Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Afloat in a Creative Flood

   One year ago, I languished in a drought of creative energy. This year, it seems I may drown in it. I definitely prefer the risk drowning to dehydration. 

   A blog post last October revealed my struggles with PDD--Project Deficit Disorder. I felt overwhelmed by the mundane chores of daily life--maintenance of home and body. Nothing at that time triggered the passion that turns a chore into a project. Nothing evoked the energy that gets me out of bed in the morning with anticipation. 

   But this morning, I awoke with words bouncing in my head. They pulled me upstairs with a cup of Irish Breakfast tea for an hour of creative play, fondling the thoughts that had emerged from the fertile interval between sleep and waking. The words came in the aftermath of an interview I'd done two days earlier with a most interesting person. Even in my sleep, they were prompting revisions and refinements for a first draft I'd written. I loved the energy they evoked in me, and the sense of purpose they confirmed. 

   The leap I took five months ago when I began producing a column on aging every three weeks for the local newspaper has catapulted me into a writing frenzy. Who would have thought that three weeks could pass so quickly? Another deadline on the heels of the last! Some days I wonder what I was thinking! I ask myself why on earth I agreed to this. Then I awake with words calling me, and I know the answer. Nothing quite energizes me as much as a writing project. 

   In the past month, two different writing opportunities have pulled me back into conversations started 30 years ago when I was working as a staff reporter for the daily newspaper.

   In 1982, the cloistered Carmelite nuns who live on a wooded hillside just west of Eugene allowed me and photographer Rosanne Olson to enter the private world of their monastery. We interviewed several of the nuns and wrote an article for The Register-Guard about the 25th anniversary of their establishment in Eugene. One year later, the article evolved into a feature piece in GEO, a national magazine.

   It forged a relationship of respect and trust that has linked us to these women of faith. This summer, we have been together again, exploring the changes and questions that advancing age and reduced numbers have brought to life in a rural cloister. In preparation for this return, I read the previous articles and felt anxiety tighten in my chest. Could I still match the writing I did as a fiery 40-year-old? I felt a challenge and a bit of fear. 
    Then came a phone call from a local artist who, plodding through the inevitable sorting  and discarding of saved papers and mementos that comes to all of us from time to time, had uncovered an article I wrote in 1984. She wanted to thank me, she said. It was the favorite of articles written about her during an era of artistic successes. We'd had no contact since that long-ago interview.

   "And what are you doing now?" I asked her, launching a conversation that carried me to her home two days later. I seem at this juncture to be retracing my steps, with a different pace and stride. Drawn back to people profiled in mid-life to chronicle the arc of aging. 

    I'm waking up too early these mornings, too full of words and questions.  I'm sitting too long at my computer each day. But I'm happy! No deficit this fall of projects or passion as I plunge into the swilling waters of this creative flood. Hoping to keep my head, my hands, and my computer, above the water level.

    Read my latest "Not the Retiring Type" column to discover what annoys me about the language of aging. Then take a nice walk! It's a proven resource for creativity in work and in aging! Sign up, above right, to get my occasional blog entries sent direct to your email inbox.


  1. This IS where you are, Carolyn. You are virtually bouncing with energy and enthusiasm!

    1. Yep. It's a bit of a spin sometimes, but very energizing. Yesterday it too TWO walks to keep me on the ground.

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