I have been neglecting my brat. Oh I keep it fed, keep it busy with ideas and lots of work. My brat returns the favor by playing along, heaving with a groan as we sit, yet again, at the keyboard while sunshine abounds outside the window, satisfied enough to be playing in the imaginary worlds of my word-works. But something is wrong lately. My head is full of dense and heavy gelatin. I can hardly move it around on my neck. I feel a little lost.
What am I talking about?
My work area is littered with materials. On the floor is a small stack of notebooks and loose papers. On my desk, more notes and my computer (and a picture of my physical muse – my s.o., shells collected from the shore, a ruler, a tape measure, pen holders). My nightstand holds a stack of books half-read, another notebook. In the air over my head swarm the ideas for revising my novel, writing the next two in the series, two or three unfinished poems, a new play, two more novels, articles . . . I am surrounded by a clutter of creativity.
The other day my s.o. suggested I take an artist’s date – something I have not been doing. I was reminded again of this important factor in the creative life by one of my colleagues in the writing milieu when she mentioned Julia Cameron, morning pages, and artist dates. Do you know about these artist dates?
According to Cameron all artists have an inner child who needs time to be recognized and celebrated, even spoiled. I’m sure psychology has identified this in other terms, but I like the brat concept. There is no scolding or training the brat to be respectable and upstanding. This brat is not destined to take part in the grown up world where it is expected to do good works for the betterment of humanity. No, this brat does all of its philanthropy through the existing adult in which it resides. This brat creates art, and it had better be given some time to play or there will be consequences.
I’m at the consequence part. My brat needs a little nature time, some over-stated praise, and maybe a nice coffee or lunch. It goes against my own serious nature to take time out for this. I don’t have time for Dionysian orgies when there is work to be done, by god. I forget my own rule that the work is never done, and that sometimes you just have to step away and play a bit. Not play, like, on the computer or the video game system. Play with the little creator inside, by doing fun, even childish things.
This is not the idle time I have written about before, either. On the artist’s date there isn’t supposed to be any work done. No dwelling on the story at hand, or the story to come, no contemplating revisions, visions, decisions. These dates are all about play of a different sort. Spoiled, bratty play.
I live, as I’ve mentioned, in a literal paradise, and my inner brat knows this. My inner brat and the dog are furthermore in conspiracy for my time. As goes the dog – in, out, in – no, out! so goes the brat. Neither of them let go, really let go of their want to play until they get it. It only lasts for a little while but, as with the dog, the well-exercised brat is more willing to come home again, plop down somewhere comfortable, and get back to being what it naturally is – in the case of the dog, a lazy sleeper. In the case of the brat, a hard working and creative energy.
There is one main caveat with the artist date, and it must be honored if the date is to be successful. You must go alone with your brat. You cannot combine this event with a date with your partner, or even by dragging the dog along. The brat demands its own attention. I suppose this fits in with the idea of the erotic muse. Relationships need their time, even those we have with ourselves.
So, I am planning to spend some brat time. I have to, because the brat holds a bevy of creative treasures for me when we get back. Greater progress with my revisions, for example, and maybe completion of the new story idea that I’ve had for two weeks now (and done nothing with). I don’t yet know what we will do, but a little money and a little excess will make the investment all worthwhile.
When we get back perhaps we’ll update you on how things went.
Meanwhile, what do y0u do for your artist dates? Do you do them at all?