Monday, August 22, 2011

Creative Frenzy


The word ‘frenzy’ brings a distinct picture to mind, doesn’t it?  Something like this, perhaps:  Hair standing on end, glasses sitting crookedly on face, eyes wildly darting,  feverishly  - even manically, perhaps- scurrying around from task to task, muttering under one’s breath all the while,  not actually accomplishing anything, just driving everyone nearby crazy with useless, undirected  activity.   Of course I’m not talking about myself – well, not at the moment, anyway.   I have been there, of course, too many times to count.  Don’t especially like the place, but still am compelled to go there anyway from time to time.  (Actually I think that many of us  spend a great deal of time there with our breathtakingly busy lives, just trying to get something , ANYTHING, completed before we have to do the next thing.   It’s called being a grown-up, I think, but I suspect we bring a lot of it on ourselves.) 
 However, that exploration is for another day.  Because today I want to talk about ideas, and what to do about them.   I am in a frenzy at the moment, but (thank God) not the useless, crazy-making kind  – I'm in a creative frenzy.  There's a veritable rollercoaster of ideas whizzing about inside me - to the point where I have to keep a pen and notebook by my bed, in my purse, in the car - so I can write them down whenever and wherever they strike.   I’m actually enjoying this flow of creativity enormously – ideas galore - fabuloso!  As soon as I finish one thing, I am raring to get started on the next one.  Whoo-hoo – what a ride!

 Naturally, in the (typical) human fashion, what appears to be a boon also has another, darker side (also known as the PRACTICAL side.)    First of all, not all the ideas are exactly superb.  Some (meaning many) of them actually stink - badly.  But that’s just a minor blip, because it’s all about flow – you can edit out the garbage later (And there will be some good ideas, even if it is only two out of two thousand, it’s okay, really - my guess is that that is actually a pretty good ratio of cream to er- crap.)

No, the dark side is far more evilly insidious.  Because it has to do with the question, “Why?  Why am I doing this - why am I spending several hours a day creating?  Why am I getting all these ideas?  What am I supposed to do with them?   Does it have a purpose - am I helping the world, making it a better place?”  And then there’s the most frightening question of all:  “Am I wasting my time?”  EEEEK– just writing the question makes me bite my nails.

 This is my black hole.  As always, I blame my mother and my German blood for it – she would never let me take Art in school; said it wasn’t a serious subject.  She pushed (okay, not that hard, I pushed myself harder) me to be an academic, to pursue a career, a job.   The right, practical (German) thing to do was get an education, a job and be secure.  And remember, I like to do the right thing…so I did it, by golly.   I have been working since I was 15.  I went to college and graduate school and I have worked all my adult life.  I am a mother and a wife and I take care of my responsibilities, dammit.   And, I feel lucky to add that I have been extremely happy doing it.  I like to work, I like to contribute, I like to do my part -no complaints there.

Plus, I didn’t think I had an artistic cell in my body until I was thirty-one.  That was the year I got pregnant with my son.  It was as if suddenly a dam broke loose inside me along with my water, because after he was born I couldn’t stop the ideas from coming, even if I wanted to.  And then I moved back to Texas and my mother introduced me to quilting and there really weren’t enough hours in the day.  I (and my family) found myself quite put out when I could get to my art on a regular basis.

Fast forward to now,  the present moment.  Here I sit, with this flurry of ideas and the opportunity to pursue them, but… it seems somehow too indulgent, too selfish – too fun, really, to go for it,  because there’s that (diabolical) practical side breathing down my neck, asking those horrible, soul-sucking questions. 

So what to do, what to do…Well, as you may have guessed, I’m just doing it.  I’m taking this inspiration and jumping right into the vortex of the dark hole.   I have no idea where it will take me or whether it will spit me right back out, but I’m doing it anyway.    I know from experience that this flash of ideas doesn’t grow on trees, so I’m going to create, quilt, write, paint - all of it - while the creative stars are aligned for me, and whatever happens, happens.   I’m fine with whatever- security is a state of mind, anyway.  Some people feel secure in the midst of a plane crash and others feel unsafe with a million dollars in the bank. )

 For some reason, a new door has appeared in my life and I want to go through it, even if it is scary.   And I’m not asking if it matters or it’s a waste of time, either, so please - don’t tell me!