Saturday, August 29, 2009

Creative Nurturing

There's some stuff in the office fridge that has reached the "Do Not Feed After Midnight" and "Do Not Get Wet" stage. You know the species. The kind that turns green, sprouts arms, yells "Feed me, Seymour!", and shrinks away from the tiny yellow bulb in the upper right corner. The kind that runs and hides on trash day. Every trash day. For a year.

If you love writing, or painting, or singing, or whatever art form calls to you and you're not out there, doing it, as often as possible, you'd better prepare for the aforementioned monster. This beast lays the guilt on thick, ruining your art-free day, accidentally trampling on your self-esteem with its raging. You think, "I'm not cut out for this; I'm never going to be an artist, so I should just give up!" and the nudge persists, changing from gentle urging in clear, plaintive tones to insistent, constant nagging. And raging! Oh the raging...Stifling headache? Let the creativity free!

You give in.

The muse-turned-uncouth-monster can react in many ways.

1. The Binge. A tumultuous session of art-binging is satisfying but unsustainable. This practice creates a vicious cycle. You will be blissful on the days you give yourself up to the art - and yelling at yourself for the rest of them. Pace yourself.

2. The Dance. This is the not-quite-what-I-want sequence of steps. You prance around what you really want to do with everything and anything but that to which you must eventually succumb. Avoid the inevitable. Don't let your muse samba alone.

3. The Chair. Like a pro-wrestling smackdown, a man's soap opera, you take the ring and assail yourself with a round of hurt - berating yourself for ever wanting to give art the time of day. Ever. Beating it with the folding chair, into submission, until it's quieter than a mouse nomming on the ceiling tiles and attic insulation. And just like in wrestling - that move will come back to bite you.

4. The Pretender. You decide (*snort* You decide? Your muse totally decided for you, silly human...) that you're going to give art another chance. Your muse believes you as you sit down to work and promptly stuff her in a pretty genie bottle, mosaic glass. You quickly reverse your position and abandon the art in Perfect Storm splendor. That bottle won't hold the muse-monster for long. Whiplash hurts. Brain whiplash is twice as bad.

5. The Leaf-On-The-Wind. You display a rare patience with that creative creature that threatens to eat the right half of your brain. Repetition, contemplation, dabbling in the medium of your choice - your real desire - calms the storm between your ears. You recognize peace, but soon allow yourself to be swept away by some newfangled thing that promises you even more happiness. Don't listen to the anti-creativity temptress. The crash landing can be disastrous. Muses can't die. Not really, not forever. But they can take an inordinate amount of time to recover - and it itches.

I am and have been guilty of each and every one of these offenses against the muse, but I am lucky enough to be once again back on track with music and writing to fuel my journey. (And also a brain. Brains are vital to this process.)

Daily cultivating of your imagination garden, your art song, is the only way to sooth the agony of artlessness. Creative nurturing tames the soul.

1 comment:

Darlene C. Goodman said...

I'm an art binger. My muse gets me all excited and we produce a lot all at once, then we lose momentum and other things seem to become so much more important.