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Questions of Time

I think everyone faces this at some point or another, at least everyone who has some creative pursuit. Where can I find the time to do what it is that I love? I'm lucky, in that writing doesn't require a lot in terms of "extra" time. I don't need to buy materials (other than needing to replace my computer every so often). It can be done in the comfort of my own home, rather than requiring me to go to a studio or other external location. I am not forced to rely on others, because it is a solitary activity until I choose to share it. And still, I find myself struggling to find time to let the creative juices flow.

Of course, I find little windows of time, little moments here and there, sort of the way that we all find change underneath the sofa cushions. (I wouldn't be writing this now if I hadn't found such a nickel of time in my schedule.) But when we find the change in the sofa, while we might appreciate not not having to scrounge the house for bus fare or laundry money, we don't labour under the illusion that this somehow represents a fortune, the mother load. It's much the same with finding little bits of time. Sure, it's nice to take a mental breather and get those creative juices flowing, but don't kid yourself, you still need to find solid blocks of time where you can sit in front of your computer (or over your page, if you're old school) and work. Because, as with money, getting a little isn't really much more than a tease. It makes you think how much easier things would be if you were able to get more.

I feel guilty even writing this. After all, part of the reason that I don't have time is that I have a great life. I have a healthy relationship and good friends, I have wonderful, loving animal companions, I live in a city that I love and I certainly don't want for any material comforts. Each of these things takes up a certain amount of time- relationships of various sorts, caring for my family of cats, taking time to enjoy the city and working to ensure that I can continue to be able to support myself in the manner to which I have become accustomed. I don't have an argument with that. At different times I've had to do without all these things and it makes me realise that it's important to keep a balance between all of them. But I struggle to find ways to fit writing, possibly the key thing that defines me, into the mix.

Perhaps it's because it's just so easy to put off. That would imply a lack of discipline, something from which I try to overcome. There are lots of things that require my attention aside from what I've already mentioned- things like keeping the house in order, paying bills, cooking/ eating, etc. And of course, there are times when I just want to collapse and scan through the internet for things that are entertaining or sit in front of a screen and absorb something appropriately mindless and fun. Being tired has to be one of the major enemies of creativity. It,s hard to get worked up about a project when your eyelids feel like very powerful magnets, difficult to pry apart.

Another major factor, though, is because of what writing is to me: It's an activity I do by myself that gives me pleasure. It seems like those are always the things that we're supposed to put off, the kind of things that we're supposed to feel just a little bit guilty about. Even doing things that are fun are acceptable as long as they're done with other people. After all, we're supposed to be social animals. We learn that in grade school. But doing things in a sort of self-imposed solitary confinement simply because we like doing it, because we feel passionate about it is at best seen as selfish, at worst as abberant. Logically, I know that this is a load. Taking time for myself to write when I could be vacuuming does not make me a bad person (as long as the vacuuming gets done eventually). Eating something pre-packaged may not be my favourite thing, but it won't kill me (right away) and it might just give me that extra time I seem to be missing.

The problem is that guilt is a very effective programming mechanism. If you internalise the belief that you're being bad by taking that time for yourself, you're never going to feel entirely comfortable doing so. Something will always be nagging at you- the belief that there are things that need to be done that are less enjoyable, but perhaps more obvious than creative work. After all, for most of us, creative work begins and ends in our own domicile. Ultimately, that's the challenge that I need to face. There are all sorts of things that I could be doing. I just need to make sure that writing doesn't get the short shrift because, like everyone else, those things require more time than I'll ever have.


as long as you're here, why not read more?

mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there …


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…