Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A mind awake & thoughts on creativity as a job.

Yes, I'm typing this before it's even 5 a.m. I'm not one of those people who is only artistic after the sun goes down, as well as everyone else in the house. I'm just the opposite. My heart and brain seem to be the most optimistic BEFORE the sun comes up (these long, dark wintery days at least). So I was laying in bed this morning around 3:30 a.m. with thoughts like these...

"Oh, I could go get that bookshelf packed up to finish up the little one's room. I could also probably get a few good hours of reading those three different books in: I'd like to know more about essential oils in pregnancy...or I could always get in an extra early morning workout. Hmmm...what about coffee? It's kind of early to eat. I'd just have to have a second breakfast. What's that, baby? Second breakfast is ok with you? Dad's already at work? You're right. I should get up and do some creative work too!!" :)

And that's how it happened. As it usually does. And here I am on the couch, in a flannel quilt, curled up with my laptop writing this. As far back as I can remember, I've pretty much always been a morning person. B and I are also pretty big homebodies, which I am very thankful for. I'm thankful my husband likes and prefers being in our home, with me. So by seven thirty most nights we're usually curled up together catching up on a favorite T.V. show, reading, or (like last night) already asleep. haha I know being pregnant and tired all the time just adds to my lack of ability to stay up past 9 p.m.

But really. This is when I'm most creative. Usually 4 a.m. until noon. And then, sadly, my energy quickly starts to drop and there's just nothing I can do about this. As long as I get up and just write, read, work, organize, whatever for those 8 hours before the afternoon, I don't feel so bad about only having energy to do some laundry and cooking in the afternoon. It would be worse if I just stayed in bed until 8 or so like a normal person, because I still wouldn't have energy in the afternoon. My body just hasn't worked that way for some time now...I think my early mornings working at Starbucks messed that up. haha

I can get a whole set of poems, catch up on journal entries, write a blog, read my Bible and work on my prayer journal, get caught up on my own for fun reading, and plan dinner all before everyone else in the world wakes up. Yes, I'm one of those annoyingly happy people in the morning that B graciously has learned to deal with and usually just laugh at if her rolls over to find me wide eyed and starring at him at 7:30. But the funny thing is that because of my high energy levels in the mornings, and the early afternoon gloom that sets in, I really like to stick to my morning routine and work, so I HATE being out of the house before 10 a.m. most days. I just know I'm losing work time. haha How weird is that?

Anyways, on to other creative thoughts. Picture a whale spouting out all that water as you read this next part. It was something I was thinking about for a while the other day, and it all just kind of came out in one big breath like a whale's watery exhales. (Is that what they're even doing when that happens?) And this is still along the lines of creativity and work, so that's why I'm including it here.

"Being creative is a JOB.

A creative writer or artist is always on the clock. 

One place you can’t take commonplaces is in the shower. And unfortunately that’s where all the creative brainstorming took place today since it’s the only down time I seem to have this week. So here I am, trying to write this before my hair is even dry so I don’t forget everything I’m thinking.

Being creative really is a job. Or at least it feels that way this week. I have multiple things lined up to do each day this week, on top of a regular job, staying homeward focused, being a wifey, and staying “'reative.' I would tell you each and every thing I have on my to-do list just to make my point, but I’m trying to grumble. I truly enjoy being busy (aside from the sleepless zombie-fog I’ve been in the last few weeks). The point is simply that I’m realizing what  ajob staying and being creative is in and of itself.

I get paid to teach three year olds about Jesus, their letters, numbers, and doing arts and crafts. This job is a blessing, and I do it two days a week, on the clock from 7:30-3:30. I’m also picking up a job writing a grant for a new charter school (one of the many things on my to do list this week). Those are the things God has chosen to put in my life to help supply part of our needs at this time.

My list of unpaid jobs, ones that I think are just as meaningful and make just as much of an impact as teaching kids about Jesus can, is even longer. When I picked the Creative Writing program for my bachelor’s I KNEW I wasn’t picking it for the money. Ha! Are you kidding me? I’ve FINALLY landed my first PAID writing job where I get to do what I want to do (aside from the newspaper I worked for) and I haven’t even been able to write anything yet because the people I’m writing about are always in and out of town or country. Needless to say, I’m not in this creative business for the money. I’ve spent a lot of time asking God to use this degree and the gifts He’s given me for His glory. He has opened some awesome doors for editing with Calvary Chapel’s website, writing for Calvary Chapel magazine, editorial writing for various Christian blogs, being part of a team starting up a creative arts ministry and blog for our church, among many other things I’ve been blessed to do and add to my writing resume. I still to this day would give up blogging, being an 'artist,' any of my creative habits or projects, in a heartbeat if He asked me to. One of my favorite quotes I heard from Jesse Bryan, one of the previous art directors of Mars Hill Church, and it totally sums up how I feel about my creative call. He said, “Being an artist is NOT a higher calling than being a Christian.” To be honest, its harder for me to be creative than to not be creative since I would rather deny that God made me this way than accept it and integrate it into my life. It is so much harder to work out being the creative person I'm learning God really has made me to be in order to relate to Him and His world in a better way. It would be easier for me to go through this life ignoring any creative impulse, than acting on it, because acting on creativity turns into a job. It’s a hard thing to learn how to worship the Creator and not my creations. But God’s grace is always sufficient.

That being the case, my creative habits and life often get put on the back burner because Jesus, my ministry at home, church family, grocery shopping, next month’s school crafts, and everything else you could think of comes first.This being my first full year graduated and out of college, I’ve really had to learn to stay creatively motivated without professors, grades, and workshop friends keeping me accountable. Now I’m the one facilitating workshops, encouraging others to write and stay creative, only just managing to learn how to do so myself.

So, what do you do when you’re creative juices are completely shut down do to the looming to-do list: blog posts for The Incarnate, meet with Jesus, grow a baby in my womb, lesson plans for work, lessons plans for our first creative workshops of the semester, grow a baby in my womb,  networking to organize open mics, meet with Jesus, make dinner, meet with Jesus, meeting and exhorting brothers and sisters, grow a baby in my womb, accomplish any writing jobs I’m being paid to do, meet with Jesus, clean the bathroom…all these beings things I LOVE and WANT to do.

God has called me to be prudent and use the gifts and talents He’s given me in order to be a good steward of them. So what do I do?

Make a plan. I need to get a calendar. Make a schedule. There are so many tiny, yet necessary things that need to get done for creative writing, networking for a ministry, running part of a site, and continuing on with normal life. Simply remembering to upload a new blog post is something that needs to go on the to-do list this week. This whole process of staying organized with your creative life is a topic I am just starting to dig in to, so I’m sure you guys will hear much, much more about it in the future.  Or there any creative calendars that have worked for you guys? If so, what are they? Any other thoughts or suggestions are much appreciated!!"
Now that that's all out there in the open, I hope some of you stayed with me through this long post! ;) My tummy is officially growling at 5:20, so it's time to go start the coffee! :)

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