Aside from a couple of small, gifty projects I haven't worked in my studio since the Red Thread Retreat. If my feet were smaller I'd probably have made more progress on the re-purposed shoe boxes, but there are still four weeks until Christmas. I'm not sure whether it's taking care of sick children, too much on the list, the crush of cold weather on my arthritis, or all of the above. I do know that the more I try to control or balance obligations the more frustrated and impatient I become. And still no finished boxes. And I still can't decide if time away from the studio is simply that, or if triggers a germination of sorts.
An examination of the inner-workings of the creative process often isn't pretty; for me anyway, it's scattered and messy. Preparing pumpkins for Thanksgiving pies seemed an apt metaphor, a labor that involves guts and sorting, scraping away the pulp and seeds, which have their own use, then setting aside the leftover baked shells. I think properly baked pumpkins yield the best-tasting pie and while time-consuming, are always more than worth the effort.
Early on, things can look, well, stringy and jumbled. The secret to getting the spicy, savory results is in holding on to the knowing that it is process and will evolve with a life of its own. Listening to the muse, being open to the universe, "trusting the soup" as Steven Pressfield says in his dynamic tome, Do The Work, are all means to remaining somewhat patient during the sometimes long periods of time when there is no finished product, business model, end result.
I've been making the annual pies for decades but it has only been recently that I realized how little faith I've placed in my own metaphor. Often unwieldy and not resembling what I'd envisioned, I have spent my years dabbling in various endeavors - writing, photography, art - along with a somewhat successful career running a small creative business. It has often felt that each discipline has been an isolated effort to reach the one aha moment that makes the rest of the journey wide-open, easy to navigate, safe maybe? At this age I have plenty of journey left, though I've pretty much stopped wondering what I'll "be" if and when I grow up. The hobbies and passions I've pursued have all been creative and rather than feeling like a dabbler, I realize that each facet - a photograph, haiku, paintbrush - enhances art making. And the disciplines that at times feel separate are the inner-workings of one creative life. I'm not certain the pumpkin analogy is still working for me here... except for the part about the dozens of seeds tucked inside, ideas and hopes and plans for creative days ahead.