Monday, February 09, 2009

Flying Girl Where the Wild Things Bloom, or Nature Deep

Flying Girl Where the Wild Things Bloom, or Nature Deep
Golden Fluid Acrylics, Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens, White Gel pen

Movement never stops, in life. I think we're like sharks. Swim or die. However, sometimes life seems to be flowing by so fast, we don't really get to go deep into the places we need to go.

I've been thinking about the Fifth secret in the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women. This week in the book club, it's "Committing to Self Focus." As I was reading the chapter, I was thinking how this really wasn't my struggle... the feeling that art was selfish (or if it was once, I've gotten over it). The feeling that I need to take care of my duties as a woman and a social being first before I turn to my art. Maybe it's because I'm kind of a hermit. Maybe it's the luck of being born into a family of artists who always supported my artistic leaning (not always other things, but art was always supported). I have made peace (mostly) with sacrificing my housekeeping and using PBS as a babysitter when need be. I have let go of being that perfect super mom so that I could be the best me, the best artist I can be.

But then, as I got farther in to the book, I began see some resonance. McMeekin mentions "the need for mothers to find blocks of time to create," espoused in another book, and I can see that is true for me. Unfortunately the other book (A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood, by Judith Pierce Rosenberg) also "advises young women to establish their careers before they embark on having children," which really doesn't help me now, does it? If I could go back in time, I might have put more pressure on myself to get my career going, not realizing the struggle it would be when I had less freedom as a mother. But I can't, and here I am now. So I need to make now as productive as I can. I need to make it work for me.

Yes, I am working a lot. I paint and I write and I take photographs and blog and cook and raise my children and all of that, but I don't really work that deep. I don't have those blocks of time to really sculpt my work. I go on instinct and my subconscious and the many years of practice I have put into writing and art. It's those years that allow me to sit down and whip out 1200 words of new writing in an hour, or a painting while watching tv. Years of just diving in and being there. If I was unable to work so fast, I don't know if I would be working at all, to tell the truth.

I'm finding a difficulty now as I start revising parts of my novel that are already written. I don't have the space in my mind to be able to get the larger picture. I can do little bits at a time, but I don't feel like I am getting myself deep into the work.

Maybe that's where my anxiety is coming from right now. I could say, "oh this is just the ebb and flow of creativity." I could allow myself to not write, but I know what happens when I do that. I stop writing. It is the practice of showing up for the work that keeps the work going. I need to keep writing.

Maybe the anxiety is necessary. Maybe in order to get to where I want to go with my novel, I need to feel uncomfortable. Maybe I need to ask for support from those around me. (Yes, they have always supported me, but as an adult, I have to ask for that support for them to give it to me. And I hate asking for help.) Maybe I need to ask for my mom and/or step dad to take the kids one or two days a week so I can really get going.

You know, I think being uncomfortable is often necessary to art. It doesn't mean that you have to create work that is "cutting edge" or uncomfortable or shocking, but it does mean that you have to push the edge in yourself. Push the comfort. Get out of the ease and steady every day patterns of thinking. Open doors that you are afraid of. Stand up when you'd rather sit down and hide. Stop and face the things that you have been running away from all your life.

Just like this Flying Girl, I feel like I am right on the outside of that forest of deep work. It looks scary and weird, and it looks like I might never get out if I get caught up in those dark brambles, but I am convinced that inside of that darkness is the true place. I am trying to figure out what I need to do to get where I belong. I may need to go at it in an oblique way, because I have been resisting this push.

And it is also interesting that this painting was inspired by the Sweet Treat Thursday prompt, and yet it dovetailed right into the 12 Secrets chapter for me. Maybe I wouldn't gone away with the meaning that I did if I did not have the two different ideas swimming in my head. I think it was Orson Scott Card who said all of his novels started not with one idea, but with two unrelated ideas that then set up a resonance. Interesting.

And just so you know, folks, this deepness I am talking about, isn't really about the content of the work for me. I'm okay with that depth. It's more about taking things to the end and bringing them out again. This is my darkness, my fear. Finishing. Showing. Selling. Publishing.

What is your fear? When you think about deep work, what are you afraid of facing? What stops you in your tracks? How do you think you can get past those brambles?


Genie Sea said...

I am about to give unsolicited advice. It has been my experience that it is better to work through the whole novel, to the end without revising. Revision muddies things and stalls. I know this from experience. Let the initial vision flow, and you can edit after.

I sincerely hope this has been helpful :)

Rowena said...

Oh Genie, babe. I agree with you, but I've finished my first draft to the end, (three years ago) and I finished the first draft of the sequel to the end. And I got a lot out of writing both books before revising.

Now it's time to go down and nail down book one. Shape it up, ship shape. Make it real, and all that.

