Thursday, May 6, 2010

Total Chaos or Creative Storm?

For the last few days I've been so scattered I could cry.  Really.  My writing room is a mess, my ideas are coming in too fast and furious, art projects are spilling out the door, my goals seem insurmountable, I owe dozens of return e-mails, and I'd rather be sleeping.  In other words, it's nearly that wonderful midway point of the year when I look at my creative life and wonder why on earth I ever wanted to do any of this.  Except that it's so much a part of me now I can't imagine any other way of living or being.

Two days ago while I was listening to possible music tracks for my upcoming book trailers (more projects, more goals) and staring at the chaos on my writing desk, something very weird happened outside my open window.  Three feet away on my patio a beautiful white and brown hawk swooped down and killed a dove.  I don't think I could have been more stunned if it had sailed right through my window and landed on my lap.  For several surreal minutes afterward the hawk and I sized each other up, the deceased dove between us.  I was too frightened to move; the hawk seemed to be rather proud of itself, showing me the undersides of its wings a lot and making quite a few victory noises.  A ridiculous part of me wondered if the hawk would next come inside the house in search of another snack (I had a wild parrot do that once).  My curiosity, on the other hand, wanted it to stay in place so I could keep watching this beautiful and ferocious bird that had somehow managed to infiltrate my small, inner-city backyard.  I mean, this is downtown Albuquerque, not a PBS nature program!  Eventually, though, the hawk decided I was far too insignificant for further conversation.  It marched toward the dove, picked it up in its talons, and flew off in an elegant and eerie departure skimming the treetops.  Just thinking about it now still gives me the shivers.

In her book, The Secret Language of Signs, one of my favorite nonfiction authors, Denise Linn, writes that seeing hawk imagery refers to the need to focus on your goals and to go after them with powerful single-mindedness.  Wow.  I didn't think I needed to be hit over the head that hard.  After I posted my woes on Twitter, blogger Kathleen Nolan at A Longer Letter Later  suggested that what I saw as the chaos in my life just might be a "creative storm."  I like that; it makes me think of the kind of storms we get here in Albquerque--torrential rain hitting parched earth, followed by a magnificent flowering of  every twig in sight.  Paired with all that rain and thunder I can easily imagine the hawk as my guide to the eye of the hurricane, helping me to see my goals in a "single-minded and powerful way" no matter the tempest around me.

Last night I made a list of what I hope to accomplish by the end of the summer:
  • Line edits and revisions for my upcoming fantasy novel, Overtaken.
  • Book trailers for 2 of my other books as well as for Overtaken.
  • Get the "Look Inside the Book" feature in place for the same 3 books on
  • Fully transcribe the hand-written draft of my new nonfiction manuscript.
  • Remember to set aside my weekends for artwork:  collage, pottery, watercolor, or drawing.
  • Re-commit to a daily practice of writing morning pages.
When I wrote out my list, it all seemed very do-able.  And calming.  I think I may actually get through the rest of the year with some much-improved focus.  Now to clean up my room.  Even signs and wonders can use a little dusting.

Tip of the Day:  What symbols, imagery, or metaphors are guiding you toward your creative goals?  Brainstorm a list of associations; the messages may surprise you.  (And don't forget to check out Kathleen's great blog A Longer Letter Later.  Thanks for the input, Kathleen.) 


Arnold said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Julie said...

When I first saw the title of your post on Twitter, it peaked my interest. This is what I had been feeling lately as well in my own life. I enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and it has been helpful to me. I still have a lot of chaos right now but I feel creatively that I now have somewhere to go, to be and to do with that energy. I will re-evaluate and put into focus what it is I'd like to accomplish. Perhaps, that's how I'll get going!

Theresa said...

I just hit the wall the other day, so to speak really no signs such as yours yet. But that feeling of overwhelm and disarray. So I started cleaning and organizing, still much to do but making stride. I almost felt as if I clear the way I will open myself up to starting and finishing more, focusing and a list such as yours to get me through. Thanks for sharing your lovely story. ~ Theresa