I woke up this morning with feelings usually reserved for Saturday. Light seeped into the room, the whole day stretched before me to fill with creative ventures, and I felt a sense of hope and freedom upon first opening my eyes.
After I made my first cup of coffee, I crawled back into bed and wrote my three Morning Pages. I was surprised to find in them an enthusiasm for my unfinished novel, as well as all sorts of ideas on how to overcome the emotional and logistical hurdles I face in finishing it. I haven’t talked about it in much detail here. Let’s just say that I have a good draft of a literary mystery novel; in fact, it served as my creative thesis last year. Now it needs to become a polished, finished manuscript. It’s not the plot that evades me but my protagonist, who I should know like a best friend. Slowly, with the help of others and the unfortunate, but necessary passing of time, I have a better sense of what steps I need to take…not just to overcome the hurdles, but to enjoy the process again. Once I’m out of bed, I think I will head to my whiteboard in the blue room, erase everything on there, and just have fun exploring some of these solutions. There’s nothing quite like a whiteboard covered in furtive writing and arrows and quick notes to make me feel like I’m back in the thick of it.
After writing my Morning Pages I took some time to read, as I often do, returning to Daily Rituals, finally reading the Introduction (which you’d think I’d have read first, but I’m often backwards in my reading). So much of what Currey talks about speaks directly to what I’m struggling with and attempting to address with this blog.
My underlying concerns in the book are issues that I struggle with in my own life: How do you do meaningful creative work while also earning a living? Is it better to devote yourself wholly to a project or to set aside a small portion of each day?
I know that practically every artist (unless independently wealthy) wrestles with these questions, but I couldn’t help feeling like Currey wrote the book just for me! I also discovered that he originally explored the answers to these questions through a blog, Daily Routines, where he’d post descriptions of the greats’ routines as he came across them, in biographies or articles. (The story of how the blog comes about is an anecdote of procrastination that most writers can relate to). In fact, the more I read the introduction the more I realized that I want to contact Mason Currey. I like to do this when I find an artist with whom I connect. It’s not about pushing my work on them or receiving a response back; it’s about reaching out and saying, “Thank you. Your hard work, creativity, and bearing of your soul made a difference in my life today. Your unique ideas expanded my world in some way, and I’m grateful.” Those aren’t the exact words I write but they’re the underlying sentiment. I’ve mentioned how artists need each other…we need to always take time to express our appreciation for one another, this is part of what keeps us going. I’ve had it on my list to write a few other people and haven’t made the time yet to compose thoughtful correspondence. I think I’ll do a bit of that today. By recognizing them, it nurtures my own creative spirit and makes me feel less alone.
Also, someone kindly gave me a draft of their novel to read. This is a great honor and responsibility. I had put off starting it until I felt totally up for the task. As the book is an homage to Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, (which I want to simultaneously listen to read aloud by the incomparable Richard Burton) I felt compelled to wait until the darkening days of fall. I also wanted to wait until I felt my own creative spirit quieted and settled enough to properly focus on someone else’s work and give it the attention and feedback it deserves. Fall is here and I think this blog has helped right my creative spirit enough that I’m now the proper audience for someone else’s beloved novel.
So, I’m about to make my second cup of coffee, grab a croissant, and get started on all of the above and bit more. Today is not about trying to be a writer; I am a writer. I’m writing, reading, corresponding…I’m in my element. I can’t help but wonder if this is what every day would feel like if I didn’t have a “day job” or have the most productive hours of my creativity and energy poured into tasks so far from my heart? But I can’t think about that…I just have to be grateful for the day I have now.
I’ll end with a quote that I read this morning in The Artist’s Way and speaks to that hope and enthusiasm I feel this morning:
No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen.
~ Minor White