarily the best of wordsmiths, let's admit it.)

Anyway, the most recent installment, interviewing George Saunders (who to be quite honest I've never heard of) included this statement, which struck me as being particularly relevant to my current style/subject shift: "...At any given moment, certain styles are going to seem more urgent and truthful. So the trick is not to get fossilized in something you’ve already done, out of some sense of allegiance to 'your' style."


In the most recent manic, figurative painting phase, I've been painting frantically at night, listening exclusively to Floater's Stone by Stone through headphones (headphones give a much more thoroughly insulated feeling than speakers in that they block out all ambient noise -- footsteps of A headed for the bathroom, dog nails across the wood floor -- and allow me to be contently straight-jacketed inside my own head), photographing the stages of each painting diligently, but otherwise avoiding looking at them. Especially in daytime. During nighttime, I've decided, my mind accesses this whole other part of itself, and the resultant mind-hand coordination is way more direct.

Not that it means I have any idea where it's going. That's the motivation behind not looking at the work except when I'm working on it. Trying to not second-guess myself. Trying to let my gut have its way with the world.