I’m still flying on the sense of accomplishment from finishing the current draft of The Swan Harp. I can take things in stride, I don’t get upset as easily. It always amazes me how the act of creation changes my outlook on the world.
The first year we owned the pet store, I didn’t have time to do any art, and I suffered from painful physical withdrawal. I cried every day on the way in to work. When eventually I negotiated time to get back to art, even a little, my mental health improved incredibly. When I’m in the studio, or working on a story, everything is better. Actually finishing a major project floods my system with more endorphins than a pound of Godiva chocolate.
People say, “ooh, I’m going to say I knew you when” when they find out I’ve written a novel. They imagine my life as exotic and exciting. Well, perhaps it is. For weeks now I’ve spent large chunks of time in a far-away place among people who take the transformation of humans to swans as a matter of fact. I’ve been living a double life, in my own world and in Kiar’s.
I’ve been living a double life almost all my life. Art does that to you, takes you away from here-and-now, while at the same time rooting you firmly in the present. When you’re deeply involved in a work of art, there is only here and now, even though they might be a different “here” and a different “now”. (This is, I suppose, the origin of the observation, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader”.) You get sucked in and absorbed. Your life is, in a way, elongated, expanded by this absorption into another world, whether that world is made of paint or clay or words.
I know I’m very lucky to have this double life. It looks strange from the outside – or so I gather – but to me it seems absolutely normal. I’ve always told stories in my own head; I’ve frequently been woken at 3 a.m. by an impatient Muse who demands that I get up and sketch some idea out now! The first time I found out that life wasn’t like this for everyone – and I was in my thirties before it occurred to me – I wondered what other people did with their lives. How do they get that wild endorphin rush? (All right, I know at least one other way besides chocolate, but most people don’t indulge in that one in public. Also, you can make chocolate – or art – last all day.)
Anyway, I’m still flying. I expect to be flying for a few more days anyway. It’s a great payoff, and the real bonus is that this payoff comes from work that was enjoyable and absorbing and wonderful all by itself. Is this a great job, or what?