Everyday isn’t Always an Opus

We have such pressure in our society to perform.  To succeed.  To excel.  Somedays this is just not possible.  We have a hard time getting out of bed.

We have a headache, an ear ache, or a stomache ache.  Or perhaps a heart ache.  Or a hemorroid.

We approach the page or the easel with discomfort.  Where is our passion?  Where is our drive? 

Sorry.  It’s impossible to be at the top of your game one hundred percent of the time.  Sometimes you just have to show up and go through the motions.

I was reading in the Observer Book of Art about the artist Marc Quinn.  He says, “I’ll have an idea live with it for quite a long time, write it, draw it, put the drawing on the wall, then make a model.  Because every project takes a different amount of time, I have lots on the go.  Some will wither and die on the vine and others will come to fruition.  It’s a completely organic process.”

A completely organic process.  Because we are organic beings, we have to honor the process of everyday isn’t always an opus.  Just show up everyday and do what you have to do.  Soon you will have a body of work (opus) behind you.  Some of it may even turn into a magnum (great) opus.  Some will not.  Some of it will wither and die, only to be reborn in another form.  Everything is constantly recycled.

This is how it works for me:


Blogging is definitely showing up at the page for your scheduled writing appointment.  Some things will strike a chord in your readers and some things won’t.  Barbara Swafford has an excellent post about most bloggers being quitters.  Go and read it to find out about discipline and showing up at the page.


Sometimes you will show up at the page and think you are writing complete shit.  And you read this supposed shit the next day and think, “Wow, this is pretty damn good!”

Don’t trust your feelings about your writing.  Just write.


If you use a DSLR you can tell right away what is a good picture and what is not.  A DSLR is an impulsive photographer’s dream!  But then comes the task of editing all those pictures.  Time to go to Photoshop or Digital Photo Professional.  I typically have to edit 60 to 250 pictures at one time from a photo shoot.  This takes quite a bit of time cataloging and sorting out the slightly fuzzy from the excellent.  If I don’t keep up with it it could easily overwhelm me.

How do you manage your days when you feel less than optimal?  Do you worry that if your not operating at one hundred percent that your work is substandard?

Photocredit: © Ellen Wilson

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The Magic Forest

When I was young, like I am now, I used to go to the woods and see if I could see something magical.  I wanted to see a gnome, dwarf, or wiccan witch.  I was convinced, and still am, that these creatures can be found right behind a sycamore tree or under a morel mushroom.

Robert Graves wrote in his classic book, The White Goddess, that the Irish no longer believed in fairies after compulsory schooling became commonplace.

And similarly, The Romance of Lancelot du Lac spoke of the fairy queen in another incarnation as Lady of the Lake:

“The damsel who carried Lancelot to the Lake was a fay, and in those times all those women were called fays who had to do with enchantments and charms – and there were many of them then, principally in Great Britain – and knew the power and virtues of words of stones, and of herbs  Their knights were forbidden to speak their names, for fear of of betraying them to Christian persecutors.”

Barbara G. Walker

The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets


Stand still.  The trees ahead and bushes beside you

Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost. Stand still.  The forest knows

Where you are.  You must let it find you.

David Wagoner

So.  Where do you find your magic? 

Photocredit:  © Ellen Wilson

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Pouring Yourself into Purity

Tapping into the Creative

All of our deep work comes directly from our unconscious mind.  It bubbles up and pours out into many forms.  Our job is to decide what form this work will take.

I used to work in the field of natural resources, and I was involved in a program concerning groundwater.  My job was to educate people about groundwater and how to protect it.

Sometimes people like to call groundwater springwater.  It’s the same thing, but it sounds fancier.  Fancy water can be bottled.  Pick up one of your favorite bottled water brands.  It’s fancy, isn’t it?  It’s the same water you get from your faucet.  Someone is getting rich from selling simple groundwater in a bottle.

It never ceases to amaze me what people will sell.  Or buy.

Right now I’m selling you purity.  Will you buy it?  Will it solve all your problems and make you a happier person?

Yes and no.  Yes, because you will be relieved to bliss out in the great stream of your creative unconscious.  No, because once you find your voice, or have tapped into your creative well, giving it form entails hard, disciplined work.

How can you continually keep the well of your unconscious pure?

Authentically Sincere

To be true to your voice, you have to listen carefully to what comes out of your mind – you have to be authentically sincere.  The definitions, according to Websters:

au-then-tic: adj. 1 that can be believed or accepted; trustworthy; reliable

sin-cere: adj. 1 without deceit, pretense, or hyporcrisy; truthful; straightforward; honest

Darren “Daz” Cox takes up this issue in a post on his blog.  I would argue that in order to be authentic you must first be sincere.  And in order to do this you have to write out the contents of your mind, learn the light of photography, or turn your charcoal drawing of a landscape into a horse.

It is great fun spilling out all of this stuff.  You fall in love with the brush strokes of your own genius – the colt kicks of your creative mind.

In order to paint or write themselves a mind map of where they would like to be, many writers and artists take up journaling.  A journal is a great way of charting the ups and downs of your mind stuff.

And then they may get into the business of selling their work, which entails a whole new outlet of knowing their sincere selves.

Will they dissolve into hypocrisy when the marketplace rejects their authenticity?  Will they parody themselves or simply emulate others?

When you bottle yourself into any form that you wish to sell on the marketplace give yourself the freedom to fail.  I have a novel out right now making the rounds of agents and publishers, and I may never be able to sell it.

Should I quit writing?

Never be afraid to try new things and see what comes out of it.  Then you will always remain pure, fresh, and true to yourself.

But you must at first know the contents of your mind before you can guide this creative stuff into authentic shape and direction.

And if you do not intimately know the capabilities of your creative unconscious someone will come along and give you an instant recipe for wealth, fame, and happiness.

Aquafina, anyone?

Photocredit: © Ellen Wilson

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