Turning the Lights Back On

What is my creative process? How do you create something from nothing? More importantly, how do you create while turning off that inner critic, the inner editor that constantly questions whether what you’re creating is ‘right’ or ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’?

I’ve been struggling (more than that – waging a bloody war) with my creativity since the beginning of the year – hence my disappearing act from this space. (My heartfelt apologies to any regular readers, particularly my Godfather who helped ignite this rekindling of a spark the last time I saw him.) Coincidentally, (but probably not) this struggle began as I left my job as a speech writer for the Lord Mayor. Can I blame that job that I struggled with so monumentally for my ‘block’? Maybe, but for how long?

Not this long. So what’s up? My husband CJ sent me a text this morning after he left for work and I was still mooching in bed, too lazy/depressed to get up. It read:

Rise and shine my darling! It’s a lovely mellow winter day – not too cold, calming and still – in which you can gather your thoughts before the next step in work and life. Do some exercise, get a massage, and write a blog post. Sending you my love. Always yours.

How many husbands would so thoroughly understand where I’m at right now and why I didn’t want to get up? Maybe many, I don’t know, I’ve only ever had the one, but he seems pretty amazing to me. The fact that he’s so incredibly creative and gets stymied by his own inner critic too, means that he understands me more than just about anyone I know, which is fortunate really, considering he’s my husband. So here I am. Inspired by my Godfather and my husband to sit and write something, anything. So I thought I might as well write my truth, seeing I have nothing I’m working on and a massive fear of starting something new. Here I am. Me and my creative void.

So, my creative process. It was all ticking along smoothly, and then wham! It was like someone tripped a switch and the lights went out. I called an electrician, but he didn’t show and I fumbled around in the dark until I sort of just got used to it and readjusted my life to a new dimness. The thought of turning the lights back on filled me with dread. What if I could see the cracks in things? I was filled with fear. I am filled with fear. It’s nothing new. It’s the same old anathema that’s always plagued me. Lights on or off it’s always there. Thing is, why did I assume I’d be safer in the dark, where in all the best fiction, monsters lurk?

It’s time to shine the spotlight on my scourge instead of ignore its presence in my house. I have always feared my creativity, that’s an absolute in my life. And it is a part of my creative process. If I try to ignore it it paralyses me. If I face it, stare it down, it retreats just enough for me to get my fingers on the keyboard for a while. If I throw some love its way my inner critic takes a short nap and I sit in the flow of my creativity, sail downstream and ride the current all the way to the sea.

I turned the light back on. Just now. Feels good and right and frightening, like all things that are worthwhile.

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29 Comments

Filed under Art, Beauty, blogging, Criticism, Editing, Family, Fiction, Inspirational, Love, Speech Writing, Writing

29 responses to “Turning the Lights Back On

  1. PG

    WELCOME BACK!!!! Lovely to see you’ve started this blog again and faced the keyboard.

    What a gorgeous text from CJ. Glad it sparked your light again. Which never really went into darkness – I saw it, shining underneath the other “stuff”. Which I won’t call fear. No need to continue to name it, now that it’s retreated again. Love the downstream reference. A nice reminder.

    And as for this: “I have always feared my creativity, that’s an absolute in my life.” Honey, I read that as, “…up until now, that has been an absolute in my life.” Because, girlfriend, you’re back on the horse! Ride ’em, cowgirl! Shine light and ride it hard! πŸ™‚

    I look forward to more of your writing brilliance and will relish the glow of the light of your writing on me.

    xoxox

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    • Thank you PG :). And thank you for always seeing the light underneath all the other stuff that gets in the way. I thought you might dig the downstream reference ;).
      Bugs xox

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  2. Every writer (any time, any where) has known that kind of darkness. I myself lived for over eight years by flickering candlelight in a basement. But what’s immediately apparent is how filled with light and warmth you still are. It’s wonderful to have you back Simonne.

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    • Thanks Alec. You’re such a wonderful, inspiring example of a writer who came out of that basement and stood in his power and blew everyone away with his talent, persistence and success. Love it.

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  3. CJ

    Indeed, welcome back. Enjoy riding the down stream.

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  4. Yayayayay!! Welcome back. You were missed. As Alec says, it is a universal thing, I think. But like you say, that struggle is the process, or part of at least. Hellooooo!!!!

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  5. Oh, thank goodness – you’re back! What lovely support you have – and I know that can be part of the debilitating horror, too, feeling like this wonderful unflagging faith is badly misplaced – it’s an awful irony. But you’re not alone, Simonne, not even in the darkest corner where the fear so thrives. We’re all crammed in there with you, honey, everyone who writes or even just loves reading the writing of others. Terror goes with the territory, it seems. But welcome back to battle.

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  6. We’ve all been waiting Simonne. That in itself should tell you chapters!

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  7. “there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Glad to see you back, Simonne! I was just discussing with my mum the other day, the fact that almost every painting I do is a painful process, and I wonder whether it really needs to be. Filled with indecision, panic, fear (there are many ‘what if I fuck it up’ stages in every painting), and often an inability to even start because I know it won’t be like I see it in my head, I sometimes wonder whether it’s worth even trying. I wonder whether I’ve taught myself to believe that the only worthwhile paintings are the ones that are accompanied by difficulty and pain, because they’re the ones I’ve had to work really hard at, where the ‘inner critic’ has been sitting whispering in my ear the whole time, telling me it’s crap, it isn’t working, no-one will ever want it. And then there are blissful times when I boot the damned creature outside and just paint without thinking. And strangely, these are often the paintings that I myself like the most. Creativity of any form needs to ditch the inner critic often and for long periods. It has its role, but too often stops us from creating at all!

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    • This is such a good thing for me to hear Christina! That you are like the rest of us! I never see the angst in your work obviously, it all just looks so incredibly amazing. I’m trying to boot that inner critic. I think I might go and get myself some steelcaps.

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  8. Bless! Good to see you back, Simonne.

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  9. i’m relieved to find you back.

    though it may ebb and flow, your creativity is wonderful. thank you for sharing it here.

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  10. I’ve certainly missed your blogging, welcome back Simonne!

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  11. Simonne!

    ‘Tis damn good to see you! Oh yeah, I know that kind of feeling; recently scrambled back out of the pit myself! Join me in embracing the light πŸ˜€

    (It’s a slightly tricky business, but if you sort of fling your arms around a bit, you get a hold eventually! πŸ˜‰ )

    Ohh, and now that you’re here – don’t know if you remember the ‘Hamlet… In Purgatory’ piece I mentioned while back, but at any rate, it’s nearing completion and thought you might enjoy giving it a read… Interested?

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  12. What a lovely text from your husband. Any person with a grain of creativity understands this [in my humble opinion, that’s everyone!]. Glad you’re back. πŸ™‚

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  13. CJ

    That’s an awesome comment, Christina, not least because it comes from someone who seems to create beautiful works with ease (and prodigiously).

    If we could just let that inner critic appear at the end of the creative process, rather than halfway through or even (as S and I know) at the beginning, that seems like a better way.

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  14. Dawn

    What a triumphant return and what a great response. Soooo glad you found that jewel of a husband and I therefore get to spend some time with him (not often enough) also. Sent message to the aforesaid Godfather to read the blog as he is rarely home (out dancing every day/night) as I think he’d like to know what he (probably inadvertently) did. So glad you’re back honey bun. xxxxx

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  15. I was starting to worry…glad to hear you’re well and getting back into the writing πŸ™‚

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  16. The lump in my throat and the tears pushing at my eyeballs are telling me that your words have struck a chord. Thank you for sharing a little darkness. Somehow it makes things lighter.

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