Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Letting It Rest: A Metaphor for A Creative Process

Photo from the porch, via poladroid.

I've been trying to take photos of all the pretty snow around me, but they never come out as nice as they are in real life. Even as nice as they are in my head. The things that I SEE are off hidden in the distance, behind trees or faded by time. They don't show up in the photo the way I want them too.

I've been looking at my wardrobe and feeling uninspired. Tired of sweaters and jeans and layers to keep me from shivering. Of dressing for staying at home and chasing after kids.

I've been dissatisfied with my book choices, as my library is back in storage and the books that I do have at my fingertips are often too stupid to keep me from throwing them across the room before I run over, pick them up and start reading them again.

Once upon a time, I was reading Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins, and in it, someone tells a character that making art is just the act of creating a thing you really want to see in the world, because it doesn't exist yet. That's not an exact quote, but that's because I haven't read the book in ages and don't have the book now, but I do remember the idea.

This is art.

Think about what should be in the world, what you want to see, what you would love if it were to exist, then find a way to make it exist.

I've been looking around the web at artists and writers, novelists and designers, photographers and philosophers, cooks and decorators and teachers and dreamers all those lovely people who make things exist because they want to see something lovely, something meaningful that isn't quite there yet.

That's when I start feeling the urge to paint. Or to rip apart my old clothes and rearrange them into something newer and lovelier. Or to make soup from scratch. Or to make an altar in the corner of my room dedicated to creating beauty. Or to keep working on that novel of mine, because it DOESN'T make me want to throw it across the room, but makes me want to read the next chapter.

And yet... sometimes those urges have to sit a time. They have to sit in a big oiled bowl covered with a dishcloth, and grow like bread raising, breathing and multiplying until they are big enough and strong enough to exist in the real world. Growing in richness and depth and texture, filling with air, gaining connections.

And sometimes I have to take out the dough and punch it and knead it and roll it and get it into shape. Sometimes I need to preheat that oven and prepare those pans. Sketch out those ideas. Make my plans. Get my supplies ready.

Maybe that's the balance between just letting ourselves be with all our imperfections, and driving ourselves mad with our drive to be productive.

Maybe we have to prepare the way for our work to exist, for ourselves to be happy and our best selves. And then we have to sit back and trust the natural process. Allow ourselves to rest, allow our ideas to grow, allow life to happen around us, while we are preparing the ground for our dreams, and our art to exist.

1 comment:

Genie Sea said...

A perfect metaphor for the process. I know the feeling well, that gnawing guilt that we aren't productive enough, if were not creative 24/7. It's good to release the process into it's self-rising hands and make sure we rest too. The oven can't be on all the time. :)

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