Monday, March 28, 2011


I've been hanging out in the studio recently, since my last wood engraving was finished, reading over my notes and lists of ideas, drawing in one of my sketchbooks and generally struggling to come up with my next wood engraving.  Authors call this struggle "writer's block".  Every time I had something I wanted to work on and tried it out in the sketchbook there was something about it I didn't like. This recent "dry spell" isn't new.  I've struggled through many of them before.  Sometimes the only way to solve it has been to keep at it until it works.  Occasionally an idea gets handed to me when a remark from a friend sparks an idea. Another solution that works is to just give it up and turn to a totally unrelated activity, like herding dust bunnies out of the studio or reorganizing the bookshelves or the filing cabinet.  I call this the "nest-building" solution. When the mind is on housekeeping and not on finding a solution, the solution sneaks in.  Then there are the spooky times when the idea sneaks up on me out of nowhere and I wonder, "Where the hell did that come from?"  I've had a couple of them arrive while I was in the shower, with nothing on my mind except getting the spray to remove the soap from my arm pit.

The real spooky ones arrive at night or before dawn when I'm about to start dreaming or when the last dream has ended and I'm waking.  If it's the former, I have to jump up and find a pen and paper and jot it down or it'll be gone in the morning.  If it's the latter, I have to jump up and avoid going back to sleep or it'll be gone when I wake again. There seems to be no way to control these arrivals.  They're independent and wonderfully spooky.

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