"I'm getting worried."
"Why. What's up?"
"I need more baubles"
"More? We've been collecting stuff non-stop for nearly 4 years. The shelves in the basement are stuffed with found objects. You've probably used about 2% of what we've collected."
"I need different stuff"
"I need plastic and non-rusty stuff."
As much as my brain is throwing a fit in an attempt to be with this, I know she's right. She's been using less and less rusty metal.
I need a few moments to let the short films playing in my head simmer down. The hundreds of hours of finding, carefully cleaning and storing over a thousand pieces of scrap metal. Some part of me knew that most of it wouldn't get worked into art. Paula usually has no idea how she'll use a piece of scrap until she's in process and the proper context shows up.
"I get. I get it. You're right. Let's go to the junkyard next week and stock up on some non-rusty stuff."
"Really? OK, how about Tuesday?"
". . . . sure. "
I've learned by watching Paula's creative process that an artist must find ways to let go of safe sensibilities in order to keep developing. Investing so much time, effort, money or other resources into a particular direction can create a lot of resistance to changing course. I think this keeps many artists from developing a unique voice. Paula has the ability to abandon a project that isn't working after months of time investment. She'll keep tweaking a piece or even completely take it apart to rebuild it a different way regardless of how much time or money has been sunk into it. It's still an emotional struggle, but she doesn't get stuck. I've learned from this greatly. Creative inspiration, like fire, needs space to get ripping.
I've found that the biggest breakthrough in my writing has been to let go and delete as many extraneous words as possible. Sometimes that leads to completely trashing a story and starting fresh by picking through the bones. The sooner you can recognize that something is no longer relevant to your work and move on, the better. To look at a studio full of supplies and make that call is a decision that I admire.