Creative cycle

On finding the message in the mess

On finding the message in the mess

This month has been about looking back. Not the sort of reflection that happens on the page, but the kind that has to do with checking in and taking stock.

The process of gathering specific memories and corroborating them with family and friends for my book project has been going on since February, and now that I have quite the growing information cache, I’ve needed to step back and consider it all at once. I don’t want to lose sight of what my intentions were when I started this exploration, and at the same time, I don’t want to miss opportunities to let the material point me in directions I could not have known about at the outset.

The golden hour

The golden hour

I met the photographer Sam Abell years ago when I was a summer intern at the National Geographic Society. He was giving a talk at an intern lunch that led to an invitation to dinner and a long, lovely conversation about how we make, not take, photographs. The image is absolutely in the eye of the beholder as much as the camera also allows us to capture the “truth” of a moment (it happened; here’s the proof).

After so many years, I still return to Sam’s work, a study not in golden moments but more often in the deeply saturated tones that only emerge after light fades. It feels like an apt metaphor to be looking for luminous word-images in my end-of-year reflections not just in a fiery afternoon glow but also as twilight settles. It’s not as easy to discern what’s there, but after some time, the eyes adjust. And so does the truth.

When creative tools become creative obstacles

When creative tools become creative obstacles

The flow of my dreams — the ones I’ve been working with to support my creative process — waxes and wanes, depending on how active I am in my practice when awake.

I noticed this in the last month after coming out of an intense dreaming period: multiple dreams per night, several nights per week, for nearly five months. The flood of detail was so vivid that I was almost relieved on days when a dream dissolved before I could capture it.

I can’t not write these dreams down, I told myself. But receiving so much information felt like trying to drink from a fire hose. And with so much to process during my limited work hours, I had no time left for creative action.