Tag Archives: feeding creativity

Care3

Here’s more on the care and feeding of your writer…..writers empty, particularly on long projects, like novels. Or they empty as they try to balance making a living at something else along with writing. Or they empty as they don’t ever finish a writing project. Or they empty as they mean to but don’t write. Or they empty as they don’t sell or get published. They get dry and used-up feelings. They get flat. They get sad and disheartened.

The artist’s date, a concept created by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, is an excellent way to make the curious, light- hearted child of your writer remember its smile. It’s a once a week date with yourself, and yourself only, to explore play, old dreams, forgotten curiosities. It a way to fill up the well. You can begin by listing 20 things you used to do that you don’t any more. Or by playing with your alter egos: what would you be if you could have five other lives: a dancer, a baker, a musician, a priest, a father? So you take out skates and go ice skating again or you go to a cathedral and listen to evensong or you sit in a park and watch young children play. You fill, and refilling is a slow process. It’s a correction of what has probably been years of neglect.

You pay attention again to an inner self. You take tiny pieces of forgotten dreams, tiny pieces of forgotten interests, and you do only that tiny piece: walk through art galleries soaking in color; ride the city bus to a place you haven’t explored but always looked interesting from the window; buy crayons and color blank pages or chalk up the sidewalk in front of your house. Paint a room red. Forgotten or long-for hobbies, classes you’d like to take if you had time, silly things you’d do if you dared, these are the closed boxes holding interest and curiosity, two things your writer needs to feel alive.  You recharge your  most tender and creative self with artist’s dates. You show respect when it feels like no one else in the world is.

It’s a daring act to make a continuing play date with your writer. It reopens longing, regret, curiosity, risk. And worst of all, maybe fun.

hiccups

I had a haiku hiccup Friday. I was sitting outside; it was morning; I was in pajamas and drinking tea. Wind was high; fall is here–my favorite time of year in Houston. I was attempting to give myself daydream time, nothing specific, just mind rambles, which I think I don’t do often enough. It’s part of an experiment I’m doing around enhancing creativity in a gentle way. (Another part of the experiment is artist’s dates.) As I sat there, I saw a monarch butterfly sail in quietly and land on the green of my jasmine. The monarch didn’t move, not even her wings, once she landed. My mind rambled: she looks like a sailboat, is she tired, sailboats tack, is she dying. And the next thing I knew I had that wonderful urge to write a haiku; only my garden and its small dramas seem to inspire me. So here are my attempts:

off-course a monarch

settles wearily too close—

wind chimes call—dying……………………..

#2

a winter monarch

sails into the yard—off course—

it’s come home to die…………….

Can you make it better? I bet you can. I didn’t play much with sails or tacking nor the monarch’s color nor rest……..but what fun! My haiku hiccup. I need them more often, but I have to be in a receptive, relaxed state; i.e., I must create the opportunity for such states. What feeds your writing soul? Find something and do it often!

getting ready

I leave soon. I leave Houston’s flat, coastal plain, the humidity that will open out for certain this week and make every breath heavy, make shirts and blouses soggy with perspiration. I leave a marvelous greening  that will be jungle by July if the summer has its usual rain. I leave routines: picking up grandchildren, going to exercise, sitting at my desk to work, lunching with friends, going to visit Mother. I leave friends who are like flowers in my life and circles of women that meet monthly or weekly to aid and comfort and listen to one another. I leave a husband who takes me for walks and makes me take my vitamins. And where do I go? West, to a writing residency in the town of Taos, which sits in a valley of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I will be all by myself, in my casita. Near will be other writers, artists, and composers, but we are to respect each other’s solitude, the literature tells me. We are here in create.

I feel amazed that this hovers on my horizon, I who live at sea level and don’t have a grand horizon. What will I create in a solitude I’ve never known? What will I see in my one small life that normal distractions keep me from seeing? What thoughts will visit me? What dreams? What work will I do? I know something inside will be shifting, moving the chairs and tables. I’m reminded of lines of the poet Mary Oliver that I looked at tonight: And have you finally figured out what beauty is for?/And have you changed your life?

Have you? Will I?