Years ago, way back in the dark ages of raising young boys, I did a lot of scrapbooking. Like, a lot. It was my hobby of choice and I loved it. Still do, I just don’t have the time and space I once did to indulge, plus I vowed not to spend another cent on it until I organized the digital vortex that is my Photos app. As there are currently north of 40,000 images waiting to be sorted, it’ll be awhile before I return to recording our memories. And don’t tell me the app does the sorting, something hitched a ride on the whackadoodle train and it’s a freaking disaster.
Twice a year I would go up to Winter Park, Colorado with a handful of girlfriends for a long weekend retreat. We rented out a mountain cabin and transformed it into Scrapbooking Central. For four days we talked and drank and ate and laughed and created our own memories while recording those of our families. It was so important to me to go that I dragged Jack up as a three month old; I didn’t get a lot done, but my soul was filled.
At those retreats we each had our own 6-foot table that we’d drag up the mountain. Six feet of space to spread out and create. And, without fail, I was always gently teased by the others because I absolutely had to clean up my table between projects. Finish a layout? Clean everything up. Back to a clean space. Even mid-project, if I hit a block, I’d clean up what I could, just so I could think clearly enough to be creative.
I am the polar opposite of the messy creative stereotype. I must have clear spaces to create; even before sitting down to write this post I had to clean my desk, a giant six foot by three foot library table. Physical spaces for sure, but mental and emotional as well. If I have too much on my mind it’s as though the words are clogged by a giant gloppy hairball of stress. If I’m an emotional wreck, I just don’t even try, I just open my journaling app and scream in there. Lots of profanity and ALL CAPS, but always proper grammar, because I’m not a heathen, sheesh. When I go silent on the site here, it’s nearly always because things have gotten messy behind the scenes. Too much cluttering up my life, my mind, my emotions.
Life is messy. It zigs when you think it’ll zag, chases rainbows through the mud, never remembers to remove its shoes when it comes in the house. My natural tendency is to work before play, to tidy up life before diving into the creativity ball pit of fun, to deny myself the restorative act of creativity until a future “later.” News flash: that doesn’t work. Work is never done, life refuses to be tidied, and denying myself creativity is as moronic as denying myself oxygen.
So again, it’s a balance. Tidy the desk to write, but leave the dishes. Journal out the anger and frustration, but leave the passion for public viewing. Brain dump the stress, but leave the mind intact for making words and music and beauty.
As in music, practice makes better, never perfect. So I guess I’ll practice living at the intersection of creativity and life and see where that gets me.
Today’s post is part of the October Hoagies’ blog hop, on Creativity and Productivity. Other writers have more profound thoughts than I, and I encourage you to read what they have to say.