A year ago I began a daily practice of posting a 30-second video of nature on Facebook. Now that Outside #365 is about to be shared, I expect I'll still spend lots of time There, without necessarily sharing the results. I've appreciated the ongoing connection to a small group of folks - some housebound, some landlocked, some disabled or ill - all of us connected to the passing of the seasons, the motion of water and wind. With so much on hold, observing nature daily underscores how time passes, seasons change: there's a larger continuum than the arc of the pandemic. Various folks suggested I incorporate the Outsides into my work, or consolidate them into one large work. Since so many of my short films occur outdoors, in a sense I already have. Possibly in the future, it'll feel right to linger even longer on this kind of imagery - reflections in water especially - which hold such magic for me.
That's the million dollar question: what will I make next?
The previous entry in January was about how I'd kept busy furthering the voices of others, which has continued. A few more poetry collaborations with husband Daniel: The elders have fallen ... and Evolution of a Silhouette. A short tribute to my mother, Helen Renzi, for a series on Women's Suffrage in Berkshire County. An interview with music writer Dave Marsh for a symposium celebrating his work, called The Land of Hope & Dreams. And a series of 30+Instagram portraits of students at Rhode Island College, made with my long-time pal / producer Angelica Vessella. I'm currently editing a short Behind-the-Scenes to accompany the airing of Out of Ruin on Rhode Island PBS.
A Different Day and Dancing is an Old Friend, both made in 2020, have been screening all over the world - online, which is a bit like that famous tree falling in the forest. My secret hope is that both will outlive the "COVID era" moment, since the latter is largely about friendship, and the former is about family, college enlightenment and how black lives matter. It's high time I started thinking about what new project I might initiate next ...
Although, more accurately, the million-dollar question might be: will I make something next?
You've been here before with me. Now added to my cyclical self-doubt is a sense of the invisibility - irrelevancy? - regarding the value of the perspective of an almost-septuagenarian white woman working outside the mainstream. A friend recently countered my doubts by noting that I am one of the most focused people she knows. Yes, and might that very persistence be a way to avoid the question of whether focus is valued as an end in itself. (Valuable to whom? Compared to what?) If it weren't so painful, it would actually be laughable how regularly I return to the fundamental question: why make work?
For praise / feedback? Sure, I share the laurels from small film festivals with a certain amount of pride: they compensate for the many rejections. But what do they really mean? It's all too rare - especially online - that I get engaged feedback from a viewer, much less a critique from a re-viewer. So I ask: is there any lasting impact from the over 75 live dances, and nearly 40 short films I've made over the years?
Another friend says: surely the college students I work with benefit from our projects together. Right, so ok I'm a teacher/mentor to some, which is essentially an extension of being a mother = invisible + underpaid. There's also a biological timeline which parallels the continuity of my creative career: in about 1985 it was time for me to start a biological family. I thought it might sharpen my creative "focus" and in some ways I was right. Now almost 40 years later, I wonder if it's time to let go, and dedicate myself to the soft focus of being an elder, a grandmother even. (Yes, Virginia, I do understand that's not in my control. But there's motion, I assure you.)
Maybe control, focus, value are all just words to distract us from how small we are and how short life is. And that's something an old lady knows more than a young one.
Sorry to go on. Believe me, I understand it's a privilege to be able to ask these questions. But if any of you have had similar misgivings, and have any wisdom to share ... bring it on!