A small little romp on creative rest.
The creative process follows the same pattern: the cycle of nature:Paulo Coelho
(a) Ploughing the field: as soon as the soil is turned over, oxygen penetrates into places it could not previously reach. We will thus be prepared for the miracle of inspiration. A good creator must be constantly turning over his values and must never be contented with anything he thinks he understands.
(b) Sowing: every work is the fruit of contact with life. The creative person cannot shut himself away in an ivory tower; he needs to be in touch with his fellow human being and to share his human condition.
(c) Ripeness: there comes a time when the work writes itself, freely, in the depths of the author’s soul, and before the author has even dared to make that work manifest. The creator must respect the gestation period, if he knows how to wait, the strongest plant, the one that withstood the elements, will spring strongly into life.
(d) Harvest: this is the moment when the creator brings to a conscious level everything that he sowed and allowed to ripen. Every artist knows that moment; although certain ideas are still not crystal clear, they will sort themselves out as the work progresses.
And what should one do with the fruits of the harvest? When the harvest is over, the moment comes when one must share one’s soul, without fear and without shame. That, however painful or glorious, is the artist’s mission.
I’m at the sowing season.
I actually haven’t created anything new since September — which is understandable!! This year’s Summer Hell was very packed, and I hadn’t stopped working on Alexander in addition to all the promoting and marketing and speaking I had to do for My Aunt is a Monster and TCM Volume 2, plus the stress of chores for both my masters and visa application.
At the end of it all I was sapped out of my energy.
So I very gladly embraced my Sabbatical Period (the annual 6 months of No Freelance) and fell into a nothing sort of routine. I wake up and do my necessary chores and Day Job Obligations, then I stare into space and try my best to catch up on books, comics, movies that I hadn’t had time for… until I fail and fall asleep. The cycle continues.
The past two years has been a constant assessment of how I had lived and who I had been in my 20s: the quest to conquer my workaholicism and my social anxiety, the lessons on passion and joy I had gained from The Carpet Merchant and carried into my future work, burgeoning thoughts on my body and personhood (posts incoming), and my growing disillusionment of social media culture. All this in preparation for the new phase of my life incoming – to put it plainly, my 30s.
While I am grateful to have actualised in my 20s much of what I had longed for in my teens – an unusual and privilieged position – there are still a lot of missing pieces, and plenty of baggage that were useful once and don’t serve me anymore.
Life’s flown fast and in short supply, so it’s important that I tie the loose ends and recover what I have lost as soon as possible. However I can’t do that when I am constantly harvesting, focusing on that singular subsuming task of making, making, making.
The flower blooms – for a short while.
There is a life awaiting me in my 30s that I don’t feel ready for yet. Not because of any fear of aging – I don’t have this – but because I am seeing the things I hadn’t checked off my list. Two languages, some skills, some experiences, a great big missing piece that will link all the disparate pieces of my past present future together.
Though I have wandered and gotten distracted and postponed, I am not the type to run away. So I will do my best to check as much of the list, so I can meet the 30 year old version of Myself with pride.
Even if that means drawing less.
The tree bears fruit – in short supply.
Creativity is about living just as much making. Living is a creative act – part of the process that allows good work to arise. Every thought and every apple eaten flows back into one’s self in unexplainable ways.
For a new garden, the soil must be cleared and start anew.
I read somewhere that farmers and fishermen in the olde days (and I figure, some nowadays) would spend 3 or so months actually working, and the rest of the year resting and preparing for that work – due to necessity in keeping with the easy and hard seasons. For the farmer, they sow and wait. For the fishermen, they make their nets and salt, and wait.
All of this waiting is necessary because the act of doing nothing is essential. The soil needs to rest so its nutrients can restore itself. The sea needs time for the fish to spawn, not to mention its difficult moods.
The growth of a garden cannot be willed. It must be anticipated.
I am happy to rest for as long as I need.
your philosophy on life and art work always makes me think a lot… i myself have been struggling to force myself to draw for…the past couple years, but maybe i have drained the soil of nutrients for my sowing to bear any fruit… i should let it rest more
Reimena Yee is a graphic novelist, artist and flamingo enthusiast.
She writes and illustrates quite a few webcomics and graphic novels. When not making books, she lulls away her time with essays on craft, life and experiences in the publishing industry. Some of her thoughts of art and life are rather unstructured and will evolve over time as this blog matures, as they should be.
Currently committed to being Alexander the Great's death doula. Is a nerd for all things spooky and historical.
Melbourne / Kuala Lumpur
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Australian Cartoonists Association, October