from 12.1.22 newsletter
After a long and challenging November, I recently spoke to a dear friend about the seeming incompatibility of creativity and the rigidity of deadlines. (That’s a fancy way of saying artists never meet deadlines)
I spent the month blanketed in the thick fog of writer’s block, beating myself up for a “lack of productivity” - yes, I used that nasty, nasty capitalist word. By mid-month, I was physically ill with burnout and anxiety. I had started November hot with a novel idea for NaNoWriMo, scripting for my sci-fi podcast Extraplanar Radio Show, a million games of catch-up planned for my Patreon fantasy series Tales from Niveen, and the seemingly infinite hoard of Submittable deadlines I had saved for the month. I was gonna PRODUCE and I was gonna kick ass doing it.
Well, I gave it good try. For one week.
Okay, less than one week.
The reality is, this is a hard time of year for me. I have no relationship with my remaining family and the holidays remind me of my dad (who is dead - for new subscribers). So, I get the ick from October 1st to January 1st and just want to nest and hide in a blanket fort until its over.
And that is totally normal, by the way.
I wrote about this at length in November, but winter is naturally a time of death, decay, and hibernation. It is a time when barren trees and hibernating fish under frozen lakes remind us of the cyclical nature of death. It must come. It must go. And it continues on like this well after each of our eyes close for the final time.
It’s fucking normal to want to stay at home, lay in bed, rest, reflect, or even wallow during the winter months. I imagine by December 31st, I will be in full mourning garb wailing at the moon on my patio each night. And that’s okay.
I will make what art I can because I want to, not because I’m trying to meet the same deadlines in winter that worked for me in summer.
“These things cannot be measured by time, a year has no meaning and ten years are nothing. To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them. It is a lesson I learn every day amid hardships I am thankful for: patience is all!” - Rainer Maria Rilke
I offer this quote as reminder that, although our time is finite and minute, our lives are art: breathing, undulating, joyous, and terrible. We are the artists: weaving a tapestry with threads of every experience and choice from birth to death. That act transcends the time it takes to get from November to December. From creation to exhibition to recognition. It transcends the urgency of the holidays, of the next deadline, of the anticipation of old age and death itself. It is a call to savor. A call to revel. To know that spring returns eventually, so there’s no rush to get through winter.
Stop and smell the decomposing leaves and snowy mud once in a while.
As always, I welcome your personal reflections and responses, so feel free to drop me a line!