• Ashley Gilmour

Ragged, Tattered and Jagged

Updated: Feb 21, 2019



“For though my rhyme be ragged,

Tattered and jagged,

Rudely rain-beaten,

Rusty and moth-eaten,

If ye take well therewith,

It hath in it some pith.”


- John Skelton



The last three years have been incredible. I’ve edited three documentaries for broadcast, worked on a variety of client projects, and met inspiring and talented creatives along the way.


And yet I find myself sitting in a small café in the Plateau, looking out at a snowy Montréal and wondering whether I’ve lost touch with my own creativity. I feel I’ve been churning out one thing after another without a chance to soak any of it in and understand where I find myself now.


Whenever I feel I’m losing touch with my artistic self, I pick up my worn and coffee-stained copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. And so I’m rereading it front to back, almost as though I’m back to square one of her process of creative recovery.


The first time I read her book (approximately 6 years ago), I drafted up the Artistic Statement that you find on this website. But when I reread that Statement a couple of weeks ago, it dawned on me that I’m not living up to it at all. I had committed myself to working at a slow and mindful pace and to creating within a healthy artistic atmosphere. Yet now I’m nothing short of creative burnout. I’ve been working long hours for months and years on end and feel rather “ragged, tattered, and jagged.”


And so I’m at a point where I’m trying to restructure my life in a way that actually allows me to live a balanced, creative life.


For the first time, I’m being incredibly selective about the projects that I take on. I have to say that it’s starting to feel good. I’m taking evenings and weekends off to recoup after the intensity of a day’s work. And I’m finding time to journal, read, and ponder. For me personally, those three elements are the very foundations of my creative self. In fact, the moment I stop taking the time to reflect is the moment that I need to stop calling myself an artist.


I’ve also been exploring different activities I’ve always wanted to pursue but never carved out the time to make them happen. One of those things is screenwriting. I am in love with words, dialogue, and how characters speak and react to each other.


While considering the pursuit of this artform, I recently started watching Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass, and it struck me when he said that “Dialogue is character.” He is so right. Our characters, our identities, our state of being inhabits the words (or lack thereof) that we use. I would add that what makes cinema such a golden form of storytelling is that it visually captures the way that characters speak. Their expressions - that subtle glance out the window, that sheepish look between sentences, that hurried delivery of that pivotal phrase - animate their words with personality and atmosphere.


As a film editor, I’ve fallen head over heels with rhythm, carefully crafted emotional arcs, and the language of cinema. I wonder if filmmaking is also taking me back to my first love: writing. Perhaps I can merge the two and that’s where my creative rebirth can be found. Perhaps "it hath in it some pith."


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