I have been stewing and stewing over the short (no more than 250 words) blurb for the back cover of my novel. I wrote the novel and it is over 60,000 words, so writing 250 words about it should be walk in the park. Right? Wrong! I have been working on it for much of the past week, on and off, and I have discovered something about the creative process, or at least my creative process. It can’t be rushed. Ideas need time to percolate through my brain. I need time to do nothing, or at least appear to do nothing. I have spent much of the past week reading and puttering around the house, all the while giving occasional thoughts to the problem of the blurb. I have written tentative drafts, worked on the drafts, disliked them all, and gone back to cleaning a pond or scooping litter boxes or whatever.
And then finally, last night as I was heading off to bed, the words just popped into my head! I quickly raced back to the computer and wrote a whole new draft, from a very different starting point. Oh, it was rough, but it was so much better (in my opinion at least) than anything I’d written so far that I went to bed a happy camper. This morning I have just puttered around, coming back to re-read my draft every half hour or so, tweaking a word or phrase here and there, before doing laundry or having breakfast or tending the dogs. And I think I have something now that I can live with. As soon as I find that I have had several re-reads without any changes I will send it off to my publisher and feel very satisfied with myself.
I have done the same thing with quilting where I have just cogitated on various patterns and ideas, fabric and themes, without appearing to “go” anywhere, but suddenly it all falls into place. I am not sure if this is what Brenda Ueland means by moodling when she says, “So you see, imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering,” but it is what I think she is getting at. The subconscious keeps working on ideas even when or maybe even especially when, we relax and let our minds wander.
In our society which is very goal oriented, having down time where I am not getting anything particular done and where the day goes by with only apparently aimless puttering to show for it makes me feel as if the time has been wasted. I need to be doing, or so I tell myself, but the older I get, the more I realize that my body as well as my mind needs down time and while I can work under pressure, I can’t create under pressure. The creative process depends on having the time and the ability to moodle, and that time spent in moodling is actually very productive, as counter-intuitive as that seems. If you are interested in this concept, there is an e-course in August run by Fiona and Kaspa at Writing Our Way Home which is designed to help us find our creative process and develop the skill of moodling.
Now that my blurb is nearly done, I have quilt patterns to moodle on and then November is not that far away; I had better start moodling about my next novel so I am ready to hit the deck running when National Novel Writing Month returns. What is your creative process? How do you recharge your creative juices? Are you a moodler?
Today in the United States many are out celebrating the birth of our nation with parades, much flag waving, barbecues, fireworks, etc. The month of July contains three national holidays, Canada Day, Bastille Day and Independence Day, and marking such occasions is a part of what we as humans do.
But I would ask that we take a moment to reflect on all those who can’t or aren’t allowed to celebrate. In the United States we proclaim that all are created free and equal, but the reality has always been much different. In the beginning free and equal was only for white propertied males. Over the years the qualifications have changed so that more are included, at least at some level. But we are still far off the mark. Women are still treated as second class citizens who earn less then men. The GLBTQ (Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered/Queer) community cannot marry and in fact in many states must stay in the closet to keep a job. Children go to bed hungry every night, denied the right to food and medical care. And the list goes on and on. We still have a very long way to go to meet the ideals set forth in the United States Constitution.
And what about those who feel entitled to more than equal rights? There are wealthy people (not all, I hasten to add) who feel that they have a right not to pay their fair share of taxes. There is Corporate America which feels entitled to grab anything it wants, raping, pillaging, and plundering with wanton disregard for anything other than their own profits. And there is the mainstream media, determined that it knows what the viewing/listening/reading public needs to know and how this knowledge should be spoon fed to the masses. These are just a few of the instances of the improper distribution of rights.
The United States is far from being alone in the unequal distribution of rights. We rank 13th in most lists of countries by quality of life factors, so 12 nations are doing a better job and many others are doing a lesser job. But I would like to see this emphasis on nations and boundaries abolished. The bottom line is that our entire planet, the source of life for all creatures, is being cannibalized and each of us needs to stop and think about the health of our Mother Earth. Endangered species certainly do not have equal rights, and they too deserve them as do all species. We need to put the health of the planet above everything else, above profits, above nationalism, above so called progress. If we don’t, the planet will fight back and it will not be pretty. We are already feeling the effects of global warming and it will only get worse. We already have wars and acts of terrorism caused by the unequal distribution of rights and assets. Selfishness, be it on the individual level or the national level, will destroy us all.
As humankind becomes more “advanced,” so to speak, it seems to lose its connection to the earth and the remaining species. Humans are not more important, more intelligent, more deserving than any other species. We just think we are and we are the only species capable of carrying out mass destruction on every conceivable level. It is time that we realized that we don’t own this planet. We have no more right to live here than do the birds in the trees or the fish in the oceans. We need to work together to save all life.
So wherever you are and whenever you celebrate your nation’s glory, please remember those who can’t celebrate. As you wave your flag and cheer the parades, remember those who are missing. And together let’s see if we can’t work together to make Mother Earth our first priority so that life is better for all.