Friday, October 21, 2011

Loving your creative work

In his lecture this week, Eric Maisel talked about lavishing love and attention on our creative projects. The attention part of it resonated right away with me. If I don't give my pastel work or my novel any attention, nothing happens. No progress gets made, no enjoyment is had. Even worse, whatever momentum I've built up starts to fade as well and it gets harder and harder to get back into it, like exercise after two weeks with a cold.

But the idea of lavishing love on my project is something new. Loving my work in the past has meant being pleased with it. Loving how a pastel works when it's done and on my wall. Or rereading a good chapter in the novel and feeling proud of how I wove an event into the story or appreciating the sound of certain sentences or turns of phrase. And sometimes I love the doing of it, in the sense of enjoyment as love.

But I think here Maisel is talking about love as nurturing, as tender care, as affectionate response. And that's something interesting for me to consider. For in a sense, that project, at least while I am working on it, is an aspect of myself, a part of myself. And my creative impulses are surely a part of myself. So if I don't love them, if I neglect and ignore them, then that's a vital part of me that gets ignored.

This opens up a whole different kind of thinking and feeling about what I do, in all the places of my life. Of applying all those biblical attributes of love to my project: being patient, being kind, being thoughtful, being respectful. Seeing my novel and my paintings as a valuable part of myself to encourage, not criticize. I'm curious now to see what can happen with this.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writing one book is not the same as writing another

Today was my 11th morning of writing an hour first thing. When I was writing the thriller novel that's now with my agent, whole chapters would appear at once in my imagination. I would get the kernel of an idea and it would just began to unscroll itself on the screen. Oh, I made decisions and had to sort out the details but a whole chapter would come.

Writing this book is a very different experience. Even more character-driven than the last book, this novel is about a daughter and her mother and her sister. It's about parenting when it isn't very good and what happens to those children, now grown-up, and to that woman now older and ill. Unlike the the last novel, which came out of my imagination backed up by my experience, this novel is coming out of my memories and my own stuck places backed up by my imagination.

Each morning, I write a page or two, each morning I move Frankie a little farther along her trajectory into the plot and into what's coming (and I don't know what's coming). There are also several subplots lurking in the back of my mind waiting for the right moment to come out.

It's very curious, this particular unfolding. And it intrigues me in a whole new way both as a writer and as a recovering daughter.