Thursday, July 25, 2013

Backing up the Dam or Writing Fuel?

photo by Dot.

It's not a bad time. Or necessarily a hard time. But it's one of those "a lot" times.

I came off of vacation into a heavy work time - no complaints, I have the work, I was able to make up some of the work time missed. The beauty and struggle of being part-time employed combined with self-employed is that there is no PTO and yet there is some work hours flexibility.

In that busy time I did some editing of a couple short stories; one of them is going to be submitted to a publication this weekend. I also worked on two pieces from the M-book.

It's good to be back in the garden, which is huge. Well, the parts of it that are still producing. The spinach outgrew itself and now new seeds are planted. One kale type is about expired and the other is nice a big and will become tasty kale chips in the next few days (when I have time to harvest, trim away the woody parts, and put them in the dehydrator). The tomato plants and the spaghetti squash are the giants. I wonder what dehydrated spaghetti squash will be like? Squash chips, anyone?

And my own other projects in the wings. The ideas written on paper while on vacation. The email notes to self of scenes or characters or germs of a story. Photos for visual creations, memory aids to detail in a story. And more.

Today I picked blueberries in a writing friend's yard and she gave me a couple of squash, as well. I petted her recovering dog and we talked about writing, the current political scandal on the home front, growing fruits and vegetables, and whether saving things that might help with a future book are actually fodder for creating story or a memory aid of a time it's hard to let go of. And more.

And I'm looking at that interplay, the tension, between work and creativity - between work and art. Is that a necessary and healthy tension for most of us? I'm not sure. The person I was talking with yesterday says, yes, for most people it is. Because if only the independently wealthy or that magical infinitesimal group of superstars who make it are the ones who are allowed to create, we're all in trouble. Right? She has a point.

My perspective now as I wrap up this post has changed from when I started it two days ago. I've made a conscious decision to not go back and edit out the rough parts or the parts that have changed; I've even decided to leave the title, which is still accurate and yet this post has changed.

I was feeling stuck when I started this writing. Not so much stuck as hovering in a place of waiting to see what was going to happen next before moving forward with anything. Hovering, watchful, wary, nonproductive. Partly because I have a few important people in my life going through some really hard things right now. Really hard. It's given me some personal introspection and "things to work on" and that's okay - but I was hovering, unknowing, waiting.

I think the wind has shifted and I feel some movement.

But the questions still remain about :
- how much discordance is too much, when we cross the line from "artistic suffering" (I know - hold that thought, that's another writing all its own) to paralyzing overwhelmedness
- what are the key ingredients for keeping the energy moving through those times? when it's Our Time? when it's a Friend's Time?
- is it maybe a good idea to just write it down now, as it goes, as it is; without thought toward literary merit or publication? Or is it better to let it pass through and write it down later, with some perspective, with intent? Or both?
- do we really need to suffer for our art? No - that one I will answer for myself now: I don't believe it is necessary to suffer to create. I think suffering gives us insights and that there will be suffering - but I don't think we have to seek out suffering in order to create; we have to be present to create and that brings with it a whole range of experiences and emotions.
- balancing creative time with work and home and family and friends.

"Wallabies Talk the Talk"


  1. You put words to so much that has been sitting about me lately - unproductive, waiting (and my vegetables that didn't grow at all!) I like that you started and just kept going and watched the work change before you. There is some kind of magical artfulness in that alone I think. As for now and later - I'd say both, but I'd be hypocritical in that I usually opt for later, and it's not always the best choice for me.

    1. Thank you, Jo, for reading and commenting. And I wonder : you said you usually opt for later. For you, what does that do in terms of your writing? For example, I know that if I write it later, it is often clearer to the reader and I can see where I need to open it up more and can step back, with a wider perspective. (Sometimes I do have to write something down soon after it happens. But I find that I tend to get stuck in the details of the thing and struggle more with the narrative flow of the piece.)