Create Fun

Here it is, the unofficial end of summer. Labor Day weekend. A time to celebrate the diligent labor that created this country. Do we still have that work ethic? Do we still work hard for the sake of a job well done? One thing is for sure; it is easier to persevere in our work when our work is what we want to do, when our work is not work. Creativity should not be work, right? But of course there are revisions and edits that need to be made, practice routines that must be accomplished, clean up after a project that can’t be ignored. Sometimes, even when we work at what is our passion (or follow our creativity outside of our salaried positions), sometimes even the creativity seems drudge-full. Everyone goes through moments like this. That’s when we need to remember our work ethic. That’s when we need to remember our creative desire. That’s when we need to create fun.

Did you ever babysit? Or are you a mother of a young child? Do you remember making a game out of cleaning up the toys before the parents came home? or before moving on to the next activity? “Who can toss the most stuffed animals into the box?” “Can you drive the train into the station?” “Time to practice parking–the tricycle goes over here!” For our children we make up games to get the drudgery done and re-establish some order to the space. Why not do it for ourselves?

Sometimes the answer is as easy as putting on some music or talking to a friend. Recently I was painting a tiny, tedious white picket fence around a porch in an oil painting. First, I sketched it in with charcoal, giving it my undivided attention. Then, I took a little break and chatted with a friend in the studio. Next, I went back to it with paint and again gave it my undivided attention as I painted in those tiny pickets. But soon, someone else came in and I took a quick break to say hello. Back to the painting–more concentration. Step back, observe, take a drink of coffee. More attention. Ask advice. Back to the pickets–adjusting size and color for the perspective and shadows. Was this a quick way to achieve a small portion of the painting? No. Does that fence look good? Yes. Was I looking forward to painting that fence? No. Am I happy with it and did I feel good when I finished? Yes. So maybe we also need to give ourselves time to slow down when the going gets sludgy–as long as we don’t stop. And try to remember that feeling of “it’s done, and it’s good” we had the last time we ran into a tedious revision.

Today, I think I’ll finally do some editing. I also have “work work” to do answering e-mails and creating courses. But think about it–in creating or updating my courses for next year, I get to read some really great poetry or short stories. In editing, I get to revisit my characters and see how they are doing, make their journeys smoother. What’s not fun about that? And I’m sure there’ll be many cups of coffee, glasses of water, and walks around the garden to motivate me.

How do you make those down moments fun? What do you do to keep a smile when the creation becomes a monster? And can anyone convince me that  running scales on the flute is fun?

Bumps in the road

I had fully expected this post to be about the many faces of vacation and how we recharge our batteries. I had planned to share some nature photography and sketching. Then, something unexpected happened. On our second day of vacation during which we expected to be fairly active, I ended up in the hospital having an emergency appendectomy. Suddenly, our plans changed. While I was lucky enough to have the surgery laproscopically, I could no longer walk the length of the resort no less hike the mountains. My husband has been gallantly “pushing me around” in a wheelchair. And I find I need to rest, a lot.

So what about my creativity? I realize how much I take my health for granted. Right now, I cannot even take the computer out of the closet. But, if something is important to us, we can adjust. For example, I’m writing this on my Kindle. It’s slower, but it works. I can still crochet easily. And when I finally get over the anesthesia, writing and sketching will return.

I’m trying to remain positive. There are so many people who have worse or longer term conditions than I. Six weeks from now I should be back to normal, but by then, I’ll be back in the classroom with less time for personal creativity. I know I won’t finish the curtains this summer. And art class will be a challenge because I’m not supposed to lift anything, snd painting supplies are bulky and weighty. But I will try to make the best of my summer time left to create. I may just have to get creative to be creative.

What do you do when your creativity hits a bump in the road?

Butt in Chair…

That’s what we need to give ourselves time for in order to keep on with the creativity. Today I had to take an unexpected trip into Manhattan, and most of my Manhattanite friends, like true Manhattanites, had fled the city for August.  So, I went to one of my favorite watering holes for lunch, sat at the bar, and took out my notebook. I made significant progress on my story. Not only did I finish some additions to an earlier section, I began a new section that I’ve been cogitating on for some time now. Today, because I gave myself some serious butt in chair time with minimal distractions, the story went from mind to paper. Is there more to do? Of course, but less than yesterday!

This leads me to a discussion I was having with another artist the other day about giving ourselves the space to create. Where do you create? What is your space like? My friend was commenting that too many women don’t give themselves the space to work, that too many women do their creations at the kitchen table after everyone else has been taken care of. Do you agree? And is the kitchen table a bad place? 

Virginia Woolf argued that women need “A Room of One’s Own” to create and to fully realize their potential. But today in a two bedroom apartment one cannot have both a studio and a man cave. I have a cabinet with my fabric, and I have my grandmother’s sewing machine, not to mention a desk which technically is for both of us, but in reality, only I use it.  But the desk is where I do the bills and grade papers. I find the kitchen table a good place to write–first drafts at least. 

I’d love to hear about your space. And I’m sure this is a topic I will be returning to in the future.

