Sunday, August 31, 2008

Breathing room

Friday, the day before I was to leave for Chicago, was utter madness. At work there were a million tiny things to tie up before my week-long vacation began, and I had to stay late just to just to get to the most important ones. That left less time for the all of the tasks I needed to attend to at home. Suffice it to say that not everything got done.

At the airport the following day, I picked out a seat facing the window and marveled at how different everything felt. There was nothing more for me to do except sit there and wait for the plane that would carry me back to my hometown. As I stared out the window, more relaxed than I'd been in a long time, I realized there was a song going through my head: "Face in the Rain," whose lyrics I'd been writing on and off for over a year.

The thing is, I was so close to finishing. Just four little lines stood between me and completion. I'd made halfhearted attempts to write them in the last few weeks, but couldn't get into it. Now, I thought, would be a good time to try again. It wasn't like I had anything else competing for my time.

Maybe 20 minutes later, the song was done.

It's funny how something I'd struggled with before suddenly seemed so much easier. I think part of the breakthrough came because I was better able to connect with the subject matter. "Face in the Rain" is about having to be on the road, and desperately wanting to remain with the person left behind. The last lines are about anticipating the joyful reunion. Remembering my boyfriend's smile as he said goodbye to me that morning, and thinking of how it would be when I saw him again, the right words found their way to me.

The other thing that happened was that I finally had a little breathing room. I could think about the song and nothing else without feeling as though I was neglecting fifty other responsibilities.

So. The next time it seems like my creativity has dried up, I need to remember that it's temporary. As long as I keep digging, as long as I find a way to make the time I need to do it, I can still write. I am still a songwriter.

I knew this already. But somehow I have to keep learning it again and again.


Jannie Funster said...

I can certainly relate to every word of this.

I think whether we know it or not out brain is always working a song and when we stop hammering at it, it reveals itself.

I love airports!


cinderkeys said...

I've found that it's a mix of hammering at it and letting go. If I keep pounding away to no effect, it's probably because I've worn a groove in my mind, and I keep hashing over the same ideas that aren't working. If I stop thinking about it entirely, nothing happens. Leaving it alone and hammering at it later, after I can integrate some new experiences and apply them, occasionally yields good results.

I don't think your site allows comments yet, so I'll ask here: Are those stream-of-consciousness pieces you write really made up as you go along? Or do you have to think about them a lot to make them flow the way you want them to?

DeppityBob said...

It's amazing how things sit dormant in your mind, working themselves out, until the solution resolves itself almost without your own involvement. Sounds like you were too stressed for your artistic self to find the truth you needed, and once the barriers were down, the path was clear. I'm happy for you. :)

Kim Ayres said...

It's like so many things - the fear the creativity won't return can create a powerful self fulfilling prophecy. Once we are able to let go of the fear (often because we got distracted doing something else for a while) it ceases to cause the block