It’s been a week in Boston and I am feeling a little rudderless again. I tell myself it’s a natural side effect of moving cross-country. I tell myself it’s the time change. I tell myself it’s because the apartment is dark and the desks aren’t by the windows. I don’t know which of these is true, if any, but I have definitely lost some of the momentum of my last couple of weeks in San Jose. I know I should be writing, but nothing feels compelling, except the morning pages I continue to do daily (now closer to noon since I’m still on California time). I know I should be painting, but my skill feels so limited, as if I could only make sad baby attempts at everything I want to capture. I tell myself none of this matters and I should just go at it, regardless. But I don’t.
- gone to the farmers’ market twice
- met some of our neighbors
- had two dinners and one lunch with old friends and new
- tried candlepin bowling (shocker: I’m not horrible at it!)
- cooked a lot of chickpeas, freezing three cans’ worth and making hummus from the rest
- made up a big batch of granola
- read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris by Patricia Engel, and Let Your Life Speak by Parker J Palmer, all of which I highly highly recommend
- skimmed three books of writing exercises
- downloaded a watercolor exercise e-book
- reached a high score of 499 on Erik’s new iPhone/iPad app, Times Nine (if you try it, you’ll understand that a score of 499 is not something one achieves in a single sitting)
- played way too many worlds in Katamari Amore
- had my nails painted à la Clyfford Still
Looking back, this does seem a reasonable set of accomplishments for a week, especially given the move. It’s just that I had such a good rhythm to my work, right before we left, and it makes me cranky to have to find it again here. Silly of me, to imagine that the transition would be seamless.
Anyway, I really should know by now that growing pains always mean better things are coming. At some point I will find my productive stride here and make something way cooler than anything I’ve made before. The past week hasn’t looked very creative, but there is a dormant feel to it all, a sense of things moving under the surface.
I leave you with a couple of thoughts:
The other day I looked over my blog archives and saw that the last time I was posting on anything even approaching a regular schedule was in April of this year, when I averaged two posts a week. These days my average is less than one per week. I am not sure what that indicates but it surely signifies something.
While I was talking with Victoria Shen, who gave me my modernist manicure, I realized something about my writing/art relationship that I’ve never thought about before. I’m capable of writing eloquent description, but I often don’t; when I read my piece in The Places We’ve Been I felt my narrative was so much more internal than everyone else’s, conveying so much less of the scenery I saw before me. I think these days I don’t bring my visual eye to my prose because I have art for that. And then I recognized that this might also be why I’m always fretting that my art isn’t expressive enough, doesn’t have as much emotion or abstraction as I want in it — it’s because I keep those qualities for my writing. Dunno if that’s fully true, but something is truth in there, and it gives me to think.
“The other day I looked over my blog archives and saw that the last time I was posting on anything even approaching a regular schedule was in April of this year, when I averaged two posts a week.”
I know what you mean–I was feeling particularly uninspired to write anything on a remotely regular basis since last spring. In fact, it’s only in the past few weeks I’ve updated my blog. I tried forcing myself to stick to a regular schedule (like maybe one post a week or two or three per month) and it just wasn’t happening. If I wasn’t feeling inspired, it was a chore to write anything. In fact, I started a few blog posts and immediately stopped because it felt like I “had” to write, and whatever I put to text came off as incredibly generic and without any sort of passion or purpose. I suspect that if I were on the other side of the podium and had to force myself to draw/paint when I wasn’t feeling it, my art would suffer as a result.
Is the move to Boston permanent, or a short-term thing? I actually had the pleasure recently of talking to an artist and former art model who lived in Boston back in the early 90s. Always fun to talk shop with an artist or model who comes from a different area 🙂
Hi Jason! I’m glad you’ve been back on the blog, though when you were on hiatus I was selfishly glad for that too since it coincided with a time when I was really behind on blogs — I always love to read yours so I was glad to not have the guilt of skipping out on your posts. 😉 I guess blogging has the same ebb and flow of everything else in our lives, no?
We’re in Boston for three months, because a friend of a friend was subletting his artist’s live/work loft and I thought it would be a fun thing to do. It’s definitely really inspiring being in such creative surroundings all the time… not that that makes me work when I’m having trouble with working, but it’s just generally a good atmosphere.
It’s funny you know, I do often have to force myself to draw/paint a model when I’m not feeling it (because I’ve already committed to the session and paid for it!), and although it’s not so nice at the time, often I really like those sketches after the fact. It has less to do with that “blehhhh” state of mind than the fact that when I’m feeling bleh but forced to be there, I tend to think, “Eh, these sketches are already going to be crap, so I might as well go wild and experiment.” And of course the experiments bring freshness. But I don’t know if writing works the same way. I guess it doesn’t if I’m just trying to write one particular thing, but if I wanted to simply write and didn’t care what about, sometimes those kinds of freewrites lead to fun outcomes.
Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m glad you like my blog and I love reading yours! I don’t get the chance to do much (more like *any*) travel, so I always enjoy the chance to live vicariously through your adventures 🙂
I know when my posts feel forced, I always remember certain writing assignments in high school or college when they’d give a particular topic to write about, and I was just not feeling it, so it felt like I was phoning the assignment in.
While I have zero drawing/painting ability, I’d almost imagine my mindset would be the same if I was either creating art when i wasn’t feeling like it, or even if the model didn’t inspire me for whatever particular reason. And I think in your case it’s neat how you can use that to go wild and get creative and experiment!
I’m glad someone else feels the same way. I owe a blog post but I can’t get myself to get on any sort of schedule to churn anything out. I owe Spoonwiz a post as well. *shrug*
I see you have a new one up today 🙂 I was thinking of you yesterday and wondering how everything’s going. ❤
Personally, I’d rather read one post a month that made me think, than daily posts that I just skimmed. Yours always make me think. And as far as those feelings of being empty of meaningful words, of being rudderless, I think that sometimes we just need a break to let those words build back up inside. We need to pause and soak in life so we can then go back and regurgitate it in our art. Not a compelling image I know, but the best word I could think of. I probably need to go soak, too! All the things that you do right now, are things that will fuel the artistic side when the time is right. So relax and enjoy where you are in this moment. The creativity is simply floating. The rudder will swing out in the right direction again.
Oh thank you, Lisa. I’m late replying to this but I read it the day you posted it, and your last sentences buoyed me so much. You’re quite right of course; the rudder is swinging out in useful directions again.
I have my blogs that make me think, and those with regular posts that I just skim or laugh at. If I had to choose only one I’d opt for the ones that make me think (and obviously that’s the kind I want to be, so I’m honored you think so), but I’m glad I don’t have to choose. 🙂
Dear and beautiful Lisa, you wrote so many thoughts which I completely empathize with and very often feel quite similar. But you know Lisa, something usually happen and it does not have to be anything big, super extremely special, it can be light of the sun in kitchen during the morning like this when I am writing to you and those little moments always bring me back to hope, understanding and being kind to myself. it is almost magical process but always works. I hope you find something magical too, something which brings you back and gives hope and put thoughts and creativity in the right direction.
Thank you, dear Aga. 🙂 You’re right, for me something usually does happen to restore my feelings of hope. In this case it was a kitten and friends and pie. 🙂