I’ve got The Funk. The P-Funk, even. No, no, not the George Clinton kind. The “I don’t want to get out of bed/uninspired/I suck at life” kind. I know that being of a particular creative bend means struggling with melancholy from time to time. I’ve known this since I was a moody child who couldn’t get the right color to mix from her grocery store watercolors, and even more when at 16 or 17 I couldn’t be bothered to do anything when I got home from school but sleep from Jem to dinner. I remember my mom asking me if I was depressed and letting out a half-assed shrug. Naturally.
I also know that I have work to do. I have three design projects staring me down, two of them paying. I’ve not started any of them, or I should say that I have started, stepped back, realized they had no soul and were completely phoned in, then scrapped them. I sit and stare at my blank Illustrator palette like Penelope staring at the sea, waiting for… something. Except instead of horny suitors behind me, I have pent-up creativity banging at the gate because it can’t get past the sleeping guard dogs. And I’m just sitting on the couch, listening to it, paralyzed. I write, I take walks, I think, I sketch, yet nothing comes. I’ve never been here for so long before, and it’s starting to scare me a little.
When I was a kid, my biggest beef in life was being copied (pardon the narcissism). You know those desks we had where the lid flips up with only a 3″ strip of wood at the top where the hinge is, on which to shove everything you don’t want sliding onto the floor? Stupid design. Anyway, I decided one day to make little paper pockets for my pens, pencils, erasers, ruler, whatever, and tape them to the lid so when I opened the desk, everything stayed put. I returned after recess or the next day or whatever only to find a few of my classmates had made them for their desks, too. Now, as an adult, I realize that I had the mind of an inventor and probably didn’t actually want to keep it to myself, but as a kid, I was supremely irritated that they copied me. It happened a lot whether in doodling subject matter, music, whatever… how bratty to see it in print now. Now, I don’t care. Well, I mean, I care a little. If you compliment me on my shoes and I tell you where I got them, I better not see them on your feet the next week (I stopped telling people where I got things years ago if the things were still available for purchase and I actually cared – I know. Jerk move. I told you). As such, I never went to anyone for inspiration. Be it other designers, artists, painters, writers. I got it into my head that it should come from within, not without. Yes, we all know that everything comes from something and there is nothing new under the sun, but I took it far when I was a kid and pretended no one else was producing and therefore, I couldn’t be tempted to copy them. Sometimes it just happens, that doesn’t count, but now I am struggling.
Inspiration feels so far away. If I’m honest, it feels like it’s left me completely. That part of my brain has gone dark and I cannot seem to wake it up. Sometimes doing art of another sort works, at least it has in the past. If I can’t draw, I sew. If I can’t design, I write. But here I am, writing, and I’m no closer to design ideas. I find myself wondering what else is going on that is muddying up the signal. Yes, HUGE change of life situation. PMS? Probably. Too poor to eat my feelings? Definitely. A general disinterest for the project that is most pressing? Absolutely. I’ve headed in the wrong direction with one assignment at least twice and I’m likely on the third false start. Friends are sending encouragement and design websites, which if I’m honest just delays my progress even more.
Perhaps I need to give in to the freeze. At some point, wrestling with a thing that’s cemented into the ground becomes quite obviously, very stupid and terribly exhausting. Maybe this sunny, 72 degree day just wants to be walked around in and enjoyed.