There were days that I felt "futless." You know the feeling? You feel like you should be doing more than you are? I think it comes from what a boss once told me I had: "a work ethic." I guess I'm a pretty serious person (I'm often told to lighten up) and doing nothing doesn't sit well with me. But I think it's like breathing, in order to exhale, you have to inhale. So, times of seeming idleness and rest, are inhalations. Time of creativity are exhalations. The inhalations are necessary and individual and the exhalations are inevitable. In other words, an ebb and flow.
So, how do you get to the exhalations? What is it you want to get done? Write it down. I want to write more "Talk Story" kind stories (the HTY holiday series that I participated in under a former artistic director) so that I have enough to publish a book. So, to get this done, an idea emerged for New Year's, and I have drafted it. I also had a thought that I wanted it to be illustrated, maybe in comic book form. I also want to write a children's book from my play, Pulani.
I really don't know how I get on these email lists (social media/ internet marketing is mysterious and eerily right-on), but I started receiving emails from the website Craftsy.com. It is a website that sells online classes that are arts or "crafts" oriented. I read on their "About" that it started with one of the founder's mother's ideas for lessons on quilting. I went in, explored, and put some classes on a wish list. As I was going through my inhalation period, I got "hooked" by their marketing strategy of the items on "sale." I distinctly remember thinking, I would feel really bad if the sale ended and these classes on my wish list went up in price. Even though I am trying to curb my spending because of my reduced retirement income, I took the bait, and bought two classes, on sale.
One of them, "Sketchbooks: Drawing the Everyday" I took for two reasons: I have always wanted to learn to do this and I am thinking about illustrations for my Talk Story Project. The other one, "The Art of the Picture Book" I took because of my Pulani project. Yesterday, I did the first 2 lessons in the Sketchbook class and am feeling proud of myself. Of course, I have a long ways to go. This will take lots of practice, but it's satisfying to have a thought become a tangible thing, like a drawing, as imperfect as it may be. By the way, I wouldn't mind collaborating with an illustrator, if anyone is interested.
Lessons learned about the process of getting from inhalation to exhalation:
1. Recognize the "futlessness" or inactivity as part of the rhythm of life, the ebb, the inhalation. Be okay with it. Walk, read, dance, go to the beach.
2. Record what it is you want to do next. Record any ideas that come to you.
3. When you are ready, GO! Do what you need to do to get the idea to fruition. It may be to take a class, or to just sit with your journal, or with the computer, and let one thing lead to another.
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.