All morning I’ve been procrastinating. I should be writing. I know it. I want it. But for some reason, I don’t do it! I was crocheting, grooming the cat, making myself a smoothie, Facebooking, and watching TV. Not very productive. Well, except for the crocheting and grooming the cat, he needed it and mostly enjoyed it. Looking around the apartment, I also saw a million things that needed to be done, so I did what any self-respecting writer should do in a time like this; I ran away.

Okay, so I only walked up the block to the new Bean & Bean Coffee Roasters that opened on the corner, but it’s out of the house. I haven’t been here before, but I like the ambiance right away; not too loud, nor too quiet. I may have to rethink my seat as by the window on this sunny day may be too bright, but so far, all is good. Now I have a latte, my Chromebook, my notebook, and I’m good to go. If I get a good amount written in the next two hours, I may treat myself to a beer before I go. Who knew that Bean & Bean serves beer and wine too! (Then again, I probably won’t. I want to go to the gym later. Can you go to the gym after a beer?)

Wish me luck in working the story on the docket today. I hope you each have found yourself a good space to work as well.



Solitary, Solitude, Solitaire

Today’s creativity musings revolve around the idea of being alone. Much of the time creativity is a solitary practice. We write by ourselves, often paint by ourselves, frequently sew by ourselves, practice instruments by ourselves. Yet the finished products are released to a wider world. It’s a strange dichotomy, isn’t it. We work in solitude. We are alone in our rooms, studios, at our desks–or we convince ourselves that we are out in the world by writing in bars and coffee shops, but ultimately, the work is done alone. 

However, in that first solitary stage, we are not really alone are we? We writers are surrounded by our characters. We inhabit their world with them and let them tell us where they want to go next. They become real to us. Sometimes they hijack the story. We begin writing with one thing in mind, but frequently, a character’s voice becomes too loud to ignore, or less frequently too soft to hear. I’ve had a minor character fight with me to be the big dog. And he’s won. I’m sure it’s the same for many of you. Diana Gabaldon author of the Outlander series said that the book became a time travel novel because Claire kept saying things that didn’t fit 1793 Scotland. She had to come from somewhere/when else. These characters we create are all around us whether we’re sitting at the keyboard, swishing on the elliptical machine, or even interacting with other “real” people at a cocktail party. This solitary pursuit, this time in solitude is peopled with our own creations and they follow us into the world at large.

I’d say the feeling is similar for the visual artist. Paintings may not necessarily be peopled, unless one is working on a portrait, but the concentration, the consumption the artist feels for the form, the hue, the darks and lights surrounds him/her even when the studio is empty of other humans. And frequently I find that on my best painting days, I “get in the zone” and the other people in the studio seem to disappear–even if just for a few minutes. That solitude in the midst of others occurs when one is most connected to one’s art. 

How about the musician? The scales and arpeggios are a solitary pursuit. Practicing a piece takes place alone in a room. I’ve sung with a choir that has brought in soloists for certain parts, and the first time all the soloists, choir, and musicians appeared together has been the dress rehearsal. Even in the choir, we would each practice our parts at home in addition to the once a week rehearsals. Yet even in our individual rehearsals we can connect with the music and the singers/musicians we will eventually join, not to mention the artists who have performed the piece in the past.

Eventually, however, the solitude is not enough. Eventually, the art must become public. We must join the other voices; we must let our “children” out into the world and hope for the best for them and for us. There will be praise; there will be critique. But eventually, there must be a sharing.

And what about solitaire? That’s an addiction that keeps us away from our solitary family! 🙂

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.