Then I stopped. Took a deep breath. And remembered that for the past year, I have been on a quest to define my own creative process. Quitting the job and moving to the west coast was a leap of faith. Waking up every morning and confronting the stacks of music, the blank pages in the notebooks, the silent 'ukulele... I had to figure out HOW I was going to make this whole thing work. I had to look at myself in an extremely critical mirror. WHO am I? WHAT is it that I hope to do? The kids are confronted with these same questions. All artists are.
Are there other jobs that constantly ask these questions? Do those that arrive at the same office every day for 40 years constantly redefine themselves?
I told the kids about some of my sources for creative inspiration. How-to books that suggest one person's "method." Biographies and autobiographies of artists in many genres... how did they do it? How did they get by in this wacky world? Quotes. Movies. Songs. Especially the songs that get me out of bed each and every morning. I'd be lost without them.
And as I spoke to the kids, I realized that I was also speaking to me! I needed to hear my own words. I needed to fall in love with the process all over again. Like a recommitment ceremony where a couple renews their wedding vows, I found myself recommitting to the process and this journey all over again. For better or worse.
Their eyes flashed. Recognition. They are not alone on this path. I am not alone on this path. We are all in this together.
Writing with the BAMFs last Thursday reminded me of how much I LOVE THE PROCESS of putting a pen to paper. Of watching where the story leads me without my editor mind trying to control the whole process. Of being surprised. Of being delighted with a few small phrases. It's magical!
Singing Hawaiian songs and watching people's faces smile. That look of relaxation that comes over the muscles of the face. The way their mouths relax and slightly open--a smile and laugh ready and waiting. Sharing stories of my crazy times in the islands as the ultimate "outsider" who gets himself into ridiculous predicaments. Gosh... What a wonderful journey!
And now that I'm back in the Big Apple, I'm inspired. Inspired to pick up my 'ukulele and learn new songs. Inspired to open up my notebook, pen in hand, and confront the blank page again. Inspired to try my hands at new ways to express myself, too!
I love this feeling. And I need to blog about it so that 6 months from now, when I'm feeling like I have no idea where I'm going and what I'm doing, I'll be able to read this and remember it.
(originally published on Monday, July 27, 2009)