When the Tide Goes Out
Ok… this summer lull seems to be a trend. I looked back at posts from summers past and I always land in a slump by mid to late summer. Why is that? Does the heat get to me? I know I am not a hot house flower; I much prefer the cool of autumn. But I had no idea my muse was fickle in the heat!
Wallowing in the Ebb
As many of you have realized, I have been in a bit of a creative slump.
I took the last week of August off from my job and had such grand plans! I was going to write every day, work on my manuscript submissions and crank out some query letters, schedule a bunch of blog posts for this month, read, start working out, eat healthy, play piano and violin, and just marinate in creative juices. Ten whole days with nowhere to be except an appointment to drop off and pick up a cat for surgery at the vet, and an appointment for me to get a much-needed massage. Otherwise, the world was my oyster and I was going to squeeze each day for all it was worth!
I didn’t do any of those things. Nothing got written, submitted, queried, blogged. No muscles got sculpted, no sweat got broken, very little health-magazine worthy meals were plated. No ivories got tinkled and no strings got bowed.
Yes, my cat had her long awaited surgery to remove a tumor from her head. (She is recovering very well, and the biopsy results came back benign.) Yes, I had that much needed massage. But all those other things? Nope. Well, I did read. A lot. And nap. Yes, I can say that I think I set a record for myself in that I actually managed to nap for 90 minutes for ten days straight. (I was a little worried about how I was going to get through and 8 hour day at the office that first day back.)
And that was pretty much all I did, except feel guilty about not doing any of the things I had thought I would or should do. Guilt is a very big thing for me. I am really good at it. 🙂
My friends, when they heard of my naps and lounging, were envious, and perhaps a little incredulous. How does someone go about clearing their life so they can actually relax in the truest sense of the word for ten days straight. What about errands and obligations? I did some errands – a stop at Target early in the week, grocery shopping – but that was it. Chores? Yes, when you have six cats and a home, there are always chores – feeding and scooping and vacuuming – and I didn’t let that go by the wayside.
But for the vast majority of my ten day stretch, I lounged.
I have given a lot of thought to why this should make me feel guilty. We live in a society where busy wins every time. Everyone is busy and it seems people are always trying to win the prize for the being the busiest. Personally, I hate it when my life gets so busy. I am a person who needs time to just veg out a bit. Maybe ten days is a little excessive, but then again, maybe my body and brain really needed the down time.
As creatives, we are always hearing about going with the flow. Maybe we need to also learn to wallow in the ebb. Creativity is tidal in nature. Some days the creative waters rise and fill us, and other times we are left with the small puddles left in the wake of the receding creative tide. I think we spend far too much time worrying and fretting through these ebbs. Will the tide come back? Will I ever write again? What if I can’t think of any other ideas?
Some writers (and other artists, I am sure) extoll the importance of showing up every single day and sitting with your tools – blank page, blank canvas, piano, whatever- and waiting for the muse to show. They claim that if we are not there, the muse will never find us. I really hope that isn’t true. I go in spurts. I have never managed to find that hour each day to show up and stare at the screen til something comes. Some weeks I am full of words and cannot wait to get to my notebook or laptop to let them spill. Other days, I feel like my creative mind is a wasteland, dry and dusty and desperate. Sometimes I cannot find a minute to breathe, let alone write. So if the muse will only show up if I consistently show up on a regular schedule. I may be in a heap of trouble.
Maybe I need to read more SARK, who is very much a proponent of napping as a creative tool. 🙂
I think it is as important for us to learn to not panic during the low times. Panic leads to that all or nothing thinking that will stop you in your creative tracks. If I don’t write every day, I can’t write at all. I am not a writer.
I would rather think of the low times where nothing creative seems to be happening in my life as times when my muses are gearing up for something bigger than I could hope for. Isn’t that a lot more uplifting? Instead of thinking I am worthless and will never accomplish my creative dreams, I find myself hopeful. I know this lull will pass and then look out, world! My muses are making plans!