Accidental Fudge

Updates Thursdays

Tag: creativity

Reading Deprivation

I’m currently in the middle of week four of The Artist’s Way, and this week I’m supposed to try “reading deprivation” as a means of getting my own ideas out into the world. It is what it sounds like: this week, I’m not supposed to read. The idea is that, while reading is not an inherently bad thing, it often serves as a way for us to distract ourselves from our own thoughts and ideas. If you can’t read, eventually you get bored enough that you start to entertain yourself in new and creative ways, I suppose.

Now, I’m having to make some exceptions – I can’t do my job without email, and reading emails and text messages outside of work doesn’t tend to take up a huge amount of my time, so I haven’t really counted that as reading, either. Where I see myself wasting time and avoiding my own thoughts is in the moments where I get lost on Facebook or poking around other odd corners of the internet. So I’ve basically been off Facebook all week (with a couple of under-60-second exceptions), I’m checking Instagram less often, and I’m trying to steer clear of Google. I’m also not picking up the books I really want to be reading.

It’s been interesting so far. I’ve done more journaling. I’ve been doing tarot readings for myself (a different type of reading altogether that I sort of arbitrarily decided didn’t count), but haven’t cracked open a guidebook when I feel stuck on the meaning of something, which means I have to lean more on intuition and my own interpretations of things – not a bad practice, really. I’ve been looking for ways where I can use my imagination more, because I’m aware, when thinking about all of this, of how little I stretch those mental muscles these days.

I don’t know if it’s related to The Artist’s Way or not (I’m always skeptical), but I have actually been pretty damn productive this week, both creatively and at work.

Last week, I was feeling a little bit dubious about the new songwriting class I’m in – it’s pretty entirely self-directed (no predetermined assignments from the instructor), and I was worried that I’d be overwhelmed and not driven to get things done. But I didn’t want to dismiss it out of hand just because it’s not the format I’m used to, so I decided that I’m going to use this eight-week class to work on my ongoing project with no deadline – writing a song for every card in a tarot deck. I wrote my first tarot song in months over the weekend. I really liked how it turned out, and then I got some really useful feedback on it in class, which is ultimately what I want out of a songwriting class. So that was exciting.

And yesterday, at work, I managed to make some solid progress on a project that I’d been avoiding for weeks for no real reason. It was getting to the point where I’d avoided it so long that it felt impossible to do anything about it, but when I finally sat down and broke it into a couple of different tasks, it became suddenly manageable.

It’s been pretty challenging to stay awake through my morning pages this week, but I’ve managed. Some mornings I can get the three pages written in about 40 minutes…other days, like yesterday, it takes an hour and fifteen minutes or more. But I think it’s worth it, if for no other reason than it seems to be turning me into more of a morning person.

Keeping On

It’s been another week, and there’s been more awful things going on in the world. According to the Washington Post Fact-Checker, every single day of the current regime has brought with it a slew of lies (and these are just from the Dorito-in-Chief himself). Which is unsurprising, but, you know, horrifying. It’s also been in the upper 50s-60s Fahrenheit. In Chicago (and it was in Minnesota, too, when we were there over the weekend). In February. But don’t worry, our government no longer believes that climate change is real, so it’s fine, right? (Deep breaths, deep breaths…)

Still, life goes on (for now), so I’m trying to make the most of it. Here are some of the things that have made life a little more manageable in the past week:

  • On the recommendation of S. Bear Bergman, who decided he wanted to be able to get some news to start his day without getting inundated by it on Facebook first thing in the morning, I subscribed to theSkimm. It’s a little email digest that hits your inbox first thing each weekday morning and gives you some of the major news items of the previous day. It’s helped me feel like I’m in the loop without feeling the need to start my day off miserable by reading everything on social media, and that’s been really helpful.
  • I’ve been writing a lot. Much of this had to do with this week’s assignment from my songwriting class (part of which stipulated that we sat down and freewrote for half an hour three days in a row). A lot of what I wrote for the assignment had to do with Liberty and Justice and how we’re failing to honor those values that we tend to think of as being core to what America is. It was cathartic, even if I feel like the end product fell a little short of where I wanted it to.
  • I’ve picked up embroidery again, for the first time in about a decade. (When I was recovering from getting my wisdom teeth out in high school, my mother sat me down with an embroidery hoop, a tea towel, a pattern, and some thread to keep me entertained and out of trouble. I picked it up a couple of times after that, and always enjoyed it, but didn’t take any of that stuff with me when I moved to Chicago.) I bought a dozen handkerchiefs and some iron-on transfers and am enjoying how fast it is, particularly compared to knitting. (Not that I have any intention to give up knitting, but the instant gratification is a nice change of pace sometimes.) Here’s my first finished object:

