Creativity: The River Changes Course

Today I read a fellow bloggers post about how writing is not as important to her as many other things. She detailed how several trying events had unfolded in her life recently and that had rendered her unable to write until she really got a handle on them. She also pointed out how a loved one had noticed that she hadn’t written a blog post recently. So Mom, this one’s for you.

That fellow blogger that I referred to had 39 “likes” on one post. That may not seem like much, but that is only fellow bloggers that liked her post. I don’t think I’ve ever topped more than 9 fellow bloggers on one post. My last post got 8 likes and 100ish total views. So proportionally, this fellow blogger got 400-500 views on her one post. I think she and another friend have been chosen by WordPress as their blog of the week or month or year or something. Another friend wrote today that he has something like 3000 regular readers of his blogs. I don’t recall quite how he came up with that number, but I remember it was based on a sound reasoning.

I have never been selected by WordPress for blog of the week or month or year and, as I said, I don’t get anywhere near the traffic that these others get. And I’ll admit to a slight pang of jealousy when I reflected on how relatively unnoticed I am in the blogosphere. Personally, since I opened the flood gates on my creativity about three years ago after a long, long hiatus, I have had a tidal wave of creative water flowing through my life (Wait, did I just mix metaphors? Let me re-read that … Nope, just slightly confused the imagery. We’re good.) I recently got on a mailing list for a guy named Jon Morrow who apparently knows all about how to get your blog noticed on a mass scale, as well as a couple of his videos about how to get writing gigs (albeit unpaid) for The Huffington Post. A little over a year ago, I bought a digital piano and have been averaging 3-4 practice sessions per week. Not bad, but it’s difficult for me to practice that much, then listen to people like Tom Waits and Bob Malone and not feel incredibly remiss about the long, long hiatus I took from playing piano after 9 years of formal lessons. I once read Stephen King say he plays guitar in a band with other writers and “you’d pay to see us.” Again, the dagger of jealousy takes a piece out of my gut when I think of how good I could be if I hadn’t spent, oh about 10 years or so, feeling sorry for myself and 3 years trying to drink myself to death.

This morning as I was driving to the job site, I heard an interview on NPR with Helen Fielding, the writer and creator of the character Bridget Jones. Fielding said something that sent a sense of relief washing over me after all the self-induced guilt about all of this. She said creativity is like a river, it seems to choose its own path. To build on that concept, the artist really only has control over whether the river is a trickle, a babbling brook or the Mississippi. It’s course really isn’t so much the choice of the artist as it is how the artist weathers the elements. For the last two months, I’ve funneled all my creative energy into writing a memoir which, after I decided on its message, is actually a pleasure to write. I set aside an hour to write almost every day and have a bonafide manuscript with an estimated completion date for the rough draft and everything. I happen to be in a spot where the elements of the story are getting pretty vicious at times, but I’ve battened down the hatches (I don’t even know what that means, but I think it’s a sailing term that refers to preparing for rocky waters and so far this navigation/river/water metaphor seems to be the vehicle of this post, so I’ll ride it out) and I’ve also learned the importance of laughing through the storm with always on eye on being real and true with my chosen voice (I like to think of it as a little Tom Robbins, a little Stephen King and a lot Anne Lamott).

Truth is, I chose to hunker down and work on writing this book and though I envy my fellow bloggers for the recognition they’ve received, I am of the inclination that when I decide to focus on something, it’s all I focus on and right now, it’s getting the book written. I’m sure I’ll revisit blogging on a regular basis again eventually and, while I will probably never be a virtuoso piano player, that’s not my I bought the damn thing in the first place. I bought it because after many years, creativity came rushing out of me and, now, is simply steadying itself to a steady regular flow. It’s my job to simply grab an oar and loosely direct where I go.

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