I'm sometimes asked how long it takes for me to write a book. In my mind I'm thinking, "Years." My standard answer is, "Usually longer than I think it will." It can be tempting to "skip to the end." In other words, only appreciating the end product. A beautiful cover, engaging back-cover copy and an endorsement from a talented writer. The final outcome is hours and hours and hours and hours invested over an unknown timeframe. It isn't healthy to dwell on outcomes. They are best released. Far better to concentrate on consistency as one pursues any creative endeavor. When can I grab a few minutes to write a paragraph or a few measures of music? It is difficult to find large swaths of time to create for most of us. We are working full-time, taking care of children or elderly parents. We are commuting an hour to work, then over an hour to get back home. NIghtmare traffic. We have birthdays to attend, bills to pay. We must get to the gym. Where do we find any time to pursue art? Is it even possible? "I won't think about playing my violin until I retire." "I'll pull the Julia Child cookbook out when the kids are in school." "It's too much trouble to get to that theatre production. I'll have to find parking." I know. I say those things too. "I'll just watch one more re-run of The Big Bang Theory instead of writing a few sentences about the sunset I witnessed on my walk. I'm tired. Who really cares anyway?" Perhaps no one will care. But eventually I will feel worse that I didn't shut the television off and pull out my journal. Just writing a few lines can rejuvenate my tired mind and body. Art does that.
We need encouragement to pursue our creative endeavors. Here are a few validating messages from Julia Cameron (taken from her book, Finding Water, The Art of Perseverance):
~Many of us expect our creativity to be dramatic. This is seldom the case. Very occasionally, we will have a flash of insight or intuition but more often we will experience a slow and steady course. Our creativity resembles sunlight more than lightning. Even in dark times, this is true.
~When artists are working regularly, they are spiritually centered. The act of making art is a spiritual act and our daily exposure to this realm does have an impact on our personality. It does not matter what language we use to describe it. Art puts us in touch with a power greater than ourselves. This conscious contact brings us a sense of optimism and grace. As we sense that there is a benevolent Something inclined toward helping us and our work, we begin to feel a sense of companionship. Higher forces are at our side. We are not alone.
~As artists, we need to work through many kinds of weather. It is lovely when we have a day of halcyon weather, when we wake up eager to work and have a day stretching out ahead of us filled with space and time. More often, we will feel resistant. We will move grudgingly and under half steam. Some of our best work is done under the least favorable conditions. We grab twenty minutes to write, telling ourselves it is barely worth the attempt and our sentences come flying to the page with winged feet. We go to the easel knowing we are going to be grabbing a few quick strokes before another interruption looms, but with those quick strokes we execute a tricky part of the portrait. It is done before we know it.
It was not a "halcyon weather" writing day. I had to stay several hours later at work than I usually do--a patient in distress. Intervention needed. When I got home, all I wanted to do was flop down on the sofa and turn on the TV. Yet I couldn't resist looking out the window. I stood on the porch and witnessed the sunset. I pulled out my journal...
The sky sings, breathing colors. Layers of orchid and blue, laced with light. Tree branches frame patches of persimmon and gold. Here I am embraced, surrounded, drenched in creation's hymn.