    a little green leaf embroidered onto a white handkerchief corner

    a little green leaf embroidered onto a white handkerchief corner

So tell me, friends, what are you doing to make things bearable for yourselves these days?

Ramblings

First off, in case you missed it: I posted the audio of the show I played last week here.

And with that out of the way…I’m not totally sure what to write about this week. I’m still feeling fairly scattered. I’m still on the lower end of my bipolar cycle, which has been especially weird because things are going really well, generally speaking, and I have a lot of happy moments…but then I come down from the happy moments, skid past baseline, and find myself back in the land of sad for no real reason. It leaves me a bit befuddled every time, because how on earth can I be sad when there’s so much to be happy about? But it is what it is.

I think part of why I’m so scattered lately is that I would really love to just be doing creative things all the time, and that’s just not an option. I’m filling much of my free time with creativity, though, and that does help.

On the subject of things to be happy about – I’m really, really enjoying my new songwriting class. More than that, I’m really, really enjoying the songs that I’m writing! This is uncharted territory for me, but it’s fun so far. I actually had a moment this past week where I realized I could hear a harmony line to the song I’d written for class; that was a totally new experience, too.

I’m just wrapping up some creative work for 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities, putting together the book format for the script of their new show (The Naked I: Self-Defined, which opens in Minneapolis on February 12, and if you’re in town, you should absolutely buy tickets right now, because it’s going to be excellent). I’ve done the layout for the last two Naked I show scripts, and it’s always such an honor and a joy to be involved.

I have been knitting in fits and starts, much less frequently than I ordinarily would be at this time of year. I blame the weather – it’s been fluctuating quite a bit, and all my joints (including the ones in my hands) have been cranky because of it. As much as I’m thankful that it hasn’t been consistently miserably cold, I kind of wish Chicago would just pick a weather pattern and stick to it.

On that note, stay warm and well, folks; hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to write about next week!

Solstice Musings

Monday night was the winter solstice.

Monday morning was rainy, and I left the house without my usual Bag of Things; I shoved my Earthbound Oracle deck in my coat pocket on the way out the door on a whim, but otherwise was traveling unusually light. That evening, as I sat in a coffee shop trying to wake myself up before therapy, I pulled the deck out of my pocket. I pondered the darkness, and how I want so badly to love this time of year, but the lack of sunlight makes it so hard. I thought about endings and beginnings, about change. And as I thought, and as I wrestled with a lot of complex thoughts and feelings I still haven’t totally sorted yet, I shuffled and drew three cards.

Cards from the Earthbound Oracle, by A.L. Schwartz

Vision, Creativity, and Transformation.

Vision.

I’ve been feeling a bit…stuck lately. But I think the issue is less that I am stuck, and more than I am not moving as quickly as I want to. I have a vision of where I want myself to be in a year, and it’s going to take the better part of the year to get there. There is no way to fast-forward through it.

Creativity.

I started back in songwriting class in November, and have signed up for another class with a new teacher (who I’ve not met but have heard only good things about). I have, as always, about a dozen knitting projects in varying levels of completion around the apartment. This week I’m starting a small but incredibly rewarding freelance project that I’m really excited about.

Transformation.

The journey is never over. Identity is not static. My biggest frustrations come from transformation taking more time than I want it to…but the truth is that it is happening all the time, in a billion tiny ways I may not even recognize. I change my life and my life changes me and it’s messy and brilliant and terrifying all at once.

Vision, Creativity, and Transformation. My life is so full of these things. The visions may not always be the clearest, the creativity may not always be the most focused, and the transformation may not be the most obvious, but they’re all there. And they’ll continue to be there, carrying me through the dark months, reminding me of all the ways in which I am, truly, a very lucky man.

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