There is something about free time. When you don’t have it you wish for it. Then you get it you don’t do any of the things you wanted to do.
Yesterday I had a very long day- one meeting to another running all over trying to keep my various commitments in order. Unfortunately (or maybe it was fortunate depending on how you look at it) all day long from the moment I woke up to the moment I sat down for dinner I was fighting the feeling of being inspired.
I had a vivid dream about this elemental tree, wood yet air, twisting and stretching toward me, solid yet not at the same time. Its arms had no hands, and woody sinews twisted down the length of them almost in the way muscles would. Its feet were rooted into the ground one minute and not the next as they dissolved and the tree began to float. Sometimes it looked more like a tree and sometimes it looked more like a man, and other times it was no more than the shadow of what it was, dissipating into the air like mist and moving about as particles on the wind.
I woke up after this dream feeling this great sense of an idea, and in a writers world one idea can mean the base of an entire story, or the spark that leads to a breakthrough on a preexisting one. Obviously I want to write the instant I wake up when I have dreams like this. However, I hate mornings.
I feel I have a fair bit of self-control. It is a trait that I’m fairly proud of. I gave up caffeine and soda, I don’t do things I don’t want to do, and I fairly regularly achieve goals. This information is all necessary for you to understand how much I truly. Hate. Mornings. Because I have tried every trick in the book to try to get myself to wake up early enough that I will have time to write if the inspiration is there. I have set two alarms. I have put my alarm on the other side of the room so I have to get up. I have created official morning goals with the promise of rewarding myself if I can achieve them for even one single week. My morning self is like a whole different person. Goals I have set with conviction the night before seem like mere suggestions to my morning self. Needless to say I wake up with barely enough time to assemble myself so that I resemble a human being before I rush out the door to work.
Because of this when I do wake up inspired, at best I have enough time to jot down a portion of what I was thinking and hope that this jogs my memory when I get home at night. At worst I don’t have any time at all and all I can do is hope I remember what I want to write about. (I almost never remember). So when I had this dream about the elemental tree dude I only had time to write ‘elemental tree’ in the notes on my phone before scurrying off to work. Luckily, this time those two words were enough.
So now I look mostly like a human and I get to work to immediately help set up our biweekly preschool program, (for which I had spent a full week boiling maple sap to make syrup by the way). I got to see some of my favorite children before I had to run to a meeting half an hour away for a conference planning committee. The whole drive there everything I saw begged to be written about.
A crow flies directly to the right of my car, slowly and casually flapping its wings as if allowing my to keep up in some race he had created in his own mind. It made me imaging life as a crow, and what a crow might do when it is bored. Endless writing material. From a crow. But I was late for the meeting I had no time to stop and write even a short little crow story.
The wind was blowing hard, the further I drove the more the sky cleared, and soon the sun was out and the clouds were white and billowy on a bright blue sky. It literally looked like a painting. All I wanted was to stop and take a picture of the beautiful day. I thought it would be perfect for a blog picture. But no, I couldn’t stop.
I had to leave the meeting early to rush to another, fighting creativity the whole way so I would be on time. I came up to a railroad crossing with a train parked just to my right, passed where the road crossed. This beautiful rusty old train placed in front of these painted white clouds on a bluebird sky, with tall golden grass blowing in the wind in its foreground. All I saw was this perfect photo. Looking at it made me feel. I can’t name the exact emotion, but it is the feeling I get when I am inspired or nostalgic. It made me think of all the things I could write. It could be a scene in a book, or a main characters memory of the last road trip with her father before he passed away, or even just a beautiful portrait painted with words.
It may not have gone anywhere at all, it might have stayed in my desk and I never would have touched it again. But writing is like digging for buried treasure. You have to remove a lot of dirt to get to the gold. Sometimes you hit gold sooner than you thought you would. Sometimes there is more dirt. Much more. And sometimes you get to the bottom and find something entirely different than you thought you would. Either way you have to dig.
I was still late. I couldn’t stop to take a picture of the train. I moved on, to my next meeting. Then back to work. Then home. And by the time I got settled all the inspiration was gone. I spent all day fighting it, wishing I had even one spare second to stop and write or take one quick picture, and then when I got home and had all the time I craved, I had no desire.
Rushing is creativity’s biggest killer. Sometimes time needs to be scheduled. I get that. Part of being an adult, a human for that matter, is having commitments. I can’t lock myself away somewhere and do whatever I want all the time. But I am going to work on making changes so that I do less rushing. Because when all this time is spent rushing, how can we focus on truly enjoying moments?