Sometimes I wish I had more talent in drawing or sculpting or even in knitting. I am terrible at following patterns and even after many attempts, I am hopeless at socks. Turning heels? I just don’t get it. And worse than that I am reluctant to take the time to either figure it out or have someone more knowledgeable explain it to me. I dig in my heels.
But writing writing writing all the time…
The act of writing already takes a scary amount of focus. I don’t know about you but I become a little obsessive. All I think about is the book I am working on. And for the most part it is a lovely feeling. Like being naked and fully submerged in warm waters, cradled by the movement of the waves. You don’t even realize you haven’t taken a breath for hours, until someone (usually it’s one of my children or someone at the door or on the phone) pulls you up by your hair. I love living in my books.
But I do think it might be a good idea to do something else as well. Something creative. Find another outlet for when writing is not going well, or feeling a little stale. A way to recharge, look at things in a different creative way, project outward rather than inward.
We certainly need distractions in our lives. It can’t all be mental. If there was no actual life being lived (from the mediocre to the sublime) we’d have nothing to write about. And if we didn’t interact with normal everyday people we’d run out of characters. I only have so many facets of my own personality to draw on.;)
I used to paint. I was never very good but I had ideas. Now I would take it up again but I feel as if I’ve used up all my ideas in my books.
I knit. But there’s a limit to how many mittens, hats, baby clothes, smallish sweaters, and scarves I want to make. Plus I can only knit in the winter (and although it is hanging on like a very scared cat), winter is almost done for the year.
I take photos. And it’s something I enjoy a lot. I’m an observer by nature in any case. I like to look and notice and admire and marvel. I trip over my feet, my nose skyward or grazing the ground. There are striped caterpillars on the trail right now, making their ponderous way along the leftover ice and in imminent danger of being stepped on. I pick each up and move it to someplace safe. Surely another sign of spring?
There is something that feels like cheating with digital cameras though. I am certainly capable of taking a bad picture (many bad pictures) but I can just delete it on the spot. I can focus in a heartbeat. I can enhance and brighten and sharpen and frame it in the blink of an eye and I can toss the ones that cannot be saved with effects into my virtual trashcan. It’s so easy. Not like writing at all. Or using an old Nikon and inhaling toxic fumes in the darkroom.
Or working with oil paints.(I used to suck on the end of my brush which no doubt caused all kinds of interesting changes in my brain).
There is no danger or risk in it. It feels almost temporary. Check out Instagram. There are a lot of people taking some damn good photographs. When you’re inundated with so much that is above average good, it starts to blend together. It loses the punch. You think, well MyopicOwl sure knows her way around the camera, but does it make you want to keep looking or do you think, “well I’m done now” and file the information away with all the other information we collect during the day.
Or maybe I am only capable of taking perfectly good, average photos, that move with the herd but don’t poke their heads up often.
I want to do something that matters as much to me as writing does. That I will work hard at. That will fill my life with something meaningful when I need some breathing space.
But maybe writing fills all but a tiny space, and maybe I need that space, merely to slow down and breathe. And flood my eyes and senses with everything else that is in the world. Perhaps that is living artfully and it is enough.