With the completion of my fourth manuscript, I thought to dive right in on another edit of manuscript #3 in an effort to send it off to the printers in a couple of weeks. Not much research on the next two books. Since they are Science Fiction it’s not like someone will question my expertise on how to repair a hyperdrive or the location of the High Council Chambers, even if you are a quantum physicist! Why then, the procrastination? After all, no product, no sales, and my reader base is waiting, albeit patiently, for my next story. I read earlier this week that there is a recoupment period after one completes a creative project. I liked that. It gives me a little breathing room, a cleverly disguised excuse, for why I’ve been putting off doing the required editing on 502 pages of text. I’m recovering from hours and hours of hard labor, pouring out the sequel to the manuscript that isn’t so patiently awaiting my ministrations. It has amazed me this week that the times during the day and night that I would normally be writing away, have been mysteriously filled with . . . I’m not sure what, but stuff that needed to be done. Just like finishing the manuscript. And editing #3. Maybe I just need a little down time, a chance to adjust from creating to critiquing.
On my way to the barn this morning, I noticed five homeless people. Not all together, not even in the same area. Only one had a shopping cart, another was using the crosswalk and carrying her shoes, another was wandering in the raised median of a busy road, one was pushing his bicycle loaded with his worldly possessions, and the last was sleeping on a bus bench. After quickly sending gratitude that I have a roof over my head, I began to wonder if these people chose to be without shelter. I used to volunteer at a soup kitchen downtown, and I would imagine the life stories of those who came before me, dirty, disheveled, hungry. How many were addicts? Mentally ill? Abandoned by friends and family? There is a code among the homeless, much like the one that exists in prisons, schools, the wealthy, and every other societal group. What is valued, varies. But one thing that is common, is that they are all human, their emotions the same, their experiences different. I mention this for a couple of reasons. One, because the moment after the woman passed by the front of my truck on her way from one side of the street to the other, my fingers actually itched to write it down. The details of her dress, her walk, the black stains on the bottoms of her feet, to imagine what she carried in her backpack, and where she was going, for she surely had a destination in mind. Some of you would say, “Sure, you’re a writer, you’d be interested in stuff like that.” Yes, but I’m also a counselor, and part of me wanted to help her. Mostly, I’m human, and the plight of my fellow beings interests me. That lead to building homeless shelters and helping them find jobs, raising money and making rules for those who would live there. By the time I was five miles down the road, I had it all planned out, but I know that is not my journey in this life.
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend three concerts in the past couple of weeks. From those experiences, I’ve been turned on to some new music. Having always been a fan, and even having spent years playing instruments myself, it doesn’t seem to take much to get me interested in new stuff. Off to the record store I went, and since have been blasting, and singing along with, groups that were previously unheard of. The lyrics, the melody, what the bass line is doing, how the guitar player uses his solo time, how the drummer kicks it in, the chorus, and the overall feeling of the song. I mentioned to a friend the other day that I’ve been liking this music for all the above reasons, but also for what they band has to say. Love, hate, bitterness, loneliness, angst, frustration, healing, addiction, recovery . . . maybe I’m old enough, have had experience enough with these that I can understand, empathize, with the songwriter.
What does all of this have to do with each other, or anything, for that matter? It is all creative expression. If one isn’t creating, then that part of ourselves finds other avenues. If it’s not actively creating, like writing or painting or sewing, then it is passive, like the appreciation for music or a piece in a gallery or museum. Maybe it’s a cycle. As one expresses creativity, there needs to be ways to fill the well, so to speak. And those ways can include an observation of others, of nature, of listening to music or a speech, of sketching when one usually writes, or any of myriad ways in which the senses are engaged and the self is filled up, fuel given to that part of us that drives us to create, to express.
I invite you to see if this is true in your life. Are you creating? Are you filling up with sensory experiences? Are you actively or passively expressing yourself? Or are you like me, and have to firmly keep the active expression door closed until there is a chance to rejuvenate, to catch your breath? Even though the door is closed, words and ideas are still leaking out from under and around the obstruction. Editing first, before beginning another project, is what I tell myself. But where’s the harm in writing a poem? Or two? A few of them will be posted for your reading pleasure on my web site soon www.myjoyenterprises.com To check out where I’m at on the editing road, see my Author’s Page on Facebook. My thoughts on all things are posted on Twitter. Until next week, I have an appointment with a piece of paper and an image of a homeless woman with no shoes . . .