My first post of the new year comes a little later than intended. But here, I get to talk about how easy it is to get derailed from our intentions, the power of community to help get us back on track, and the inspiration that comes from exploring other types of creativity.
I was no sooner back from holiday break, when my mom went into hospital less than a week later. She’s fine now, but during that time I was not only assisting her in getting back home and on her feet, I was also helping coordinate the MFA program residency for the university where I work. To say I had no time or physical or mental energy left over for creative work, is a major understatement. I wrote a few journal entries, and tried to think about and make notes on my monthly/annual plan, but that was it. And I had to accept that, because sometimes other things take priority.
Now that I’m back, my alumni workshop group is having its next meeting at the end of the month, and so I have prepared my manuscript for that. It’s a novel I’ve been working on, in fits and starts, for a while, and it will be good to get back into it. One of the most difficult things to do is get back to a project after a long hiatus. It seems overwhelming, and you can’t remember why you even started it in the first place. Which is why I recommend a) easing into it with a bite-sized chunk of time, and b) focusing on revision or simply re-reading, to get you back into the story. Setting too ambitious a goal right away will make resistance rear its snarling head and make it very difficult to do anything at all.
And finally, it’s the first real snow of the season here in the Boston area, and I’m celebrating by making cheddar vegetable soup and home-made Irish brown bread. Both are a total experiment for me, and that reminds me of the excitement and energy that come with doing something new, that I haven’t done before. It reminds me that living a creative life isn’t just about a particular writing project, but infusing my life with the spontaneous, the unexpected, and allowing myself to have “beginner’s mind” again. Regularly doing something new allows us to bring that fresh mindset to the page, and keeps us from getting stuck in a rut. Especially in the winter, when the doldrums hit and we just want to hibernate until spring, it’s good to shake things up a bit and remind ourselves that creativity is not only our birthright, but our natural way of being in the world.