#012 : Casualties

  • Christopher Lutterodt-Quarcoo
  • Charisse Chikwiri

“No (Wo)Man Is an Island”

Image : Epiphany, 2013 (CL-Q) Soundtrack : Don’t wish me well, Solange / Anything, Janet Jackson -
“No Man Is an Island” by John Donne
As much as I would like to think my success is the sole result of persistence and resilience, I would be doing myself and those who have been the most supportive a great disservice. The path of all entrepreneurs is fraught with casualties of self-indulgence. There is no doubt, this is where relationships are tested to their limit and sometimes beyond. Not everyone is down for the cause, but the few who are deserve their roses while they can still smell them.
“When entering into a creative partnership, you most likely won’t know you are entering into a creative partnership. Like any other interaction the basics go without saying — make sure they don’t get on your nerves, maintain an honest dialogue and be respectful of the others cut off points. However, if you don’t cross at least one of those lines you’re probably doing it wrong.
Creative work consumes you. You can’t see past it; it is tantamount to anything important that may be going on in your life. Sometimes more than. Creative collaborations can encourage this ‘work-first’ mentality. Not necessarily a bad thing, just beware how hard you fan the fire.
Motivation is an obvious benefit. I would say in a healthy creative partnership you are in pseudo-competition with the person; however, you feel joy in any success they achieve as if it were your own.
Conversations with a creative partner create mental space to hash out ideas. Working without a studio for the past couple of years this has been crucial to me, a consistent ‘space’ to speak work into existence.
You will also get to know your creative partner very well. Most likely you will be there for some permutation of overdue triumph or midnight meltdown. If you’ve been following the emerging journal, I think it’s only fair that I reveal some salacious gossip/insight about the writer.
The hardest thing about working with Christopher is that he is an addict. Surviving on a precarious cocktail of downers (exhaustion, stress, overwork) and uppers (inspiration, success, progress) he is formidable in all senses of the word. It is one thing to believe your colleague is inspired; it is another to believe that the only rationale for their intensity is that their body must secretly secrete cocaine.
Like any addict, he can look you in the left eye and promise to relax while his right eye is already envisioning the next piece of work he will undertake. As a recovering workaholic, I recognise the signs yet I am unable to administer any real help. At times I feel that as his colleague I am a co-conspirator in his demise; however, any guilt on my part is assuaged by the knowledge that for Christopher to stop producing, is for Christopher to perish.”
- Akeelah Bertram
“It may seem unconventional to say this but I’ve always preferred for my future partner to not have everything together from the beginning. Perhaps it’s a romantic notion but the idea that we would grow and become successful together has been a preference instead of meeting a man at his peak. In reality, things are not quite as idyllic as I imagined.
There are several challenges you face when your partner is not only starting a new enterprise but an added element is that he is a creative.
You may wonder why does being a creative intensify this situation? Being one myself I know how self-obsessed we can be when it comes to our work. Honestly, it’s a requirement in order to produce something that we may only be 35% proud of. Off topic discussions are rare, if they occur at all. Sacrificially, we work long hours and forego sustenance, then when we retreat to our dreams, we are plagued by a multitude of variations. These are the symptoms that I have witnessed in Christopher and as his partner, I’m fully aware of all the emotional turmoil that he endures. It becomes apparent that any new venture will inevitably impact their state of consciousness, displaying a scope of feelings ranging from fear to joy. To the rest of the world they will project confidence and self-belief but behind closed doors doubt creeps in.
Word of advice, if you have doubts of your own, please deal with them. There is no room for your doubt, while they are busy dealing with their own. Questions to the effect of ‘is this worth it?’ or ‘will it work ?’ are reoccurring and potent. My answer tends to be ‘You won’t know unless trying.’ There is no point in sugarcoating or giving false hope. Nevertheless, comprehension of the fact that building something from the ground up isn’t straightforward and definitely isn’t easy, is crucial. Time is always of the essence, which means it may not be for you. It’s a hard reality to realise that your partner doesn’t have time for you, and if you can’t help them through a problem you will need to stand back and let them seek help from people who can. It’s not personal, it’s their business, their passion and their dreams. If they don’t put in everything now to make it happen when will they? as a remedy, I’ve learnt to keep my eyes on the goals, both his and my own to maintain focus and exorcise complaints of neglect .
During all of this, I realise that I form the balance in his life, when work and personal life are dangerously intertwined, therefore emotional stability has become key, and reminding him that the emotional extremes are temporary. If it’s joy let them enjoy the wins, this offers a glimmer of much-needed hope. While the encroaching fears need to transition into an actionable plan on how to improve. Clearly, this is a taxing, complex and frustrating dynamic, but with the right person, it’s important enough to justify.” — anonymous
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