The scent of rain drifts in the window. A smell I love, especially after a hot day. I’ve realized over the past few nights I have started to make a nest in the bed. As evening draws in, I take comfort from blankets and pillows. Windows are open to let cool air in after a hot day (yes, I know I referenced blankets in the previous sentence - it is more about comfort than warmth). I look around me and I have a collection of things in my bed nest. A dog, either the big one or the little one, is usually at the end of the bed. I am never sure if it is for company or it is if because it is cool. Either way I am happy. Hidden somewhere in the blankets and pillows is the camera. I had taken photos earlier and I like to sit on the bed flicking through the images. Selecting, editing, learning.
Scattered in the bedding is usually a number of books. I am back to my nibble reading. Over the Christmas break reading was more of a devouring nature, where because we spent most of the time at home, my daily sense of achievement was the reading of a book. I would start the book when I woke, dipping into it throughout the day and then stubbornly finish before sleep. Bed times became very moveable during this period.
In my younger days I use to always be a solid one book at a time reader but over the years I have become a nibbler. As I look at the scattered pile* in the bed I have 5 books which I try and read a chapter each night. Some chapters are a few pages. Some chapters are more and despite best intentions are only partly read, eyes closing, becoming too heavy to continue.
I did visit an old friend during my devouring period (does anyone else consider books friends?). Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic’. I had read it many years ago during a different chapter of my life. The chapter of potential escape, of understanding that there was more to me than the current job, the wondering what if. I read it as someone reads a map at the beginning of a journey. With connection to what was written and with conviction to what was said. Her words echoed and unlocked the idea that I could do more and that I could have a creative aspect to my life. That there was something there to untap. Pages where marked. Quotes taken. Ideas opened a curiosity that I hope I never loose.
I am not sure what happened to my copy. It was past to someone who at the time I left needed it more than I. It disappeared as I thought it would into a bookshelf somewhere. Given to read in the hopes that it helps unlock potential just as it had for me.
Years pass. Big Magic returned to me after listening to a workshop for creatives. I thought it would do no harm to reread. I was feeling a bit off at the time and that I perhaps needed to reconnect to what it was that I was actually doing with my life. A second-hand copy was found. It was then read over a couple of days. Nibbled at in big chunks. It needed digesting slowly.
I want to say confidently that I am an artist but often when I do it comes out in a voice that feels smaller than it should be. I know that that this happens because of lack of confidence and I know that saying these words are new for me. After all this voice has been quiet for a number of years. It does need to warm up a bit. Reading Big Magic as an artist is different to reading it as someone who is starting think that creativity is part of them. The first read opens doors. The second read says you are through the door and you shouldn’t keep your foot holding it open. Let it shut to what was before and let what stands before you be greeted with an open heart.
I found it insightful to read about the merits of practice and regularity of practice, something I had unconsciously being doing over the past few years. I felt encourage to continue with it. I learnt that good enough is good enough. And I think most importantly that this is a creative journey. As I plan my future with this creative part of me taking more of a prominent role I realized that I need to honor the creative gift that I have. That enjoying this gift is more important than making money. A job can give me money, creative work can give quality to my life. The more I read the more I breathed deeper and I felt the quiet little voice that says I am an artist getting louder. Each day I now say in a quiet moment I am an artist. Some days the words roll of my tongue. Some days they are stuck in the back of my throat. Either way I am becoming more comfortable saying them and appreciating the wonder that is Big Magic.
As I nestle into my bed, books, dog and camera scattered amongst the bed clothes I realize this too is part of the creative journey. Taking time to nest, reflect and absorb what is happening around me. Words stretch my mind as the delicate scent of a rose wafts through the window. Big dog stretches out and nestles his head on my feet, letting out a big comfortable sigh as do I.
P.S I won’t be giving away this second copy.
*scattered pile are as follows:
“Call of the Reed Warbler” Charles Massey
“On Photography” Susan Sontag
“A Poetry Handbook” Mary Oliver
“Where I was From” Joan Didion
“Little Stories of Your Life” Laura Pashby