Hard knocks and creative habits.

This week has been rough balls. To quote a draft that’s hanging out in my WordPress account:

This week has already had me through the ringer and it’s only Wednesday. I won’t give too many boring, mopey details, but let’s just say that the 0:2 loss that the US suffered at the hands of Brazil at the friendly last night was probably the icing on the Anxiety and Hyperventilation Cake.

If we’re being honest here, the above is an understatement. After all, when one of your required hurdles in straightening out your financial aid is going to the state’s Federal Building, your stress levels are not at their healthiest lows. It’s definitely a great way to harsh your post-vacation mellow, which is why there is still a draft for my first Montana Tale lingering in the Drafts category instead of in front of your eyes. But fortunately, there’s a happy ending — mostly, the Fed Building and the IRS are not nearly as scary as I thought they would be and the gears are back in motion. There’s a wealth of other good things that have occurred within the past week that have kept me on the even keel, some of which were even featured in that famed draft that I keep making reference to in this post. Let me steal some of those Good Things* from there and add a few more of my own to the mix. It’ll be like giving you an actual entry!

  • I joined 20 Something Bloggers, as the little badge to the side with the link to my profile professes. So far, everyone has been too kind RE: leaving comments on my blog and the like. It said that I should invite friends, but a lot of the people that I talk to on the internet don’t usually blog and those who do… well, I don’t know, they might like to? Bueller? Bueller? Anyway, I’ll let the handful of readers I think I have from the IRLs read this and check it out of their own volition. In turn, if there’s anybody here from 20sb: hi! Welcome! I hope that my blog doesn’t (under)whelm you. I’m trying best to blog more frequently, etc. etc.; the fact that I have 3 posts this month is a miracle that I am celebrating as I type. You will find that my apologies for not updating as much as I “should” constitute at least 25% of the content on this blog. Actually, make that 30-43%, if we’re all being honest here. The rest, however, covers most of what the sidebar/”ABOUT” page is talking about, so hurrah!
  • Starting knitting again! I’m making a baby blanket for my hairdresser/magician and it’s going pretty well. A few more rows and I’ll be done with the border and starting on the ~inside~. It’s a superb apple green color! I’m also making my baby sister this cute little number and it’s coming along happily as it’s considerably speedier than a baby blanket. Also, thank god, it’s much more portable and kept me sane within the scary waits at the IRS. After that, I’m going to be making some socks with some leftover sock yarn that my mother bought ages ago and forgot she purchased and some new needles from KnitPicks. Basically, it’s one big fiber Renaissance.
  • I found a new collection of Dirty Jobs on Netflix. This is big. You have no idea.
  • I’ve also been reviving my reading practice, complete with getting through a book in a day again for the first time in… a long time! It was Big Fish. I enjoyed it. My big vacation book was The Innocents Abroad, which I enjoyed immensely despite my simplistic review to the contrary, and now I’m reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. Go figure, but this my big transition into the actual content of my blog today — after all, it’s almost the beginning of school soon, so lord knows I need to get back on track RE: ruminating on ~creative process~. I hear it’s my non-apology schtick or something.

So, this book was recommended to me by a friend whose creative opinion I value very greatly. (Not that I don’t value her other opinions, but she’s a pretty keen illustrator/animator and therefore when she recommends something of a creative bent, especially when it applies to process, I sit up and listen. Ugh, this is probably going to just dig me a greater hole, but whatever.) It was big enough of a deal that I went to the library and held it on inter-library loan. That’s right, everybody: I went the distance for this book. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. It came into the library just yesterday and I’ve spent most of the morning perusing its advice on how to become a more productive creative being. I haven’t finished it, as my Goodreads account will attest, but I’ve chewed away a decent enough chunk to give an unsolicited verdict on the book at large.

So, Tharp sells this book as a universal approach for artists — that is to say, painters, writers, dancers, and musicians alike — that are struggling with making creation a regular part of their everyday lives. Mostly, this is true, but there are aspects of the book that read painfully as if she’s talking to dancers and dancers alone. The book is rife full of exercises that I find to be particularly important (and more on that later), but there are a few that make me balk — mostly, if not exclusively, because they read as if they’re for dancers only. I’m thinking of the Egg exercise especially, wherein Tharp instructs you to go into the fetal position and to take delight in whatever movement you create from that. Although I am belatedly realizing that I could apply this to my work as a figural painter (and yes, maybe some abstract work too), I’m failing to see how this could help a writer or musician. Furthermore, for someone who was an art history major, the way that Tharp talks about painting as a process makes me cringe sometimes. There’s also a self-satisfaction in her tone about talking that grates against my delicate sensibilities. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a mere twenty-three to her sixty-nine, but between the name-dropping (Maurice Sendak is my bff!!!1) and the way she talks about her successes and how you too can get there, I groan sometimes. Granted, I get it: she’s an insanely popular and successful choreographer that has decades of experiences that I can only imagine at this juncture in my life, but I think what bothers me about her occasional narcissism is that she’s supposed to be appealing to the everyperson who is trying to become creative too. That and she advocates temper tantrums at one juncture. Temper tantrums. Really? Maybe it’s just me, but anger never gets me anywhere. But whatever.

That being said, there is a great deal of good in this book. Her chapter on “The Box” is invaluable, because it appeals to that OCD organizer in me, as well as the part of me that needs (and loves) to do more research in order to make good work. As many past articles will opine in this blog, I frequently ache for a way to use my sketchbook that makes sense to me — and said chapter made oodles of noodles of sense! She also makes excellent points about what are cornerstones for creative prowess, involving memories, metaphor, and — yes — hard work. There is one questionnaire in particular that I think would be very valuable to anyone who wonders where their art may be coming from or what have you and I think I’m going to make it a series next week, knock on wood! I’m thinking about posting it on one of the 20sb groups next week, so we’ll see how that goes.

But first: taking back my weekend by posting two of my largest Montana stories. Because real girls post on their blogs on the weekends, damnit.


* No Martha.
  1. I wonder if there is a teen version of 20sb?

    • That’s a really good question! So far, Google isn’t giving me much fruit though; although there’s been mention of a category on Bloggapedia (which, to be honest, I haven’t heard of until this search), there doesn’t seem to be a lot of community/discussion showing up there. That being said, 20sb did start at Ning.com, which is great for do-it-yourself social networks! This also seems to be lacking in a teen blogging community (second hit: The Twilight Saga, which offends my delicate sensibilities for the teens that maybe [just maybe!] don’t like Twilight), but this may merely be a case of carpe diem. If you build it, they will come?

      • I don’t like Twilight, actually!

      • See, and the fact that Ning’s search algorithm assumes these things with “teen blog” as search keywords makes me go :(.

    • … strike that, as it looks as if you have to pay to make one of the networks. Alas! I hope something comes about soon. :\

      • I don’t think you have to pay for ning, but maybe they’ve changed it.

      • I fully admit that I haven’t done a great deal of invasive research, but I was given that impression. Impressions and the truth, naturally, are two very different things.

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