Everyone who lives suffers, physically, emotionally, mentally. At least at some point in his or her life. But artists suffer pain that’s unique to us. If we are not creating, we are hurting. If we are not creating, it feels like our artist self is shriveling. I met a fellow at a party recently. He works in a combination of visual and electronic media. (Don’t ask me to explain, I haven’t actually seen his work.) He was radiating despair, a psychic pain that only artists know. His latest project had been complete for several months and he had no new ideas. He was a nice fellow with a lovely wife and child and surrounded by friends. Yet, he was lost in this valley of despond. For me, this is the absolute worst state to be in. I offered what advice I could. He already meditates, so that suggestion was not needed. I said, when this happens to me, one way I attack it is to remember a time in the past when I had a sudden flood of ideas and execution, and try to recreate the conditions that were in my life at that time. He didn’t seem convinced. When we parted, I took his hand and said, “I’ll be thinking of you.” Sometimes, maybe even most times, that’s all I can offer. I do believe that most artists eventually, somehow, find their way out of these fallow periods. I also believe that’s exactly what they are: fallow. They don’t mean we have lost our art or will never, ever have another idea again. Ideas, I believe, are like the old blues song says about street cars and men, there’s always another one coming along, even if we can’t see them coming down the dark street from a distance. I keep my eyes, my heart, my instincts, my mind always open, with hope and patience. I know there are writers out there who say they have so many ideas they could never live long enough to write them all. I’m not one of them. If you aren’t either, and for anyone else out there struggling with this issue right this minute, I’m thinking of you.
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Sisters in Crime