Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jetlag and the Creative Mind

Luckily I don’t have a job because: 1) I have a problem with authority if it doesn’t make sense in what it is demanding. 2) I wouldn’t be able to keep saying “I am going off to the states for a month, again, see ya!” 3) It takes me over a month to regain any normal kind of sleep pattern when I get back to Ireland.

I have given up trying to force myself into Irish time and people simply ask me how lagged I still am no matter how long it has been since my trip to the states – they know me well enough by now here. (It doesn’t help that late-night TV is really good on the east side of the Atlantic Ocean either.)

When I go to the states I pretty much fall into regular hours immediately. (Meaning: awake during most of the day and asleep most of the night.) No effort needed. I have heatedly argued this with several people and had several others absolutely agree with me that going west is easy and going east screws you over severely. Who’s with me here? So I tend to be a night dweller in Ireland and a day dweller in the States.

When I am working on an art project, I get most creative after midnight no matter where I am. There is an interesting and cloistered energy working when it is dark and quiet outside and you know no one is going to interrupt. When you have a creative flow going there is nothing, absolutely nothing, worse than to have the flow broken. It can be so hard to get back. It is hard to start in the first place, for me anyway.

I have a few things that have happened in my life that have subconsciously enforced this work pattern. One was an architecture design class in college. It was more about design as a concept than architecture per se’, but during that semester, I found myself working feverishly in the a.m. more and more often. It was the most demanding class I have ever taken and the most interesting. I lost 14 lbs. Another student got a divorce, and several had to drop out because of the pressure. (tears in class happened on several occasions)

I only took the class as an elective but I got into the spirit of it, got an ‘A’, and an invitation to join the Architecture Department. (which I declined…one semester of that I could handle, but no more. There was a 24-hour restaurant near the college and if you went in after 1:00 a.m. basically the only people in there were architecture students and drunk students who were hungry.) No way! ‘Ambition’ is not my middle name. The woman who got a divorce did take them up on the offer but I don’t think she stayed in the department for more than a year. Who knew you had to live like a med student to design a building?

The other thing that happened was I set up a jewelry studio in my garage a few years later (I have training in several kinds of media but was a jewelry/metal-work student when I finally got my degree) and had a neighbor who didn’t understand boundaries. How many ways can you say “Leave me alone!”? A hundred ways. A thousand. When a person thinks they are more important than your ‘little hobby’, it is devastating. I ended up hiding in my own house. I stayed out of the garage, didn’t answer the phone or door after a month of constant interruptions.

That was actually scary looking back. It was quite a while ago, but it stays with me even today. I am fiercely territorial and my time is my own now. Many people think of me as a hermit for my lack of social interactions which is fine with me. I am actually very friendly and can talk to absolutely anyone about almost anything (except sports…don’t even bring sports up), but my extroversion is by choice.

I understand completely when artists become reclusive or writers cut-off contact. Creativity is a ‘job’ for some, but for most I think it is ephemeral. It doesn’t come easily to throw yourself into a project, even when it is in your blood, if you have to think and rethink and brood and consider before you know you will spend a lot of effort on something. Once you have made the decision, it takes over your life till the particular project is done. When you are in ‘the zone’, only the pizza delivery guy is welcome.

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