Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Only a Dune Shack

On Sunday nights I meet with a group of artists, all of us working from different backgrounds ie the visual arts, media, dance, music, cross-over hybrids. There is nevertheless a lot of commonality between us.

Most of the conversation is esoteric ie where does art come from, what makes it art, what if we don’t ever have an audience—are we still legit? The question of authenticity is one we keep coming back to.

Last night I talked about using prompts or challenges to help keep the work fresh. We can all get into a rut or become blocked because whatever it is we think we need to create might nor be happening.

Lately I’ve also been thinking about that Dune Shack I spent a week in back in May 2012. There were a lot of restriction that went with that residency. Number 1: no electricity. I didn’t even bother bringing a laptop or another kind of device because I anticipated a kind of panic watching the battery symbol drain down to a crisis red. Instead I brought several notebooks and pens. I had an iPod, but used it sparingly. I kept my phone turned off except for a 20-minute call every evening—where I had to turn and face west toward the Plymouth monument in P-town in order to get enough bars.

To say I was remote and isolated is pretty accurate. At night it was just me and the waves and a waning moon. No one would have heard me scream, I thought that a lot.

But there was also no distractions.

I often reset my brain between paragraphs and projects by playing solitaire. Okay a lot of solitaire. And, Facebook checking. And news updates. I’m sure if I were a Cub fan I’d also be checking box scores, etc. These are just a few of the activities I pursue as a buffer in between work. In reality they often eclipse the work I should be doing.

So at Thalassa there was no excuse. I woke up and read and meditated and walked and wrote and fixed a meal, ate a meal, cleaned up, and then repeated this cycle—until time for bed.

I filled notebook after notebook. It was all I had to do. A week to create or not create. It was up to me.

I know we all have reasons to postpone, put off—or else drive ourselves so hard we literally have exhausted our wells of creativity. Try a retreat. Even if you don’t have a week, but only one or two hours away. Change up your routine, rhythm. Come at your work from some other way.

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