Sunday, July 18, 2010

Creativity on Vacation

Not that kind of vacation, the kind of which myths such as writer's block arise. The kind where you're sitting at a desk on deadline and can't think of words of more than one syllable.

The other kind. When you have visitors, or are in a different physical location supposedly "relaxing," or are doing something else that other people think constitutes "time off."

When do people who do creative things ever have time off? You might have time off from "the man," if you work for someone else, or from your own paid work, if you're able to create a hole in your schedule.

Of course, in today's economy, many self-employed find more holes than work in their schedules, but that's a different "problem."

And I use the quotes on purpose. Not really knowing what it means to take "vacation" from your creative self is a luxury born of privilege. It is something those of us who aren't in active earthquake zones, those of us whose livelihoods haven't recently been spoiled by tar balls and oil plumes, those of us who aren't facing retirement with suddenly 1/3 less money in the bank have the opportunity to complain about.

And really, who wants to take a vacation from creativity? Perhaps "vacation," in a world and life of relative wealth, is simply an opportunity be creative in a different way.

I'm taking a break from my (ir)regular life while my sister is here. We're messing around at our camp ("cottage" in southern Ontario, "cabin" elsewhere), focusing on the business of daily living (woodstove), going out in the boat, swatting flies.

Occasionally I have thoughts or even, dare I say, insights about a work in progress. Sometimes I write them down. Sometimes I trust that they'll come back when paper and pencil are handier. I am trying to document life less (less time behind a camera, less time mentally writing scenes) and live it more.

The nicest part: I enjoy the company, I like my sister, I like how she fits into life here. And I like my regular life, too. As I say: my "problems" aren't really problems.

So I also remember those who will be creating new work from pain. The pain of living in war or natural disaster. The pain of life as "collateral damage" to a company's negligent attitude toward safety, its workers, and the environment. The pain of losing a loved one and hardly being able to process that fact, because here is another aspect of the disaster coming to smack you in the head.

To them, I wish the peace necessary to make the art that will feed their souls, and, eventually, ours. And over here, I'm grateful in my life.