“I honestly don’t know how people without any creative outlet make it through life without going totally insane.” – Christi G.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time– because I feel like I’ve lacked one lately.
Even though I’ve been blogging for almost three years. Even though I’ve been writing (and publishing) poetry for well over a decade now. Even though I spent my entire childhood participating in choral groups and performing in musicals.
Here’s an excerpt from something I wrote in my private journal a few months ago (yes, I have one of those, too– and have been keeping one since elementary school).
I’ve been thinking a lot about creative outlets. For a long time, poetry was mine. And then I blogged for a while, but I’m not that into it these days, namely because I most of what I have to say relies on the experiences of people I know, and whenever I try to write about those things, my message gets buried beneath my efforts to keep people anonymous. I tried my hand at making a zine, and will likely make another some day– but not until I figure out a more efficient way of going about it; my problem with it is that by the time the zine is printed, I feel as if what I’ve written in it is old news. That’s probably just because of the influence of the Internet, though– which is something I’d like to back away from for a bit.
I may just have to be content with keeping a journal like this for a while until I figure out what’s next. I don’t know why I’ve never considered this to be an acceptable outlet– maybe it’s just that this is something I do without even thinking about it. A few years ago, when I was working as an editor and struggling with the idea that creative writing might not be my passion anymore, my roommate pointed out to me, “What’s ironic about this whole experience is that you’re documenting it– writing every last bit of it down.”
I’ve been doing this for years; the earliest handwritten journal I have is from fourth grade. In the first entry (dated May 12, 1999), I wrote about how we took a field trip and even the meanest girl in class was nice to me for once. Thanks to some mild Facebook stalking, I know that she has since found Jesus, gotten married, and moved to Dallas, TX. I guess as long as I don’t wind up doing that, things will turn out okay.
The good thing is that I’m still an atheist, still single, and still live in Michigan. The bad news: even though I’ve since come up with a few great ideas, I haven’t been able to find the time enough to see them through.
I’ve found a few things online that have convinced me that I should stop waiting for free time to pop up. Because at the rate I’m going, it never will; my head is too cluttered as it is. I’m really effing busy this semester. I don’t even have time to be writing right now (which is why I’ve only posted three entries since I started this blog). There are a million other things I should be doing.
But part of feeling like a useful human being, for me, involves creating something tangible. It’s not enough for me to congratulate myself on getting through another long Tuesday; there’s nothing productive about that to me, because all Tuesdays are the same: I go to class, I go to another class, and then I go directly to work. I get home at 9:30, by which point I’m too exhausted to do anything but dick around on the Internet before falling asleep.
What prompted me to write this is a blog post that Stephanie wrote earlier this evening. I mentioned Stephanie in my very first blog post; she’s a badass, and I totally romanticize her lifestyle because she (unlike me) has made it out of the ‘burbs and is living the dream: she resides in a building that used to be a bakery, and uses the front end of it as a performance space. And she has filled that performance space with so many talented voices. I’ve visited her there, and experienced it; every time I think about it, I get overwhelmed.
But that project hasn’t come out of nowhere. She works really, really hard day in and day out, and it’s not easy. As she mentioned in her blog post, sometimes she feels like she works really hard for something that may or may not ever pay off, and it leaves her too damn tired to do anything productive with what little time she does have to herself. It reminds me of how I felt as an editor; I spent so much time working with others and helping them with their work that I stopped focusing on my own.
Our situations are obviously different. But it got me thinking. Because we all do this. We all say, “I’ll get this done when I have a break from school…” or whatever the case might be.
But I don’t think it’s about extra time. Obviously, the world doesn’t have any extra time to give us.
But despite how busy I am and how much I love most of the work I’m doing, I feel like I’m running on empty. I want to do something that’ll help me (and hopefully others as well) to feel alive and okay– something I can do a little of each day to help get me through the busy Tuesdays.
A friend of mine once made a 3-D scrapbook out of a toilet seat; she literally just glued meaningful stuff to it. I happened upon it while using her bathroom one day during a visit to her house.
I feel like I’ve reached a point where whatever form of creative expression I choose ought to be a literal physical representation of how crazy and awkward and out-of-place I feel a lot of the time. But, like that toilet seat, I want whatever I create to be surprising in a good way. How many times in your lifetime do you get to look at something seemingly mundane and say, “Whoa. That toilet seat is really fuckin’ rad,” you know?
I want to be able to look at life like that every day.