Thursday, November 09, 2006
We're in the glory days of fall down here, and I'm loving the gorgeous trees. Our backyard keeps getting prettier everyday...I need to take a bunch of pictures and figure out how to stitch them together to give the scope of it. Here's a glimpse, though.
Soon the leaves will all fall and the houses across the ravine will magically be revealed again. And soon we'll have been here for one whole year. Amazing.
I get so impatient to overhaul this house and get things exactly how I want them...it's easy for me to forget that we've already done a lot and that it will just take more time to get to the rest.
I was poking around on Ali Edwards' blog last night and she had a list of books she was reading. I checked out one of the books on the list and found a link for another book that sounded like just what I need. So I went to Borders and picked it up today.
The book is The Creative License by Danny Gregory. It appears to be a book where you draw your way toward a more general creative renewal. Tons of drawings and hand-lettered text. I brought it home and read on the back deck in the last few moments of daylight tonight, and I'm already inspired.
I used to draw. Not a lot, but I took a couple classes, and I had a knack for it. Then when I was doing paper-piecing patterns for a company, and teaching my own classes, I had to do simple drawing for that, too. But it's been years and years since I just sat down and drew something.
There's one book that taught me how to draw, and one book that taught me how to write. The drawing book is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. Right brain/left brain is a more familiar concept now than it was 15 years ago when I first read the book, but her descriptions of the right-brain shift still inspire me. It's bliss, sheer bliss, when you're cruising along comfortably in right-brain mode. It's Nirvana. It feels like ages since I've been there!
The book that taught me how to write was the classic Writing Down the Bones, which is actually a book that can teach you how to live if you let it. I encountered both those books at about the same time, when I was newly-married, newly dropped from college, and trying to pull myself out of a depression. They helped.
Anyway, this new book is one of those books where you read a little, do an exercise, read a little more, do another exercise. I'm terrible about just reading the whole book and not bothering to get around to the exercises. (The Artist's Way is one of my guilty books...such good stuff but such a feeling of failure for not trying the system!) I am really going to try not to do that this time!
I've mentioned here a few times that scrapbooking and paper crafting has lost its pleasure for me, and that trying to forcibly re-capture it is not enjoyable. If it were only that one thing, I think I could just move on, but the fact is that I seem to have lost much of my creative impulse. I used to decorate for holidays, decorate my home, switch knick-knacks and pictures around, write for myself, make cards, make gifts...that impulse just feels dead inside me now. When I think about doing anything, I get very anxious and just go turn on the TV or come to the computer and lose myself in reading about other people's creativity. If I do finally accomplish something, it's after weeks and weeks of putting it off, studying it, doing a little bit, putting it off some more...I used to just plunge into stuff! I don't know what's wrong with me.
Some of it is laziness, for sure. Some of it is that I don't want to make any kind of mess that I'll have to clean up...I feel like I'm teetering on the edge of chaos a lot of days, and I fear that a mess will push me and the whole household over. Some of it is money--I am terrified to spend it and feel guilty when I do. That definitely saps the pleasure. Not that spending money is always essential, but a lot of ideas require at least some outlay.
And I think some of it is that wayward part of ourselves--a part that seems especially well-developed in me--that resists doing what we know would make us feel better. Why are humans so contrary?
Gregory puts a brutal quote in the beginning of his book:
"Every day we slaughter our finest impulses."--Henry Miller.
Why do we do that? Why do I do that?
So I'm going to draw. I'll let you know how it goes.
From Stephen Colbert's show Tuesday night (Stephen is a fake conservative pundit, for those who don't know):
"You’re the ones who made this bed. Now you’re the ones who are going to have to move over so a gay couple can sleep in it. Tomorrow you’re all going to wake up in a brave new world.
"A world where the constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones created in a stem-cell research lab run by homosexual doctors who sterilize their instruments over burning flags.
"Where tax & spend Democrats take all your hard-earned money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio and teach evolution to illegal immigrants.
"Oh – and everybody’s high!"