To paraphrase Elizabeth Gilbert: when you’re busy doing a creative thing, and you think it’s a thing that you’re passionate about, it’s really a matter of having chosen a particular flavour of sh*t sandwich. That is, do it because you want to. Do it because you (mostly) love it. Don’t expect it to be easy, or necessarily financially rewarding. Do it because you can’t NOT do it.
When it seems as if the world around you is on the cusp of descending into war, or chaos, or fascism, then your creative pursuit can start to feel small. Pointless. Ridiculous.
Well it’s not. Trust me. By carrying on, you’re committing a vital and bold act. Even if you can’t see where you’re going. Even if you’re working in the dark. And by creative pursuit, I’m including the planting of seeds, the making of a particularly delicious lasagne, an unseen dance around your lounge.
Last time I wrote, I was in the early stages of that novel writing month where you are supposed to write 50,000 words in a month. I didn’t get there. I barely got to 10K. Over the holidays I switched off, and during January, as snow, pneumonia, lugging wood and keeping the kettle on the boil took over, I felt like I was hibernating.
Now the snow is melting; today I saw snowdrops where yesterday there had been nothing but a foot of slush. They were there all along, fully formed perhaps. Just waiting to emerge. Ta-da! Like, ‘lady, we were totally here all along. Doing our thing. We were just on ice.’
So I’m taking my work-in-progress off ice. I’m waiting for print proofs of my other novel. I’m dreaming up more stories. I’m reading Maria Popova on Rebecca Solnit, on hope. (You should too). I like what she says about mushrooms, and the unseen.
Also, I’m joining in. I’m honoured to be a part of artist Eli Trier’s project: The Power of Ritual, which starts tomorrow. It doesn’t cost anything, and I’d love for you to join in too. You’ll hear from 21 of us on those little patterns, rituals and things that give us anchor and hope. Me, I’m rubbish at sticking to things like that, so I wrote about getting scrubbed with the local ladies in the mineral baths. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
So, onwards, eh? Courage x