Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cheating on one love with another.

I feel guilty about it. I have two big loves in my life: art and writing. But lately, I’m spending way more time with art than I am with writing. I know, feeling guilty about not writing when I’m busy making pots and sculptures. It does seem ridiculous because they’re both ways to create. Right?

But. Oh don’t you just love that word?

It feels a little like I’m cheating on someone I love with someone else I love.


Introducing one love: Art.
My artist self loves throwing clay around on the wheel. Making bowls, mugs, vases and plates. She also loves that I’m back to hand building but she’s a little impatient because sculpture just doesn’t move fast enough at least not in comparison to the wheel. On the wheel, I can make 4 pieces in about 2 hours but hand building and especially sculpture can take days, weeks or months. On the wheel, the bowl either works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, I smoosh it up, throw on another mound of mud and move on. On the sculpture stand, a piece may be working or not. I don’t always know, even after years of practice. I might hate the piece and think it a total failure in process and love it later or love it now and hate it later. I’ve been known to throw a piece in the trash after months of work because, well, it just doesn’t work.

Introducing another love: Writing.

My writing self loves the flow of words from fingers to pen to paper. Writing my thoughts and feelings in a journal comes naturally to me. Words flow onto my blog just as easily. Sometimes she’s a little impatient that my fingers just don’t type fast enough. Sometimes she’s shy and really doesn’t want to write about what’s really going on. Sometimes, she sees something that she just has to get down on paper. My essays move on their own it seems, effortlessly they just appear. My novel just started one day, I don’t know where it came from just that I was supposed to type. Life circumstances got in the way for a few years, then, just when I thought it was time to end the relationship, it started up again. But, my writing self feels completely left behind lately. Oh, I write in my journal and on my blog, but the other writing has slowed to a stop. The collection of essays hasn’t been touched in months. The novel is waiting for me to create the bad character that the story needs to move on. I know what and who I need to write into the story, but I haven’t done it. The truth is that I don’t like antagonists and I don’t want to create one in my book. I want life to be good not evil. But all the great books I love to read have good and bad characters. In order to make my book work now and later, I have to be willing to make a mess in the lives of my dear characters. Or maybe it’s time to throw it in the trash. Either way, my writer is feeling stuck. To keep my writer happy, I take her to writing meetings, author talks and buy books. I read good books and even joined a book club but it’s not working. Now or later.

So, here I sit and sip my tea with my yellow lab, Jilly at my feet and type away at the keyboard. I’m writing. But my writer self sighs at me, wondering when I’m going to get serious.

Ah, well, maybe that’s a clue.

Because when my artist self gets serious and tries very hard to make a bowl or vase or sculpture work, it doesn’t. The clay wobbles off center or flops or cracks or gets smooshed up and thrown out. But my writer self holds onto every word and seriously worries whether it works or not. The essay and novel pages keep piling up in rows of neat computer file folders that sit waiting to be read, edited and, yes, maybe thrown out.

I see three things going on here.

One: Working very hard and being serious creates work that doesn’t work.
Two: Throwing out bad work leads to better work.
Three: I don’t like bad guys, so I don’t want to create one.

Ok. Before I go and smash all the pieces I don’t love and delete all my writing files in need of editing, I need to gather my artist and writer together and give them both a hug. I can love my creative self and all the creative ways in which it creates. What I really need to throw out here is my serious, trying too hard, pushy energy because that’s what’s really throwing me off center.

And my writer self knows it. She’s smiling right now, because she knows that I’m not writing because I’m having fun with clay. And it’s not that she’s jealous, she just wants to remind me to have the same kind of fun with writing. (And that, maybe, just maybe, writing a bad guy into my story might just be fun.) Now there’s a novel idea.

Ok. Now that line can be thrown out!

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