A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at my computer, writing fitfully. I felt extremely uncomfortable, even claustrophobic. I looked around and realized that although my studio is 1,300 square feet, I was working in an area about 2 feet by 4 feet. Why? Because every other inch of space was filled with — how can I say this delicately? — every inch was filled with crap.
Bags of bubble wrap were crammed into corners. Piles of Playbills, drafts of scripts, and pages of discarded manuscripts rested on every table surface. Jars of dried up acrylic paint, tape so old it no longer peeled off the roll, and rock hard brushes littered what little shelf space I had. Chaos reigned and the creative energy was stagnant but I had been working under these self-imposed conditions for so long I’d ceased to notice.
Takes Me a While, But I Eventually Catch On
One thing I have figured out while writing this memoir is that writing a book is like running a marathon, not a sprint. I am a great sprinter — give me a 2,000 word story, even a 14,000 word one-woman show, and watch me shine — but I have a lot to learn about running a marathon (60,000 words minimum = memoir). I now know the only way I am going to cross the finish line is with discipline and order. Lots of order.
In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about his own experience with disorder.
When I lived in the back of my Chevy van, I had to dig my typewriter out from beneath layers of tire tools, dirty laundry, and moldering paperbacks. My truck was a nest, a hive, a hellhole on wheels whose sleeping surface I had to clear each night just to carve out a foxhole to snooze in.
The professional cannot live like that. He is on a mission. He will not tolerate disorder. He eliminates chaos form his world in order to banish it from his mind. He wants the carpet vacuumed and the threshold swept, so the Muse may enter and not soil her gown.
Summoning the Muse
Believe me, I need help from the Muse (and the angels and anyone else who’d like to join in), so I got to work fast. I am happy to say order is restored — thanks to advice from fellow artist and dear friend, Xima Lee Hulings, who is amazingly creative and productive because she is organized. She suggested work zones, sources for storage containers, and the dollar section at Target. My studio feels like a sanctuary and the renewed creative energy flies through the space. I’ve still got a ways to go — sorting through 10 years of files, bulging out of cabinets — but the progress is huge. My writing is beginning to flow, and oddly enough, money is starting to flow in for my creative projects as well. Can’t be a coincidence.
Plus, I found all sorts of things I forgot I had including a glue gun (complete with glue sticks), fabulous sheets of drawing paper, a book of stamps, and the directions on how to reboot my mail program when it crashes so I don’t have to make a three-hour round-trip to the nearest Apple store, which would have come in handy last month when my mail program crashed and I had to make a three-hour round-trip to the Apple store. I also found some sketches I made a couple of years ago, which reminded me how much I like to draw:
Inspired with the studio’s transformation, I started cleaning a neglected room in my house and rediscovered a new-to-me pair of shoes from a friend and a Christmas present from three years ago, a $100 gift certificate for a great restaurant. The rewards of cleaning never felt so good.
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