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  • Writer's pictureMargaret Weir

How Come She's Differ'nt Now?

A couple of years ago, I was sitting at my computer, staring at a blank canvas. Just staring. Not a thought in my head. It was happening far too often, as my inspiration sat, uncaring, on the couch beside me. Artists have dry seasons. That’s the way it is with creatives. We’re not creative all the time. Maybe, we're being told to take a step away. I don’t know. But, this time, as I glared at my muse, she glared back defiantly, uncrossed her legs, got up and left the room, leaving polka dots and rainbows scattered in her wake. My mojo sat there a few more moments, looking between me and the empty doorway. Then, she shrugged her shoulders, got up and followed after the muse. Traitor.

Why? What happens to my brain, that I just stop feeling creative? I can almost understand when it happens in spring and summer, when the pull of the trees and flowers draws me outside into nature. But, in winter, when all is still and white (or sometimes, frozen and brown), when venturing into the “wild” is limited - why? When I look forward to cozy winter days, I imagine myself diving into a deep pool of magic and boundless fantasy, drawing out beauty and mystery to add to my palette. I see what others offer, and think, “I could do that!” I see an image begin to come to life in my head, while I unwind before sleep. I sit down, open my workspace, ready a new page. Then, the blank.

Winston Churchill said, “The Maxim, ‘Nothing but perfection’, may be spelled "Paralysis". Is that it? I want perfection? In a way, I suppose I do. I am gobsmacked by others’ creativity. I look at where I’ve been, how far I’ve come, the lessons I’ve learned, and I say to myself, “You can pull a rabbit out of your hat. Now, let’s see it.” And, I’m paralyzed. I’m not really any good. I’ve had some thrilling successes, in my own estimation, but those might have been flukes, right? Logically, I know that’s not how we should think. I know it’s bosh. I know all of us wake up to find ourselves on the bottom of a dried up wadi, at times. But, as I sit there, sizing up the desert around me, it feels like this is it - the end of creativity. Every time it happens, I think, “Not again! Not again!”

Warren Buffet, on the other hand, said, “I've had periods in my life when I've had a bundle of ideas come along, and I've had long dry spells. If I get an idea next week, I'll do something. If not, I won't do a damn thing.” The driven part of me hates the idea of not doing a damn thing. Especially for more than a week. Something in me panics, thinking that if I’m not creating all the time, I will lose any ability to create anything. Such is the mind of the creative. We beat ourselves up when we create, because it’s not up to some vague standard. We beat ourselves up when we can’t create, because everyone else in the community is producing the most beautiful, inspiring works. In time, we crawl out of our holes and breathe the air, feel the sun. And, we reflect on what we have been through - just a blip, and we’re back. But, while we’re in it, it’s no blip. It’s the light-blocking curtain between us and productivity. Can I draw the curtain back, or will it lift on its own? I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go along.

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