I have a long love affair with books. With stories. With words. Longer even than my love affair with drawing, but only by a year or two.
My husband knows about this affair. How can he not? He helped me pack 55 boxes of books last time we moved. The back wall of our suite is all shelves of books, two rows deep. I’ve probably added three more boxes since we moved in two years ago. That makes the current total 58.
This love affair, in other eyes, looks like an obsession. Or maybe a difficulty with hoarding.
Only someone who does not love books would think that.
My parents read to me when I was two years old. A story before bedtime. Thus begins the love affair and my book collection.
Tomorrow is the US Presidential Inauguration. I am having a hard time believing that Donald Trump is becoming the US President, that he was voted in. And yet, it is so. What concerns me most? The divisive way he sees and talks gives others permission to do the same, to pit group against group, to use anger and hatred as the path to what they desire.
I say to this–I Am A Contrary!
I am a contrary. Much of the society and material world I live in tries to tell me all is divided, labelled, specified, separate. It tries to say I am separate from you, from the water I drink, from Raven chuckling in the fir outside my window, from the ground I walk on, from the smooth grey stone I hold in my hand.
Not so. I see, I know, I feel all life, this world, everything as one whole being, one energy, constantly connected, breathing one breath, all flow.
I am a contrary. The material world tries to teach me to see only polarities, black and white, either-or.
But I see pattern, illumination, both-and. I see richness and range. As a child growing up and as an adult living in an either-or world, I remain knowing I am the stars, the sky, the earth water wind, the grey stone, Raven, the fir tree. I am you. I am and we are, both-and.
I am glad I am a contrary. Because of this, I know all is one. I get to see the one whole beauty underneath all of the pieces of this divided material world. I get to see the beauty and the heart living within each person I meet.
I get to see the hearts each of us carries. I don’t just mean the unique shining heart each of us is. I mean every one of us is covered with hearts, all sizes and every colour, one pinned onto us by each person who loves us. We move through life covered, carried, loved, connected by all these hearts.
It is blazing sun outside my studio window today. The thermometer says -10 Celsius. Even with the brilliant sunlight, I do not go out without doing up my coat all the way to my chin, and adding hat and mittens and snow boots.
Contrast and preparation. Like the weather, that’s what is happening in my studio today.
Here is the contrast. I want to be playing with my book draft, but there are other needs today. What I call ‘administration’. I am frustrated. I want to be doing one thing, and need to be doing another. Ugh. Contrast.
And here is the preparation. I have to do the administration in order to smooth the path for my writing and drawing to get out into the world to be shared.
The preparation part of my creative life is the time and effort spent on meetings, questions and answers, contracts, proposals, emails and phone calls. I try to like this part but, honestly, today I don’t. Even though these things are a necessary part of the path, I’d rather be writing or drawing. Today the administration feels like it is in my way and it’s pissing me off.
I have tried to readjust my attitude. My adjustment dial appears to be momentarily stuck.
I know this would be easier if I wasn’t so growly today.
How do I solve this?
I write my morning pages, asking myself this question. I don’t get an answer. Rats. Now I’m writing my blog post, asking again, hoping for a solution and a settling of my pissed-off-ness. Nope, not yet.
All the intense, warp speed creating I did through November was fun and fulfilling, and it did me in. I needed a rest. So I rested.
Now I’m back. My well of inspiration is full again, to the brim and bubbling over. (Watch out. You might get splashed!) I am itching to get creating again. Writing stuff. Drawing stuff. Making stuff.
I am in a New Year. Possibilities abound.
Yesterday I made myself a list, ‘Stuff I’m Doing’, and posted it beside my studio work table. I used sheets of paper from my sketchbook and my set of fifty Crayola felt pens. My list covers the first six months of this year, and has lots of room for additions, alterations, and addendums. Even my lists are drafts.
At the top of the list is the second draft of my book. I have been struggling with this for more than a year. The main problem—no clarity on how my book needs to be structured.
Structure did not matter while writing the first draft. Now it does, and it has had me baffled.
I was thinking of my book structure as written in stone. I have to get it right. Totally scared myself, saying I have to get it right. Stopped me for all of last year. That is sad.
Actually, I don’t have to get it right. I have to get it down on the page. This is exactly what I tell myself when I am writing content. I don’t have to get it right. Just get the words down and then I can change them.
I am now treating my book structure like I treat my content. It’s a draft, a work in progress that is allowed to shift to meet the needs of the book as I create it.
What a relief! This feels so much better. I have space to play with my book’s structure. Get it sort of right. Get it wrong. Get it eventually right.
Why didn’t I think of this earlier? Probably because I have never moved past first draft in a piece of book-length writing. No experience at this. A total newbie.
So here I am. A New Year. New ideas and space to play. I am closing my first week of January 2017 by meeting with two of my artist-writer friends. Tomorrow we are having lunch together. We’ve promised to bring writing (two of us) and paintings (one of us) to share and receive help. The best way of all to begin my year. Sharing creativity with friends.
Happy New Year, All! Let us give ourselves full permission to play, and space to create what we love, through love, all year long.
Now go make something.
Thank you, Meg Ward, for your listening ear and sage advice in getting me started again on my second draft. Meg has an info page at http://www.shareyourbigidea.com/