Sunday, 27 December 2015

The bigger picture

Spiced cookies

Dealing with the writing rejection nudged me back towards other forms of creativity. I feel like I have gotten back in touch with myself as a maker. I have been reminded of the breadth of my creativity. Yes I write, but I also take photos, bake, sew, cook, decorate, knit and garden. I need a bit of it all these things to feel whole and happy. They feed different aspects of my creative soul.

On theme

For Halloween I cooked up a storm – a savoury pumpkin salad, a sunset fruit salad and orange and purple jellies for the kids. My nieces drew faces on yellow peppers and I carved out jagged faces. We put tea lights inside and wow, so pretty Thank you to Mr Google for the suggestion! I helped with the zombie face painting.

Felt creations

For Christmas it all started with the cookie cutters. First I baked spices shortbread bells and trees. Then I went back for angels, reindeer and stars to use as templates for felt shapes to stick onto Santa sacks with a friend’s kids. I glued the leftover shapes onto some ribbons and hung them on my bookshelves. I decorated my tree – a small rosemary bush with ribbons and small silver bells.

Following a creative path
I have been reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. I have been heartened by the advice to do it because you enjoy it, do it because you need to do it and don’t do it because you are worried about success. The effort brings its own rewards, the old adage of enjoying the journey not focusing on the destination. All I need to do is keep faith with my creative self and just do it.

I am creative and I need to get back to the central business of making things – not worrying about the selling, spruiking or success of my efforts. It is the process of making which gives me delight – being absorbed in colors, the fall of light, the smell of a cake baking, the texture of fabrics and wool, getting my ideas down on paper – it is all coming from the same well.

With lemon mayonaise

And all this can only be good for my writing. As Maya Angelou said “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” So rather than dismissing my recent foray into baking and decorating as procrastination I want to welcome it with open arms because it is all creativity and that is what I am about. Turning up is still the most important thing – whether it is on the page, in the kitchen or at Lincraft – nothing will get done if I don’t turn up.

Will it prove to be a distraction from the main game of writing? Who knows, does it matter? Right now it is helping me get back on track, if it persists perhaps. But maybe I should just relax and accept the journey I am on and have some faith – faith in the path, faith in myself. I know it will be interesting and that it will be somewhere different from where I am today. That’s enough…

Full circle

Final touches

I feel like I have come round to the beginning again on my Hardcopy journey. The final session was in Canberra a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t there. I hadn’t made the cut and yes it still hurts, but there are some hidden jewels. I booked another course for that same weekend, Traditional French Pastry, because I wanted to be absorbed in something of my own – not longing to be somewhere else, doing something else.

And I got to eat the results!

And it worked in so many wonderful ways. I mixed ingredients, I kneaded dough and I rolled pastry. I made croissants, brioches and puff pastry treats. I relaxed into a world that I don’t visit very often anymore. The smell of yeasty dough brought back clear memories of making bread with my mum as a kid. I know how to knead and roll – long forgotten skills. I now have the strength and I thoroughly enjoyed the physicality of it all.

Three types of brioche
What started out as a diversion has brought so much more. It has reawakened my sense of smell, taste and touch – all the senses which are not involved in telling or hearing stories. Is it an antidote or a complement to my writing then? I’m actually not going to worry about categorising it, it is what it is. It is still creative living and is satisfying a whole different part of my creative soul.

Pausing for a moment

As for my writing, at some point the penny dropped and I realised that with or without my inclusion in the final Hardcopy session I would still be in the same position I am now – in possession of a partly written manuscript. Yes I would have received more feedback on my writing style and my proposal – some of which may well have been conflicting given the feedback from the others who were there. But I still wouldn’t have a whole manuscript. I would still be sitting here wondering how to construct the next scene, revising my pitch and trying to find time to write.

Obstacle, challenge, opportunity...
Instead I have been dealing with this bump in the road, this blow to my confidence, this crisis of commitment, this loss of motivation. I have learnt more from being rejected than I could have done by being successful. Of course I want the book to be a success, but it can’t be a success until it is written. I need to write my book and then worry about everything else.

No one is going to publish an unknown author on the basis of a pitch. I need a full manuscript before the book and I will be taken seriously. I am not a social media phenomenon nor am I famous – so no immediate audience there. I am neither a journalist nor an academic – so no relevant track record to rely on. So I need to sell my project – not the idea of it and not my capacity to do it. I need to have the project ready to go. And that’s where I imagine I would be if I had attended the final session – essentially in the same place that I am now.