Jessie said...

"Just like this Flying Girl, I feel like I am right on the outside of that forest of deep work. It looks scary and weird, and it looks like I might never get out if I get caught up in those dark brambles, but I am convinced that inside of that darkness is the true place. I am trying to figure out what I need to do to get where I belong. I may need to go at it in an oblique way, because I have been resisting this push."

Oh girl...those are some beautifully written words. I can imagine that space, I can feel that space so perfectly. Those brambles, for me, consist of a mountain of canvases and not enough time....but those are just the brambles. once i take my first step in, i take the next step and the next step and the next step and, in this way, the work will get done....but not until i actually step into it.

there is an area in the woods across the street from my house where it is very overgrown and brambly....and yet, in the summer, i am always drawn to that place. there are secrets there. a sidewalk that was overgrown with wildness many, many years ago, the foundation of a house that is no longer there, a rock wall that is barely visible through the overgrowth. when i go there i have to walk bent over along deer trails. the shrubs snag my shirt and make it difficult to get anywhere. but then, right in the middle of it, there is a is a circle of brambly shrubs that are entwined with each other, but in the middle of all of it is a clearing. that is the deep place. the secret place. the magic place. it is difficult to get there, but such an utter surprise and perfect treat to find it. no matter how many times i've visited that spot, i always have to look for it and, every single time, it takes my breath away when i do.

mapelba said...

Oh, that sense of being deep into one's work... how does one get there?

My fear? Well, if I'm honest, that all this work, all this asking my family to make sacrifices, I'm going to reach the best of my ability and it won't be good enough. Yes, I know the arguments against that kind of thinking, but there it is.

Or my worst fear--dying too soon like my mother. Sure, maybe dying is always too soon, but there is a difference between 45 and 85.

My mother worked hard and had great talent...

But it doesn't do to dwell on these things. Maybe that's why I can't get deep into the work.

Emme said...

Well, first of all, I just want to say I would totally buy that painting! I love it. And, I'm right there with ya on the creating with kids thing. Yeah, not much help there, when you are ALREADY in the thick of motherhood. My biggest fear is the whole can I still be a good mom and commit to my dreams thing? Will I just get everyone all worked up and sacrificing for me and then totally flop. I'm just trying for babysteps right now, so I don't get too scared and just give up. I'd love to hear more about your actual routine. I have a hard time figuring out the time to just sit down and get to the writing. Except for snippets late at night, like right now, for instance!

Rowena said...

My routine?

7/8 wake up, get everyone dressed and fed.

9/10-11ish turn on PBS and let kids watch Sid the Science kid while I check email, blogs, twitter, etsy, or whatever I need to with kids, try to get as much computer work while they are busy doing whatever. yesterday I worked on getting a business card going, but usually it's less productive.

11-12 get kids lunch, keep doing computer/blog stuff, may be even post.

12-1 get kids to nap.

1ish do a photo shoot on the porch of whatever I painted the night before.

1-2 upload. post. oh yeah. eat.

2-3/4 [here is where I should write my novel but I have been skipping it and/or running out of time]

3-5play w kids. make dinner.

5-6eat dinner, check blogs/email/whatever.

6-7/8 bedtime routine

around 7:30-8 some computer, tv time, snacks for me, unwind, maybe some pick up

9or so-11/1 start painting, usually while watching tv or movies.

11-1 get anxious about everything I haven't done and what I should be doing and stay up way to late doing this and that and hoping to tire out my insomnia. this could be short or long depending upon level of anxiety and/or insomnia.

11-2 read in bed before passing out. could be 15 minutes, could be 2 or 3 hours.

Note there is a shocking lack of housework and social activities. Also note, the tv is used as a babysitter.

Emme said...

Thanks for posting this Rowena! :) Is it bad that it makes me feel better to see that our routine is basically the same? Hope you have a blessed day today. :)

Anonymous said...

can y ou move the novel up to the front of the day ? or write once they are in bed? one student does most of her own time stuff 11-1am -she seems ok on lack of sleep!


Rowena said...

Mary, I can't do it in the morning, because the kids wake me up, and while their father is away for work, I am on duty from moment one. I say I'm too tired at night to work, but I've had the experience that if I sit in bed with my laptop I can whip out 1200 words in a sitting. So I could just be putting blocks in my way.

emme, no it's not bad.

marta, I am afraid I am wasting my time, too. but even if we don't "Get" anywhere, we'll still have had the experience of being writers and artists, right? And that is worth it on its own. right? And as for the dying young... what can we do? Nothing. So better not to worry about it.

and Jessie? Lawsy! I love what you wrote. Brilliant. And yes, that's the place. Right there.

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