Ugh. Do you ever write a blog post and then delete it? I want to delete my previous post because it’s so perky and “can-do,” and I’ve been in a creative slump ever since publishing it.
Yesterday, I ran into a friend at the grocery store. She’s an accomplished writer, and she asked me how creative work was going. I dove straight to the truth, “Awful. I’ve been in a slump for at least a week.”
She smiled, nodded, totally related, and we commiserated in the produce section, laughing about how we pour our creative mind into everything else, my neatly-lettered grocery list that I’d drafted once and then re-written, for example.
“You could write about the slump,” she suggested. And I’d wanted to, but I didn’t want to sound like I was whining or asking you all to feel sorry for me. At the same time, I don’t want to be all sunshine and roses when there are days, occasionally weeks, of drought and malaise.
I’m not sure what these slumps are. They surprise me every time. Just a sudden arrival of … hmmm, what is it? Self doubt? Resistance? Fear? Easier just not to do any of this kind of feeling, but then I end up doing laundry and stacking everything by color and shape … sculptures of underwear piled on top of the dryer. Then I think, “That would be fun to draw,” and then that idea feels totally laborious and exhausting, so I go back to folding laundry.
I suppose this is part of the creative process? It’s just so much easier to keep all my ideas in my head where they are perfect … perfect because they’re not concrete but rotating and changing as my ideas shift.
This first storybook, for example, has taken a lot of work and time, which I don’t mind at all, but it’s also showing me just how much more I have to learn and do just for this one little book. I guess doubt sets in (“Is it worth it?”) to protect me from the hard work that is not guaranteed to be a success.
Geez. Is it really about success and failure? It’s not like my creative ideas result in anything huge whether they succeed or fail — no one’s lives get damaged or saved, so why is the idea of failure so insidious and ever-present? Or, is it something else? I truly don’t know, but typing this makes me feel more confident that I will eventually push through this and get back to work more cheerfully.
Ironically, as I’ve been in a dreary fog, a blogger I met through the April A-to-Z Challenge nominated me for an award. I’ve felt too “blah” to post it here, a little embarrassed. But I know if I’d nominated someone, and they’d ignored it, I’d feel badly, so I’ll end this post all “sunshine and roses”:
Solveig nominated me as well as Lrod, Ula at Confessions of a Broccoli Addict, S.D. Gates, and Christina at the Wordy Rose for this award, and I am supposed to answer a few questions. Thank you Solveig for thinking of me and being such an encouraging reader of my blog!
1. As a child what did you want to become? A writer. Always a writer. And I wanted to draw, but I didn’t know what to call it. “Artist” didn’t sound right at the time, and I didn’t know what an “illustrator” was. So: writer and drawer.
2. What piece of your own writing are you most proud of? Ummmm…. Okay, honestly, maybe a personal essay about my cousin starting college in his late 40s after his mom (my aunt) died. This was ages ago, but it was published in a national journal about teaching, and I am so happy his struggles might have served to inspire someone else. He did not finish school and died not too many years later. I’m glad to have captured a portrait of him during a moment of aspiration and determination, even though he was terrified. (It’s still available in ERIC or ProQuest, to my surprise! Nouns and Verbs: Feeling the Love.)
3. If you were an animal what would you be, and why? A sea turtle or tortoise. I aspire to their “slow-but-steady” progress, calm demeanor, and long-long-long lives.
4. If you were stranded on a lonely island (there will be food and drink there) what/who would you take with you (3 things at the most)? Easy: husband, son, and books.
5. Is there some advice that you would like to share? Ummm, ummm, ummm. I’m totally stuck here. How, about this — you lovely readers can post advice if you’d like, about anything, but especially about your creative lives (whether it’s crocheting sweaters, arranging flower bulbs “just so” in your planter boxes, or performance art–how do you do it??).