The first time you saw him, he was hurrying down the street, hat brim pulled low, and his cape flying out behind him like a crow’s wings. He glanced sideways and stopped on the spot. He said, “I’ve found you. Finally.” His face had a feminine quality.
At first, there were long walks as he described your thoughts in illuminated detail and then tied the pieces together with insight and compassion. The world was curious with no time to cook. You nibbled apples and cheese with a glass of red. Sometimes you cried from the sheer beauty of the turn of a phrase. It was the glory of being truly known. Understood. You had to fall in love.
But he changed. He became fickle and moody. Sometimes he came home after you were asleep at night or left before you woke up in the morning. He trashed the bathroom, ate all the cookies, and then told your friends you needed to lose weight. Worst of all, he became impatient with your words, tapping his foot and checking his watch. He was all drama and no rent money.
Does your creativity behave like a bad boyfriend?
[A reminder: This is a series about writing; a map of the paths and stopovers that I made, with writing exercises included. It isn’t that I think I’m an expert or that my book sales have bought me a second home. Or even a second bathroom in this home. I’ve just had such a great time and sharing it serves as a thank you. Friend me on Facebook and ask if you’d like to be part of the online group. We work on the honor system; participate as you like. Writing is common sense; you’ll get about as much out of it as you put in.]
Do you really want him back? Wasn’t he a bit over-dressed to begin with? I’m going to suggest something decidedly un-romantic. Consider replacing your dysfunctional creative drama with the proper use of a small spiral notebook. And if that’s too old school, there’s an app for that.
At twenty-years-old, I started a career as a self-employed artist. What seemed like a wildly romantic adventure (showing in New York at twenty-five) was just exactly like a job. I kept hours and paid bills. I had the usual foibles in the beginning as I learned to trust myself but it was people apologizing for their lack of artistic skill that did the most to foster my confidence. But not like you’d expect…
Friends constantly told me they had absolutely no creative skill. Yet some announced their politics by paying wild attention to their appearance. Some cooked beautiful feasts, while others approached their jobs with unique enthusiasm. I saw art in sciences like medicine and space travel. Even my car mechanic seemed like a renaissance man.
So, I took a breath and got comfortable. If art was brain science and cooking dinner, then it followed that life was a creative endeavor by design. Art is our birth language; it comes with our bones and skin. Our only choice is what to do with it.
What if it’s as easy as teaching ourselves to say yes?
If creativity could be seen as a big fat chicken, the last thing I’d want to do is grab him by the throat and squeeze him past squawking, till his eyes popped out. In other words, kindly give yourself a break. Creativity isn’t a timed test. Sitting in front of the computer, squint-eyed, coffee-soaked and knuckle-cracked while waiting for inspiration is too much drama. Besides, it makes the dog nervous.
That brings me back to the small spiral notebook. I always carry one. My best thoughts come to me while I’m mildly distracted and mucking is the perfect time for brainstorming. I move slowly through the pens, letting physical muscles warm up the mental ones. As muck cart fills, I jot down passing thoughts, and all the while, get encouragement from those who help my creative process along by pooping out the hay that I worked to buy and then asking if it’s time for lunch yet. In the meantime, blog topics and plot solutions blossom in the fertile environment. It’s a creative circle if you tilt your head like a Corgi.
The bottom line is simple but sometimes a challenge to remember. We are each a work of art; individually made of star-dust and desire. You don’t have to write or paint or fly on wings to prove that. Art is the past-tense of breathing; the by-product of curating a life well-lived. Kind of redefines muck, when you look at it that way.
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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