Heavy, wet flakes of snow are dropping steadily from the sky today, weighing down branches, muffling sound. The girls are playing a CD of a singer whose mellow voice is new to me. I have brewed loose tea in my blue-and-white Spode teapot, poured it into a Christmas cup, stirred in a teaspoon of honey, and begun to sip it down smooth. I figure I can use these cups with their holly design until January 6, Epiphany, Three King’s Day—the end of the 12 days of Christmas.I’m sitting at my computer, enjoying my tea, remembering with a sigh that in a few days, school starts up again and I will return to grading papers and planning lessons. But right now, I’m sitting at my computer, sipping tea.And I pull out Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing, by my friend and colleague L.L. Barkat, and open to Chapter One, “Rumors: How it Begins.” I think about beginnings and how the new year is rising like a full moon in just a few days, to begin again the cycle of seasons. I think about the One-Year Bible and how this morning I finished my 2011 plan early because I accidentally launched a one-year plan for 2012 on my phone app last night and don’t want to get behind. I think how silly it is to let a phone app decide when I should start my reading plan, but I start anyway and I am of course in Genesis, the book of beginnings, and I think about how some things begin again even when we are in the middle of other things.And it is with this thought that I begin L.L.’s book that I have already read. I am beginning again in the middle of things, to revisit her simple writing reminders.And in that one-page chapter, she writes my life in a few simple lines:
I have been trying to write while raising my girls. I have been struggling. There are days I feel wildly creative; there are weeks when I feel ground down and completely spent. I am trying to show my girls that creativity is theirs for the taking. (Barkat 15)
I, too, have been trying to write while raising my kids; I, too, have been struggling, feeling wildly creative some days and “ground down and completely spent” on others.I finish re-reading one page in L.L.’s book, and I stop. That’s as far as I get in her book today.Out the window, I see the fir tree’s arms sagging under the pile-up of snow, and witness great white wads sliding off and flopping to the ground below. Splat.Winter is generally not my season of creativity. I am sluggish from the heavy snow and sunless skies.But L.L. reminds me that creativity is ours for the taking.I know it is true, but I wonder if I can really come alive right now. I usually have to wait until spring thaw for ideas to flow, but I decide I should come up with a plan to make this winter different. Instead of it being a sluggish, heavy season of survival, perhaps by nurturing my work, this can turn out to be a season of creativity.My nephew received art supplies for Christmas, and I thought of years past when my younger self had asked for art supplies, and I was given a set of pencils and sketch pads and charcoal and conté crayons. I still have some in the basement, gathering dust on a shelf.My journal, tucked into my purse, is an artist’s sketch book that I bought earlier this year and have been slowly filling with illegible script—curious thoughts, random ideas, questions, journal entries and sermon notes—but few sketches. Only occasional doodles and scribbles.Last week on Twitter someone linked to “5 Sketching Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci,” and this morning I was thinking about the first suggestion: to sketch something multiple times, from multiple angles, trusting that quantity leads to quality. I thought about how this might be a simply way to experiment again with art.I decide to retrieve my pencils and charcoal and conté crayons. And I resolve to work on my photography, as well, and my writing, looking at things multiple times from multiple angles, experimenting.I decide that creativity is mine for the taking.And winter can come alive.The music is still playing, and I can picture the box of pencils on the shelf where I stuck them years ago. In just a minute, I’ll finish my tea and head to the basement, wondering how to begin again.
Note: this post contains Associates links.
Today I link up, belated, with L.L. Barkat’s On, In and Around Mondays, and Laura Boggess’s Playdates with God.