Create a Diversion!

The past few days have been rife with customer service calls as the Internet company thought we had cancelled our cable and, therefore, they were cancelling our Internet. Then as a board member of our co-op community I had to deal with issues between shareholders and the management company. I needed my creativity outlets to keep me calm, to keep me happy, to keep me in summer mode!!!

The story is still slow going, but since that last section finished, I have made changes and additions to previous sections. I think it may be time to start typing. Yes, that’s right. I still do most of my first drafts and first revisions in pen and ink. I like to get a journal or notebook and write right through it. This particular yellow notebook with muted green, white and grey polka dots is almost finished. Yet, that’s not actually my yardstick. I think I need to type up, revising as I go, the sections finished in order to know where to go next. Do you have a favorite method of writing first drafts? How do you decide when/where to go next?

In the past week, I’ve also been painting. I’ve been to art class three times in the week with hopes of going again on Saturday. The painting is finally beginning to look like…should I tell you?…okay, to look like a house, a particular house. There’s much left to do, but it is so great when I reach that point when the painting stops looking so flat and begins to come to life. Charlie, my teacher, has really helped me this week. Comments about the quality of the white or the technique of painting a little scene background before painting the foreground  which will obscure most of what was just painted have really moved me in the right direction. I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you!

Next up: I need to finish the drapes for the bedroom. You’ve seen them, but there’s another window! And always there’s crocheting. I always seem to be working on a blanket. They take me forever, but I don’t mind. The stitching is centering.

All this creativity helped keep me calm during those trying calls and emails this past week. How does creativity help you in your life?

Sew, what did you do today?

See the picture below?  That was my creativity today! No, I haven’t given up on my story. While I only wrote a couple of paragraphs, I did much thinking about characters and plot. You writers out there know how important it is to live with one’s characters is; I gave them some time today to percolate. But my real creative endeavor today was sewing curtains for the master bedroom. Okay–I still need to hem them, and there is another window in the room, but, it’s a good start and the I’m really looking forward to not having the sun shining in my face at 5:58 am.Image

Section Complete!

Yesterday I was creative, but not as much as I would have liked. Nonetheless, I did get some writing done before heading out to a party for a seven year old and thirteen year old. We celebrated my nephew’s “gotcha day” and my niece’s middle school graduation. A good time was had by all. Sometimes it’s creative just to be with people!

Today though was even more successful. After Mass, I came home and sat at the kitchen table hoping to eek out a few words, a paragraph or two, something to move the story along. Before I knew it, this section is complete! It feels so good. I know that this section of this story still needs revision at the least and at the worst will never make it into the whole, but I also knew that I needed to write it. I started it and couldn’t stop though it may not actually move my story forward. Nonetheless, I had to complete it, and I did! Yeah!

So, I went to the gym later than I wanted; as a result, I missed my hubby’s phone call inviting me to a bbq–but that’s okay. I got there late, but still had a great time with a completed story segment under my belt. And I even ordered printer ink so I can print out my completed story and send it in this week. Stay tuned for updates.

Meanwhile, tell me how you are doing? What’s creative in your life?

Day Two–Activity Level Low

Well, it’s only the second day of August, and today was not a very creative day. 😦 I did start the day with some writing while I ate breakfast, so I have accomplished my goal of doing something creative every day, but that was it. After breakfast, I picked up Mom from the service station where she brought her car, and the rest of the day was spent getting and learning smartphones. By the evening we were sitting in the same room working on our respective phones–trying to figure them out. We felt like the kids who chat with each other via text and computer while in the same room. (Yes, I’ve seen my nieces and nephews doing this.) Ah, yes, the twenty-first century intrudes on the time of the creative person. While I’m glad to have upgraded my phone, I will make a valiant attempt to turn it off regularly and interact with the people around me and create in the real world. In fact, I think I’ll pick up the blanket I’ve been crocheting and stitch a couple of rows before I go to bed.

What was your creative endeavor today? What are your plans for tomorrow?

Activate your creativity

This is the first summer I haven’t taught summer school, and I’m loving it! I decided to dedicate this summer to creativity. In July I said to myself that I would do something creative every day. I did pretty well, but I’ll do even better if I have to tell everyone about it! So, for August I again pledge myself to be creative in some way each and every day. Will you join me?

What’s your creative outlet? Or, like me, do you have too many to name? I write; I paint; I crochet; I sew; I bake; I play the flute. What do you do? I’ll tell you what I accomplish (or don’t–hopefully not too many days of this); you share with me what you do. I won’t necessarily finish a project each day–I’m sure I won’t actually. But, I’ll get those creative juices flowing.

By the way, I should tell you what I did today. It was a good day! I started by doing some writing while eating breakfast. I got past a sticking point in the story I’ve been working on for quite some time. (Disclaimer, I should note here that, perhaps because I have so many creative outlets, I’m pretty slow about finishing projects. I do continue to work on them though.) Then, I went to art class.  Charlie, my teacher, gave me some good pointers; I made progress! It was a good day.