Friday, March 19, 2010

The Creative Process

As I mentioned in the last entry, I have not been writing in a few months. It's not that I haven't wanted to write or thought about writing; I definitely have. Inspiration has been a problem, what with a whole lot on my mind and the minutae of day-to-day life overtaking any creative juices tha may have been brewing.

For the last year or so I have reconnected with a friend via phone and facebook who is a talented, brilliant writer, musician, poet - a "renaissance" man, as it were. Our conversations have meandered from the daily doings of our lives to the arts and the creative process of late for both of us. I have valued these talks more than he knows, because they have lead me back to writing again and to think/wonder and create, which frankly I have been on autopilot for now many years past. We are similar souls, I think, though our politics and ages differ greatly. A true friend, he has bouyed me up during a very difficult passage of my life. I am grateful beyond words. He is a creative force I admire so much.

As such, one of our recent conversations revolved around creative blocks. For me, writer's block is a more apt description. I have come to think about creativity as a river. There are times when it flows with great gushes, spraying forth with such force and vigor as to liken a tidal wave. Other times, as of late, the river has been dammed up by the stones and mortar of worry, sickness, mundane tasks, family, work, and just plain stuff, so that all that is getting through is an occasional drip. It has been my ongoing personal challenge to remove those obstacles in such as way as they cannot collapse and jam up the flow again. It seems like it should be easy. It isn't.

I am one of those people others may consider a "go to" person. Need a little cash? Go to.... Need consolation? Go to.... Need help with a project? Go to.... Need a volunteer to fill in? Go to.... Need X amount of chores/errands run? Go to.... Need, need, need. My problem (and shouldn't it be obvious) is that I have a very difficult time saying no, and protecting my time and energy. Because if I think there is a need, then I think I should do the "christian" thing and helping out. In helping others I feel validated and valued I suppose, and on some level, liked/loved a bit more because of my efforts. But as my counselor says, that's messed up. (Well, she doesn't say it exactly that way, but it boils down to that.) Now I know for sure that life doesn't actually work this way (that love, respect, etc are earned by doing for others), and I have been taken advantage of WAY too many times to count by bosses, friends, family, associates, and so on, proving just that point. The problem with being a GO-TO is that it leaves little left for my own real needs, aspirations and goals. Everyone elses's come fiirst. And I really don't feel any more loved than I ever did. Sometimes less, actually.

It is fairly obvious that some things are going to have to change drastically if I am going to achieve my creative goals. First of all, in any creative process I think that practically there has to be some objective set. Well, for me, anyway. I function much better under deadline - it keeps me on task. Years ago I went to a Franklin Planner seminar that was not only about using the planner, but mapping in personal goals to the planning of time. I have never forgotten that speaker or the message, though until recently, I had forgotten the goal I said I wanted to accomplish at the time I took that class. It is now some 15 years later and I am no closer to achieving that goal, which is a first draft of a novel idea I've had for some time. "Some time" being the last 18-20 years. So that begs a whole lot of introspection, methinks.

Perhaps it's just that I am afraid to write? My father always said "never put anything in writing.". Of course, he's a lawyer, so go figure, right? I kind of took that to mean never-ever write down something you FEEL. Trouble is, you have to feel to write. It doesn't matter whether or not you are Dr. Seuss or Dr. Oz. Something has to motivate you, get you out of your head and onto paper. For me, it absolutely is about feeling something. So it will take pushing through my head and those paternal warnings to get this done. It's going to take dusting off past hurts and allowing them to run their course. It will take courage - to boldly go where I haven't before, to put myself out to the universe and not care what comes back, only that I have put it out there. THAT is the creative process.

And yes, setting goals is an important component that I cannot overlook from that long-ago Franklin Planner seminar. If the tasks are scheduled into my calendar, then I can find the time necessary to inch closer to a tangible realization of my goal. When my friend and I spoke a week or two ago, I reminded him that we can't let that stone and mortar settle in from the minutae of daily life - either of us. The river needs to flow. I need to take my own advice, certainly. He has since put pen to paper. I have yet to do so, other than here. But his action has inspired me to take like action. I CAN find the time if I just plan it. I will find the time to make a difference not in someone else's life, but in my own. At the end of the day, I'm the one I have to live with, right?

When they are planting me in the ground some day, I don't want to be remembered as just that "GO-TO" girl. I really want my life's work to be more tangible. I don't want fame - I'm far too shy for that. I do want my stories read, if only by a few people. (But being published WOULD be sweet!) I do want others to say that I made them think and maybe even feel with my words. I'm no spring chicken any longer. And time's a-wasting. So Paul, my friend, if you read this, know it's YOUR words that have motivated me to take the chance. Now or never, baby, now or never.

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