Freedom From Expectations

Projects, projects.   I am the best at coming up with projects. The new drum I made last week sits in the corner begging for my attention. I plan to craft a design on it, lovingly adorn it with oil paint. The sewing machine gathers dust as it waits for me to settle on a new fabric to recover the chair in the living room. Three gourds, count them – not one, not two, but three! – rest on the side countertop cleaned, cut and scraped. One will be corded, a second will be painted and the third carved and stained.  The garden is again full of weeds and the patio needs sweeping.  Not to mention the stacks of books waiting to be read, the dogs that require walking, and the husband that needs feeding.

What do all these projects have in common? They are nothing more than distractions to keep me from sitting down to write.  Honestly, it’s not the actual process of writing that is difficult. It’s the constant re-writing that sends me to the brink of despair.  Not once have I met my writing expectations. When I left Chicago behind and settled myself into Aravaipa Canyon, I had the mistaken idea that I would whip out my first book in a year. In fact, I was so naïve, I actually told the owner of the ranch that I would only be there a year. One year turned into two before book one was finished. You would think I might have learned something from that experience, but no. In November 2012 I sat down to pen book number two and here I sit, one year and two months later, about to begin the third draft. Last April I whooped and hollered that I finished it until I gave it to folks to review. Their feedback sent me down the path of revision, a torturous journey through the next November. Sending it off to a professional editor was a blessing and a curse, for now I know it could be better.  So much better.  If I’m lucky, it will be finished by year end but I’m not going to hold my breath.  

 I thought I was doing it wrong. Setting myself up for failure each time I set a deadline or expectation for completion of this book, then sabotaging myself with my distraction projects.  Today I realized I needed a new approach.  Freedom from expectations.  Everything that should be done will be done and when it is supposed to be done. Today I recognized that Creativity has no concept of time. It doesn’t care if it’s a hot, blazing summer or a soft, white winter; doesn’t care if it’s a full moon or mid-day sun. You can sit staring at your computer screen, a blank canvas or a lump of clay for hours on end without a single creative thought coming to mind. Then you’re standing in a long line at the grocery store, begging for the person in front of you to hurry up because you’ve got to find the ladies room before you burst, when wham! You catch a snippet of conversation, someone drops a carton of eggs, or two lovers quarrel the next aisle over. And you have it!  Creativity doesn’t always come when you are focused and demanding. Creativity is sneaky. It appreciates a little bit of chaos, a little bit of diversity, a little bit of life, then  It comes out in a rush.

The book will get finished, the drum will be painted, and the gourds adorned. I’ll throw an old blanket over the chair and carefully tuck it in for now. Don’t ask me when. The only thing that will get done today is the chair. BUT I researched designs for the drum and found one I like.  The gourds are still sitting there but I pulled a few weeds and wrote over 1,000 words. The dogs are content after an hour walk and when my husband comes in and asks what’s for dinner, I’ll drop a hint or two about that new restaurant that opened last week. If he doesn’t bite, I’ll get creative.

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