Monday, May 07, 2007

Spinning the Spent

Last week after a long, looong day at the cube farm, followed by a pretty hard-core kickboxing session with my trainer (how bourgeois is that that statement?) I dropped into my chair in my living room in an attempt to (i) crochet or knit something, anything, (ii) generally just decompress from the day's events and (iii) get through the hours of tube-action recorded on my DVR. Flipping through the list of the unwatched I settled upon an episode of Iconoclasts featuring Quentin Tarantino and Fiona Apple, both of whom I really like. (I also like that they're friends and have a sort of mutual admiration society going. )

Anyhow, as soon as the show/dialogue began I immediately found myself coming back to life and of course, sinking deep into thought (as is my way) at some of the ideas/conundrums/concepts debated and discussed by the dueling fonts of creativity. Although there was much said that resonated for me, I have to say that the portion of the dialogue that I cannot seem to shake centered upon the act of pouring huge amounts of self into a project and the subsequent "recovery process" that this kind of output can entail upon completion of said project. Obviously for Tarantino and Apple project is defined as entire film or album. For moi project is usually much smaller in scope (60" piece of wool bacon and the like) with occasional larger efforts here and there (large sculptural pieces like the squid - terrible pic, pirate and mermaid). Nonetheless, creative efforts cause us to expend the required amount of energy commensurate with project purview.

Definitely an intriguing topic for us who make stuff, yes indeed-y.

So, what happens to the maker after the energy has been expended and the project is complete? I can only speak for myself in this regard, but sometimes this completion signals a green light to begin something new, something never tried, something that builds upon the wisdom acquired from the previous effort, something that's been on the back burner desperately waiting to come to fruition. The remaining times I feel completely and utterly spent, having pushed forth a huge amount of myself literally outside myself in an effort to nurture an idea from conception through creation to completion. This process, my creative journey if you will, is all at once exhilarating, frustrating, exhausting, energizing, fraught with problems and solutions, wrought with pitfalls, freefalls and wonder. Really, after an experience of making such as the one just described I just want go have a smoke, and that's saying something for someone who hasn't taken a puff in 10 years give or take. It is in those times when the making is made and my creative self is exhausted that the time is ripe for turning my back to workspace in order to give mind and body a rest.

Whoa LadyLinoleum! What are you talking about? You seem to be switched to "on" 24/7!

Well my peoples, this current chick of the green blog that you now know as LadyLinoleum, is a direct result of the empty artist taking a break. And I don't mean weeks or months folks. Nope. After having expended copious amounts of energy to complete graduate school and a subsequent stint in teaching I was quite simply, empty. And being without contents? Yeah, I just couldn't make a thing. For about three years. And I survived. And when I was rested and ready, I hit the ground running so to speak, creativity intact and stronger than ever, if I do say so myself. And you know what? Apparently the Tarantinos and Apples of the world experienced similar if not longer respective hiatuses, each making nothing in between projects for about six years.

I am not alone. Nor am I anomalous I believe.

The great thing about human nature is our ability to rest and regenerate. The frustrating thing about human nature is our need to rest and regenerate. At least I found it frustrating when I was a young Linoleum, raring and ready to go for the next challenge or event. Now that I'm older, I recognize the positive aspects of rest and relaxation and their ability to quiet mind and body. When mind and body are quiet, they are also open. Open means those creative receptors are charged and queued, ready to tackle a new masterpiece.

Who knew empty could be so deep? Well, if you did, you are not only on your way to becoming a Buddhist monk, but you're a much more evolved person than I. However, if the pencil tip of your mind is, um, a little eroded much like mine, there's hope for you yet! Woo Hoo!


Will Blog for Yarn said...

empty can be VERY deep.
It's not a bad ting to just need to be without being creativity for a bit.
Sometimes, the soul just needs time to recharge.

Miriam said...

what you said really resonates with me. i'm always either all-in or totally disconnected in regard to my passions for things. feeling non-creative for any long period is always scary but strangely refreshing.

shula said...

LL, I think I love you.

I took a break from singing for 15 years.

Count them.


When the voice finally came back, it was actually better than before.

I take breaks from projects all the time. In order to make a decision about what to do with them. Sometimes it lasts a week, sometimes 10 years. There's no fighting it.

Shell said...

I think I've been doing that with sewing for about 7 years now, I love it, it is a great passion and yet I just can't bring myself to do much. My energy has been sent on parallel courses and I use much of what I know from sewing and apply it to knitting and other pursuits. One day I too will return, that will be quite the day

Briana said...

I think part of the issue with periods of rest has to do with the larger frustration of being divine within human constraints... I'm only half kidding there. But it wakes us better artists. See, you don't need to starve yourself to be a troubled artist, the fact that you are at the mercy of an organic mass of cells that has certain needs and cycles already takes care of that.

Loved our conversation Saturday, btw.

See you Friday!


Kim Wyatt said...

I gotta tell you. I have been there. The first time I felt totally empty I tried my best to fill my inspiration back up. It was like trying to fill up a bottomless pit.

The frustrating part is it came back when I wasn't looking. It took me over 6 months to realize I had a whole new body of work completed. I'd been finishing paintings & stuffing them into my flat files & forgetting all about them.

So never fear! Your voice will come back, loud & clear and stronger than ever!

stickchick said...

That really struck a cord, a very deep vibrating one. I've been really struggling with coming up with anything original. Really banging my head against the wall and hardly able to even copy things, an almost complete creative SLAM into the wall and am finally breaking free.

It is soo frustrating, but always a comfort to see how others come out and find that inner peace with themselves during those breaks. Knowing that those huge bursts of thought/energy will come back bigger and stronger if we let them, there is comfort in knowing.