I’ve read “A Room of One’s Own” and “The Artist’s Way.” I understand that committing to your creative craft—whatever that craft may be—requires dedication and energy. What I don’t understand is how normal people with average incomes and real jobs and families and chores and only twenty four hours in the day can organize their lives in such a way that they actually a) carve out the necessary time and b) have the mental and physical energy to nourish their creative souls. People do it, but I cannot, for the life of me, figure out HOW they do it. The concept of “free time” makes about as much sense to me as advanced quantum physics being taught by someone speaking Gaelic. So what I generally end up doing is making plans in my head that never come to fruition and only end up frustrating me and making me more disappointed in myself.
For instance, a couple of years ago, I told myself that I was going to take advantage of my company’s (unpaid) Sabbatical policy and take a big chunk of time off to get all of the boxes and boxes and boxes of random written documentation of my life—everything from birthday cards to letters from camp to diaries to notes passed in class—organized and catalogued so that I could begin to write a type of creative nonfiction memoir thing. Man, I was excited about this idea. I even had a title in mind for what I wanted the end product to be called. My plan was that I would spend part of my days doing the physical cataloguing and creating notes that would piece together what the narrative of the story would be. My goal would be to capture the essence of that CRAZIEST/WILDEST/FUNNIEST person I’d once been, and tell her story. I’d spend full, glorious days writing, writing, and writing some more. I’d take breaks now and again to work out or go take a swim, but my main focus would be my complete immersion in and devotion to the creative process. At the end of these hypothetical days, I’d go get the Geej from school and then be totally devoted to my time with her without being distracted by the incessant gnawing in my gut caused by my horribly neglected creative muse.
But guess what: none of that ever happened. Concerns over not drawing a paycheck during my sabbatical and the profound negative impact that would have on my savings account coupled with my “what if I start something that sucks and/or I never finish” anxiety aborted this adventure before it’d even had a chance to begin. The desire for who I wanted to be and what I really wanted to do was simply no match for the forced practicality of my grown-up responsibilities.
And now, here I am: forty years old and totally creatively withered. The absence of any real inspiration or creative challenges and outlets in my life has made an internal environment where depression grows like kudzu, wrapping itself around and slowly strangling me. My biggest fear is that I actually AM too old to be what I might have been and the only things I have to look forward to are numbness and regret.
To be continued...