Yesterday’s post was a lament about how uninspired and bored I had become in my creative endeavors. However, I stumbled across a recent Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert where she discusses how she deals with the effect of success and failure on her creative process. I don’t have exactly her problem, but her advice is adaptable to my situation. I offer it here for your consideration:
For a couple of months, I have been casting about for a new project to engage. The reason is that my short story well seems to have gone dry. There are only so many “woman-has-paranormal-experience-and-reader-wonders-if-she-is-crazy” stories that one can write. Writing Japanese poetry? Meh…. And art-making? My place is already a mess, I don’t need to make it even messier with paint and whatnot. So what to do?
When I was in high school, I read a lot of James Michener novels. Recently, I decided that I wanted to re-read The Source which is novel about the history of an archaeological site in Israel. I have always enjoyed historical novels, though I would probably never write one myself — just too much research involved. But then again….. I do have a background in history and I was trained to do research. When was the last time I engaged in any research? So am thinking maybe I could at least flex some of my researcher muscles again even though writing may be limited to research notes jotted in my journal.
Ah, but where to start?
Last year a relative shared a list of my ancestors who had served as soldiers during the American Revolution. (I wrote about this last year). I don’t actually care so much about names and dates of a genealogy. I do care about what these people did. So I am thinking — even if I don’t actually write anything — it would be interesting to see if there are any written records that speak about these individuals. What can I glean from the historical record? Who were these people and what part did they play in history?
I don’t know where this will lead. Like I said, I am not up to writing an epic history about anyone, let alone my ancestors. But at least for a little while, I will get my lazy creative butt off the couch and into the book stacks.
One day last month, as I sat near the edge of a koi pond, I began to wonder if the ginko tree at the center of the garden, a species unchanged in two hundred million years, may be the source of some of the world’s stories about sacred trees. Here is my interpretation, through a lens, of this ancient motif:
ljgloyd (c) 2015
From something Scott Pelley said a few days ago:
Cruising up the 101, I am a singing along with my sister and Jimmy Buffett. The sun, not a weak and watery winter’s light, but a bold, brain-slicing glare, cuts through the windshield, making me almost miss the silhouette of Anacapa Island rising out of the ocean. We stop to visit a ninety-five year-old widow. She lives alone in a ranch house at the mouth of a canyon, where coyotes come and go at night. Her age and circumstances do not keep her from doing her chores. We are silent as we drive back home.
Three towels to the wind
Frost on the grass this morning
This past year, which shall remain nameless because I want it –for the most part– to disappear from my memory, was a tough one for me. I don’t want to dwell on the details. There is only one thing I want to remember from this year just gone: That I made it through. I was blessed beyond anything I could have imagined.
Recently, a meme popped up on my Facebook page. I tracked down the source of the quote to an author by the name of Jacob Nordby. I have never heard of him, but he wrote (or said — I don’t know which) something that just resonated with me regarding finding one’s strength, one’s blessedness, by embracing oneself. I re-imaged the quote and combined it with a photograph of a mask I made a couple of weeks ago. I am going to print this and put it up where I can see it every day.
Mask image by LJGloyd (c) December 2015