Friday, January 22, 2010

From what is not there...

Shelley had an funny and interesting post last week about multitasking, which ended with a bit about making room for pausing, for dreaming, for "taking in" in your creative life. I was struck by this post because for the last few months I’ve done nothing but try to plow full steam ahead on Book Two. It’s no secret that it’s been tough. It’s a complex story and the first book, at 90,000 words, sets up a lot of things that need to be resolved. I love the book, but lately it’s felt like I’ve been running while exhaling only. I haven’t had the luxury of time to inhale. And sometimes I think that’s where the good stuff is. In the pauses.

I don’t pretend to understand the Tao Te Ching, but one chapter has always stood out as a fascinating example of how what’s “not there” is often what’s most  useful:

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside that holds what we want.
We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space that makes it livable.
Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.

Today, some inhaling!


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Beautiful words, Christy. I remember taking an art class once and being told it's the spaces between objects that an artists sees.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Man, I know what you mean! Sometimes that intake of breath is exactly what you needed and many of your problems go away.

It's like exercising, you need to breath in AND out to keep on going, as much as we want to get things done, the rhythmic approach is a far better philosophy than run, walk, breath, write, collapse.

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, what a lovely quote. Great post, Christy! We all need to be reminded to breathe from time to time.

Tina Lee said...

A very wise post. I struggle all the time with the pauses. They never seem okay and yet if I don't let myself, well, there's struggle in that too. Glad to hear your letting yourself breathe.

And I love all these ideas of emptiness and space. And what is useful. Thanks.

storyqueen said...

This is beautiful. I'm printing it, cutting it out and saving it in my journal.

Love it.


Little Ms J said...

Glad to see you taking a breath!

nanmarino said...

Great post. Beautiful words. Thanks for making me look at things in a different way.

Anonymous said...

Christy! Thought of you today and am so glad I did. Congratulations on the books!

Hardygirl said...

Such a great post!


Jennie Englund said...

This is a really good reminder.

Anjie was telling me, from WRITING DOWN THE BONES, I think, that it's paramount to an artist's survival to refill the creative cup.

How are you inhaling? What are you doing to fill your cup today?