It happens. Life just seems to balloon in and squeeze out any room for creative pursuits.
It’s happening to me, right now. I’m meant to add photos to this weekly blog of all the things I’ve been working on, but all I have to show you are photos of ingredients. No pretty holiday meal all laid out and ready to consume; just the mise en place of things that are supposed to be finished recipes.
Because I’m keeping this real.
I started an exploration of a multi-media piece about 3 weeks ago, or so. There’s no set deadline of any kind for this, I’m just giving something a try. Still, I would have liked it finished by now.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about those packages of purple and pink! They are dyed wool rovings. It’s the stuff of yarn before it’s wound through a spinning wheel and turned into the twisted strands for knitting (or crochet) needles.
But I’m not going to knit with these–I’m going to make wool dreadlocks! I used to have dreadlocks for about seven years, and I loved them, but they got very long and very heavy, and they were bringing on headaches. My family helped me unwind them (it took a few weeks), and I’ve longed for a return to those bunchy, scrunchy, texture-y things, on an off, over the years since. I recently discovered wool dreads, and I’m going to make my own!
But wait, there’s more:
I’ve had holiday craft bits strewn across my studio table for days. I’m still not sure where our Christmas lights have landed, due to our move to this house. We have our tree up, and decorated, but the emptied and leftover tubs are still stacked up in the front room.
I would like to be able to say that I’m taking it in stride, happily going about my days with an eager anticipation that soon I’ll return to these creative things and everything will fall into place.
But as I’ve said, I’m keeping this real.
And I haven’t even mentioned, yet, that it’s time for an upswing in plans and processes concerning the feature film I’ve written and will be directing/producing/filming next year!
I’ll tell you what I am struggling with, not because it’s easy for me to share this stuff, but because that’s the message of this blog. #DontWaitCreate isn’t just a catchy hashtag, it’s my own call to myself to get up, get real, and start creating the life I really, truly want.
My struggle is voices. My head is full of recorded messages that are on auto-rewind-and-play. They are not kind. They are not gentle. They do not want me to take risks and face challenges. They boss me around, and prick me with shame.
Lately, the voices have been chiding me with what things “grown-ups” are supposed to be doing. Responsibilities like housekeeping. Organizing. Unpacking the remainder of those moving boxes, gone dusty in the corner of the bedroom, their contents forgotten by now. How dare I sit in the studio and fiddle about with crayons and construction paper, when I have responsibilities?
It’s one of my biggies.
In the past 20-odd years or so, I’ve completed five novels, a novella, numerous short stories (and won some spiffy awards), three feature-length screenplays, a handful of short screenplays, and a t.v./cable series.
And I’ve filmed some of those short screenplays, as well as many skits and gaming videos for a YouTube channel my family and I ran for a year. (The channel is still there, for now!)
You’d think by now I’ve managed to make #DontWaitCreate a daily mantra. That I’ve learned to make creativity a priority.
But, alas, young Padawan, those voices are strong for the dark side.
I strive hard to get all my “real work” done: the bathrooms shining; the laundry washed, folded and put away; the bills paid and filed; the sink empty of dishes and the dishwasher singing; groceries bought, organized, and meals planned and cooked, and laid out on placemats with my hair done up like June Cleaver and my makeup spotless; the dentist appointments made and kept, and doctors, and vets, and the flowers weeded, the lawn mowed…
…I could go on and on. Because that’s life. Daily upkeep is necessary, and it goes on and on.
So how do I make my creativity my full-time job? That’s the life I want. Not just Christmas crafts for holiday times. Not just dabbling with the concept of multi-media art to see what happens. All that is great, too, but I want to grow my film studio, Big Imagine, into a force to be reckoned with.
You might not want, or need, to make creativity your full time job. You may be wishing just for enough time and energy to finish that scrapbooking page once and for all, or to take that sculpting class you’ve always dreamed about.
Today, I’d like to just finish the holiday flowerpots that are supposed to be decorating my mailbox.
That’s where I am. Because life.
I can tell you what doesn’t work.
Waiting. Wishing for the right moment.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I can tell you what does work.
I have to remember that being creative is not the opposite of being responsible! It is a part of it. It’s just as important as clean dishes and physical exercise and a healthy diet. Human beings wish to express, to feel, to be heard and seen. Creativity is not an indulgence we slap on at the end of things, like a chocolate dessert we guiltily enjoy and hope no one is looking.
Creativity is good for our brains, and good for our hearts. To let our imaginative muscles atrophy is a disservice to our mental health, just as being a couch potato is detrimental to our physical health.
Let’s make a space for it today. Together.
Let’s put that mise en place into a pot, and get a project cooking.
It’s the responsible thing to do!
This blog is meant, mostly, to be a sort of running update of my creative projects, to both inspire and encourage those of you who might be following along. I believe everyone has the capacity for creativity, in as many different ways as there are different individuals, but we don’t always prioritize it in our lives.
I believe we should.
But life is unpredictable and, despite our best efforts as a human race to control it, life remains untamed and even a little bit feral. And so this blog is meant to record that, too, because, while being artfully creative cranks up the colors and the volume and the textures of the life experience, being mentally creative can help us turn the prism of our understanding, to find a new angle and a new perspective. Even (or especially) when life takes that unexpected twist.
I believe we should do that, too.
After all, we are all under construction until our last breath on this earth. We are all a creative project-in-progress.
This week, I had no time in my personal studio, as I was traveling for a funeral, so I turned to the greatest creative studio of all time, instead: the big world, outside.
I met with family members I hadn’t seen in a long time, and we cried together for our loss, and we laughed together for happy memories.
I tasted new cultural recipes, and found old favorites and some new ones. I relived the feel of cheeks bitten raw by Michigan winter, and kissed the feel of cheeks turned soft by years of friendship.
And among the many moments–of lives at an end, of lives at a beginning, of lives on the verge of change, and lives embracing the comfort of the known–there was even time for teaching and learning some artful creativity, as there should be.
This is the architecture of me. Moment by moment, I build by encounters, and events, and observations.
I am the structure built by my life experience, and creativity is my windows.
This week has seen a lot of work going on, so, please, pardon my dust.