Twitter analytics tell me my tweets are down 59.6%, tweet impressions down 48.4% and my reach is 26.4k. Compare that to March 78.5K. The picture this data paints is indicative of where I feel I am at.
Last March I was about to go away to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on a research artist lab. I had just been invited to a residency in Oulu, Northern Finland in December. The end of 2018 had been barren as far as paid work goes, in fact re-looking at my last blog – 11 rejections on the bounce – well double that and add some to get a figure for now. I was still feeling optimistic
We all go through peaks and troughs, the famine and feast of freelance. This famine has lasted longer than most. My optimism has faded, my tweets have declined as I feel there is little of interest to write or comment on. It’s a charting of my slide into depression.
We are 10 years into austerity and its still getting worse. Brexit is affecting arts spending and funding. It’s not just the impact of the actual work. Going to work increases my sense of connectivity, I meet people, I am engaged, I feel I am doing something meaningful – all good indicators for a sense of wellbeing. However, the converse is currently true. Without work I am isolated, my connectivity decreases, there becomes a lack of meaningfulness.
I know I am not the only one experiencing this decline in work and struggling with other elements of wellbeing. But I don’t hear much of it in conversation. I don’t hear the ‘yeah it’s f**king hard out there’. But how do we change it? How do we get out of it? Not just the situation about work but how do we become more compassionate as a sector? We are all so focussed on our own day to day survival do we notice if someone’s voice has become silent?
I have been fortunate to have some peoples ears to turn to, sometimes just to vent, sometimes for a heart to heart support. For that I am eternally grateful.
Last week I was at Pervasive Media Studio where I am a resident and received personal and professional support. It is my go to place when I feel like I currently do – it’s a great community. It reaffirms you aren’t invisible – no matter how much it feels like you are. It’s also great to get the perspective distance offers. Applying for things was beginning to get more desperate, less focussed, the belief in my own ideas and ability coming through in my writing, a self-fulfilling self-confidence crushing repetitive cycle. It was good to stop. Reflect. Re-focus.
And now it’s back to the self-care, the focussed considered applications, the small steps to feeling not more visible but more present. Who knows, maybe I’ll find something to tweet about again.