In the heat of summer, when the temperature inside is the same as the sunny backyard, formulating any thoughts, let alone creative ones, has been a challenge. Based on the 30 pages of dreck I’ve added to The Novel, I’d have to say creativity spent the summer elsewhere.
I’ve tried not to beat myself up over my sloth. I’ve been on holiday too – I’ve slept in. I’ve happily written in this blog. I’ve gardened (if you call staring at my tomato plants in abject frustration “gardening”). Lately though, perhaps as I’ve felt autumn creeping into the night air, lazy days are at their end. It might be time to get serious and kick myself off the sofa.
Over a tall glass of iced coffee the other afternoon, I thumbed through the latest issue of Poets & Writers. I read it cover to cover. Putting the magazine down, I drummed my fingers on the table. What had I done lately? What had I written (besides this blog)? In typical paranoid fashion, I worried: what if creativity never comes home from its holiday? For the briefest of seconds, I envisioned Creativity sitting in a sunny cafe somewhere with a fresh stamp on her passport.
Or, Creativity could be right here in this disaster of a house, under piles of laundry that have accumulated; perhaps under the stack of papers and bills that I’ve shoved into my desk drawer since summer began. Creativity, perhaps miffed by my addiction to this blog, has hidden itself away in a huff. Now that I realize I’ve missed it, the ability to invent on the spur of the moment is nowhere to be found. Sure, there’s The Novel but I fear it’s 178 pages of Poo in Progress.
Then, something happened. I can’t say how – God knows I’m the last person on earth to be able to explain how my mind works – but in a split second…no, a nanosecond, my mind flashed back to dinner a few nights ago. We played a game: invent your perfect world. My daughter invented a world with unicorns, lawns made entirely of glitter, and Skittles. It was a deliriously happy world, all the time. Annoying, I thought. Being a perverse little banshee, I wondered how such a glittery, rainbow world would deal with a murder and teenage rebellion. I wrote a paragraph down quickly, before it slipped away. A start.
That little paragraph didn’t bring Creativity home. Creativity is like a cat, it’ll come home when it damn well wants to but that idea left the door open just a crack. No forcing – forcing leads to dreck (see words on novel above). I had to let it be. Sometimes naps help and yesterday, I took a big nap.
When I awoke, the sun was low in the sky; my house was dark and quiet. For a few minutes, I had no idea where I was, what time it was, or what day it was. On auto-pilot, I headed for my computer. I stared at the screen. Outside, ciccadas buzzed. As if in a trance, I opened Word and started typing. Words flowed. I closed my eyes and saw clearly the scene and two characters. I could smell the air (cedar and lemons). I’m not even sure I was awake.
Creativity, it seemed, was home from summer holiday. Welcome back.