Wether you have school, kids, cats, dogs, hamsters or are a lonely hermit in a shack on the Cliffs of Mohair life is hard in different ways. Then throw in our personalities with their unique neuroses, habits and quirks and it’s a wonder we do anything more than curl into a ball and hide under the covers let alone create beautiful art.
That being said last week Hurricane Irma roared up Florida to my little neck of the woods flattening trees and putting most of the state of Georgia without power. My house included. We weathered the twenty four hours without power easily enough and I’m thankful we got power back as quickly as we did considering there were people without power for a full week–and let’s not get started on Florida and the Caribbean Islands. No, I am very thankful indeed! Later that week I had to return to work with my girls in tow because daycare was closed but my work was open. Thankfully, I have a job and a boss that makes this easier but it was still mega stressful. Things didn’t go well at work, once we got back, and were hectic and just a mess.
Needless to say, I did not work on any of my creative endeavors unless you count fretting over the lost work days and looming deadlines for the Literary Festival I am producing but fretting is not really productive just agonizing so I tried to put it out of my mind and enjoy my family. There is always a part of me that hates a lack of work on my creative projects–I guess that may be called drive? Ambition? Anyways, my point is that life happens and you have to put aside the creative work sometimes to just live. And you can’t punish yourself for that.
I think a little of my stress and angst this past week was sort of a mental punishment for not “being creative enough”. Life is necessary. It informs us as artists and helps shape our art. This is a reminder to myself and to you that it’s ok to step away and take care of your house, kitties, car or children or whatever.
I give myself and everyone permission to not be productive all the time.
That is the only constant. And with that constant I have learned the art of adaptation as it pertains to myself and my creative works.
When I was younger I could spend hours of intense focus on reading, writing a story, a single piece of artwork. It made me so happy. As I grew older –through high school and into college beyond it became increasingly stressful to sit and work on something for longer than 30 minutes. Then I would get upset that I couldn’t work and finish things.
It wasn’t until I was long out of college that I began to realize that more frequent shorter bursts of working were not only more productive for me but more fulfilling. This worked well since my job and family demanded much more of my time and creative work came either early in the morning while I drank my coffee or at night for a very few short moments before I fell asleep (parenting is exhausting!) Now that I have recognized this as the most productive way to use my time I am constantly trying to improve this technique.
Art: mostly these short bursts come either during nap time or during my lunch breaks at work.
Writing: again Lunch breaks are the best writing time for me these days. However, recently I have embraced using my phone more. I know, we should be striving To be less on our phones but it’s just very easy to use–and I strive constantly for moderation. With my job I often find myself sitting places with not much space for much more than me and my phone so why not make use of it rather than playing the millionth level of Candy Fruit Crush Ninja. It has taken some getting used to but I’ve been pretty happy with the bits and pieces of writing I’ve gotten done.
This leads me to my actual point–yes, a point!
I’ve been most unhappy with my lack of reading time lately. When I was young I used to spend hours upon hours reading. Granted, we all have much more free time on our hands as children than adults–that I recognize. However, I knew if I could find spare moments to write and draw I could find spare moments to read.
At first I tried at night before bed and early in the morning. Both of those made me so sleepy I could only get in a page or two. So I have finally gone digital with -some- of my reading with a Kindle app on my phone. Most of my reading is still analog but in embracing the digital I get to experience a few moments here and there of stepping into another world.
I have many friends who do amazing things of all kinds. One thing they all pretty much do better at than me is reading. I don’t mean that in any sort of derogatory way to them or to myself. It is simply a fact.
I don’t have time to read much. Or to be honest, I feel guilty when I read–I feel like I should be doing something productive towards one of my other creative pursuits. It’s dumb I know, and I am working on it. As a writer I should be devouring books, but it just hasn’t been fun.
That being said I have made a goal for myself this year–a small one but a goal nonetheless!
I will read 10 nonfiction books and 2 fiction books this year, by golly! This goal is two fold. First, I can finish these darn fiction books I started forever ago! Second I can read some of my nonfiction books that have just been moldering away on my shelves for an embarrassingly long time! And another advantage to this is that I will feel like I am learning something a feeling I miss, since graduating college and very much enjoy.
Here’s to 2016! A year of rediscovering the joy of reading!
As I grew up and developed my talents reading fell a little by the way side–not that I don’t still enjoy it! I would just rather use my very precious free time to create things.
I love books. I love the ideas of them the styles the stories and I love that while I don’t always have time to read I have great bibliophile friends who keep me up to date about books.
Here are a few of my friends who have excellent pages about books.
Fig and Thistle has a wide range of reading topics in her library. Her love and enthusiasm for books of all kinds emanates from every post. She also does reading challenges–I am super envious! Inkstained Unicorn is my best friend from highschool. She sets the bar super high for reading and is awesome! She will be reading 10 books a month for 2016 and I hope to remember to share every months lists because a) she makes pretty pictures of her lists–nothing boring here! And b) I want to support her because I don’t have the time to do that.
I have several other friends who read but don’t have online sites currently. If they ever do I will totally share!