Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stop struggling

Every once in a while I get stumped for something to write. I've been stumped for a couple of weeks, but yesterday I had a break-through. I was reading The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock when it hit me that I didn't have struggle, just let it happen.

I felt stymied by the subjects. What did I have to write about weddings? I've been in a few weddings, helped out with several others, designed and made wedding gowns and bouquets, and I've been married twice, but I didn't have anything to say -- until this morning. My wedding, a shotgun affair that I pulled together in two weeks, despite wanting to run to Florida to be with someone I loved who had just lost his mother, was an exercise in frustration. Suddenly, I remembered Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief and I had my theme. Now that I've written the essay, I have other ideas popping around in my head like pumpkin seeds in a hot pan. I had forgotten (although how I don't know) about the night before my cousin Laura's wedding when I had five frilly, gathered, pinafores dumped in my lap to make. I still hate the sight of that particular material and I refuse to invoke its name for fear it will appear on my door step once again. If I can carve out another hour, I'll write about that fiasco, too. I'm sure I can talk my cousin into sending me a picture of the wedding party or at least the bouquet I was supposed to catch as payment for my all night sewing fest. Some athletic, half-grasshopper fiend in drag snatched it from the air before it got to me. And then there's the problem with pink.

I hate pink, insipid, fluffy, frilly, baby-talking pink. I'm supposed to write about it for Underwired Magazine. Considering my feelings about the color pink, what positive thing could I write? Maureen Murdock came to my rescue. I don't have to be positive. I can be negative and funny when I write about pink. And that's what happened. The editor rejected the last piece I sent her, but she said she'd like to see more. I'm grateful she's becoming a fan of my writing, but it's payment I want and thinking pink may just get me there. I'm ahead of deadline, too.

The creative process is sometimes difficult, but it's not limited to writing, as a close friend reminded me yesterday.

He emailed me with pictures of his new acquisition, a 1983 VW Rabbit GTI, which is about to undergo drastic metal surgery. It's being converted to an electric car. The car isn't very pretty and has been wrecked, but it runs and he's so excited about the project, as he always is whenever he starts something new. The simplest things give him that wild-eyed look that some people mistake for insanity. He got the look with book binding and building a trailer from a kit and he always gets it whenever electronics are involved. I'm excited for him because he's the most fascinating person I know.

While he doesn't write stories or articles (we won't discuss his bad jokes and evil puns), he is a very creative fellow. He's even figured out how to turn the project into a way to defray the yearly taxes he pays the state with his gas fuel to electric conversion. Like I said, he's creative. He's also pretty amazing. I wonder if he gets stalled when contemplating a new project. I'll have to ask.

The point is the creative process isn't all beer and skittles. Sometimes it's hard work and can tax the limits of creativity, but it's always worth it. Whether it's learning to sew to make your own backpack, battling colonies of deep rooted and tenacious thistle or writing an essay or story based on an editorial theme, the creative process can be a struggle. That's when it's time to stop struggling and find something else to do for a while because the answer will come to you, and when it comes it's bound to bring friends.

That is all. Disperse.

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