Five novels. One book of poems about yoga. Short stories and poems that are autobiographical of myself and a couple of those close to me that have passed on. A weekly blog for a year, and then two more blogs nearly every week. Tuesday afternoons with a writers group. Countless emails to friends and coworkers, lists of things to do, web sites to visit, blogs to read, business and marketing ideas, and lesson plans for my class (as well as all the other paperwork involved in public education). To say that I rarely get the chance to write would be false. Some might call my work prolific, others just “don’t understand” my drive and desire to record a thought as words on paper. The more I saturate myself in the writing life, the more I’ve come to understand nuances of those places within me that were once in the dark. My “work”, being one of them.
In a post a while back, I had announced that manuscript #5, Of Art and Air, was completed, and that even my typist had finished taking my scribbles and putting them into 567 pages that constitute the first part of a trilogy involving three siblings. I believe I also shared that parts of the second story, Of Hoofprints and Heartbeats, involving the youngest sibling, and the plight of wild horses in the American Southwest, was coming through, my muse seeming to refuse to take time off. And the final segment, where the reader will be shown all the missing pieces, also involves alcoholism and violence. But before I could begin on the next segment, I would need to do an edit on #5, getting some of the clues in line and making sure characters were consistent. I always do at least one edit before allowing my reader to go through and give me feedback on where I’ve left holes in the story. I have, once, about a week ago, sat down to begin the editing process. Page 6 was as far as I’d gotten before life intruded, and I haven’t been back to my flash drive since. Not only are these stories clamoring away for my attention, but others have begun to flash in my mind. Tess and Sebastian, characters from another science fiction story, have already lived through a few harrowing events before Tess is abducted and Sebastian, who isn’t who he portrays himself to be, wonders if he has lost her for good. Then there’s the plot set in the late 1800’s in the West involving a train robbery. Nothing unique there, until the reader discovers what has been stolen. Now that I’m nearing the end of my 100 student teaching hours for yoga certification, and my understanding of philosophy and leading others through the practice is much more clear, whole stanzas of poems for Yogis All: A Transformational Journey Volume II continue to beat at me for my attention. And one more thing, since I have this Thursday off from school, I feel the need to drive from Phoenix to Jerome, take the back way in from Cottonwood, then wander the streets, the galleries, the bookstores, and cafes in search of the words to put down in poems about the town, myself, Arizona, and life.
If you’re at an impasse in your own creative venture, you might be cursing me, threatening to remove me from your bookmarks or favorites list. Please don’t. For though my sensual dance with words seems to be easy, there is the hesitation due to the consuming nature of an artistic project. It took me 7 months to complete Of Art and Air. Granted, the first month or so I battled myself and my inner critic, both of us walking away bloodied. It affected how the words flowed onto the page. I know there is a little fear that perhaps the second manuscript in the trilogy will be fraught with the same difficulty. And then there is the knowing of the hours and focused concentration, the dedication even in just the read through of the manuscript before giving it over to be reviewed. For every project I take on (or, rather, for each one that consumes me for the duration of its birthing), there is something of myself that is revealed, a piece that is exposed, and yet where I would expect perhaps emptiness, a counting down of “that’s all there is”, I find instead a filling up. The expectant dark holes are filled with the light of understanding of the world and my place in it.
Though I have always been one who finds exquisite joy in learning, I am also aware of time. The time it took me to allow the energy of words to manifest inside me and before me on the page (and in this case, the computer screen). Would I have created anything different had I started this rollercoaster ride of artistic endeavor at an earlier age? Or would the work have been half-formed, juvenile, its meaning lost on one who was not yet ready for such close scrutiny of one’s soul? All is as is should be, despite our human attempts to understand that which sometimes makes no sense. The time it takes to complete a project when we seem to covet that same time for so many other tasks, doling it out as if the candy machine were finite. And this, my friends, is part of the reason for my hesitation to begin the next part of getting #5 ready for print or indulging in the joy-revealing acts by partaking in any one of the creative dance partners listed in the above paragraph.
For those of you who earn a living at sharing your work, perhaps you can nod your head in silent agreement that once the muse takes hold, once the sensual, tantalizing dance begins, there is no, or very little, chance of sitting down as long as the music continues to play. Despite sore feet or a crowed dance floor or even if the song changes, our duty as creative beings is to revel in the feel of the musical notes as they wrap themselves around us, to even lose ourselves, just a little, in the arms and gaze of the muse as the energy flows through us and our medium, to express what has never been shared in all of time. But before we enter the mess of other bodies moving to the rhythms of life and their perspective of it, we take a deep breath and trustingly place our hand in that of our partner. Any doubt or fear or insecurity cannot cling to us as we whirl about, once again uncovering the pure love and joy that already resides within each of us. Our dharma (thanks, Caroline!).
So, even though my plate is stacked high with a full time teaching job, two wonderful horses who need my attention (as much as I need them), yoga students, my own yoga practice, the myriad ideas for marketing my business, My Joy Enterprises, and the small details that take up time and define tiny niches of my life, I will put on my dancing shoes and a smile and open a new sprial notebook as my muse whisks me around and around the dance floor of my creativity. What is holding you back from filling your dance card? Feeling uncomfortable with the consuming drive to complete a project, to write the novel, paint the picture, photographing your reality, composing the song of your heart? To be true to yourself, it will become more uncomfortable the longer you pretend to ignore the music and attmpt to remain a wallflower. Give in to the desire to be artistic. There is no right or wrong when creating, only a knowledge that time will be required and a trust that your partner will direct your feet upon your path. My web site allows visitors if you wish to view examples of my consuming creativity www.myjoyenterprises.com I invite you to leave a comment sharing the story of your consuming creative project.