Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Weathering the Creative Storm

Last week I was a light skiff, slicing through the sparkling blue sea, the wind at my back, unstoppable – producing pages, projects, proposals, moving gracefully toward my destination. This week I'm a stone sinking to the muddy bottom. Or I’m the rusty anchor keeping the boat docked – or I am the docked boat itself, as the storm rises, being tossed and heaved about, but going nowhere.

How can life turn on a dime like that?

Okay, I woke-up with a cold yesterday, and I’ve been through a half-box of Kleenex in 24 hours. But it’s more than that. It’s Resistance – that ever-present enemy of Creativity – or the enemy of ‘any activity whose aim is to tighter abdominals’ as Steven Pressman puts it in The War of Art.

This book has seen me through many dark creative voids, reminding me that ‘Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us.’

When you’re working on a book, it’s everywhere. Even writing this blog entry this morning (instead of facing Chapter 6 and the messy turning point in my story) is Resistance. Dang, I thought I was doing something productive.

Resistance lurks underneath my dining room table, where I write, masquerading as Confusion and Self-Doubt – convincing me I have no idea where I’m going with my story, I’ve lost control of my characters, my prose is forced, and... maybe it’s time to take a break, shift gears, work on something else. I'll go clean the grime from around the edges of the stove with a toothpick - that will be a better use of my time.

Talk about Resistance! It mutates like bacteria, so it can maintain its potency - and this new strain is quite insidious. Here's what it's got me telling myself now:

“Oh, I’ve got a better story to write – I’ll just put this one on the back burner and return to it when I am RE-inspired, and the other one, which I put on the back burner in 1998(!) is finished. Ha!”

I take a big breath and face the storm head-on, diving back into Chapter 6, fingers on my keyboard, finding my place, beginning again, and ah, here's a surprise…

"The acacias are in bloom. Each day a new tree explodes with fat yellow flowers that are the size of my hand. But from a distance, they are puffy yellow clouds that hang over the lagoa and rain their trumpet-like blooms onto the pavement – shrouding the ground in pools of gold. I poke my camera through one of the clay honeycomb bricks that line the hallway outside our apartment door. My skinny point-and-shoot lens, when fully zoomed and angled just so, has an unobstructed view, catching images with yellow bleeding off the edges of my frame – a few church steeples and tall exotic palms climbing the hill in the distance. I snap away, in my boxers and bare feet, quickly, stealthily, before one of the neighbors pops out and catches me lurking around half-clothed. They are already suspect of what goes on in 1012 – this new Americana entering the scene and speaking – or yelling – in a language they can’t possibly understand through the walls.”

Now, time for a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dreams for Sale

It's so hard to know. What dream to buy? Which path to take? Sometimes you have to just go, jump, take the leap. Does anyone ever know? If they do, they're probably faking it. So why not just go and pretend you know too.

Maybe you'll end up on the right road - or maybe you'll get lost and have to start over - or maybe you'll take a left turn and end up where you're supposed to be.

No matter what, in the end, you'll be dead.

Might as well make the journey at least interesting.