Growing up, I was often sent outside to play. To keep up with appearances, I would lace up my play shoes, and then while no one was looking, I’d sneak a book into the waistband of my hot pink bike shorts. My summer adventures always happened under the shade of a large oak tree by the creek in our backyard. Instead of swinging and running and scraping my knees, I was soaking in the stories of friends who I would never meet and places where I would never have the chance to travel.
“I could never send you to your room,” Mom remembered, “It was a reward for you.” And she was right. Everything I needed was there, my books, my multipack of gel pens, and the stationary I inherited from my late grandfather, Roscoe. I would tiptoe off to the antique secretary’s desk that belonged to my Great-Grandmother Bower and pen works of short fiction about Mr. Mouse moving to the city and the memoirs of Pocahontas. The voluntary solitude of my youth was thrilling for me, the same way that dancing to K-Ci & JoJo at a middle school dance was exciting for some of you.
Sometimes I still sneak away to quiet corners, away from the busyness and expectations that a full and spirited life demands. On too many days that I can count, it’s difficult to find the time to develop characters, and outline chapters, and jot down adjectives that give the pages life. Especially when your life, the one that lives outside the pages of your notebook, is a good one. The day jobs, the significant others, the friends, and sometimes kids, are all amazing and beautiful blessings that require your time and nurturing. But…
Liz Gilbert calls this, “Having an affair with your creativity.” Something about that idea is so powerful, because an affair is something for which people always make time. Now, I’m not suggesting that you abandon your wives or boyfriends or relationships without labels – I just want you to have a little fling with your art. Declining a lunch invitation so you can write song lyrics isn’t an act of selfishness, it’s an act of love. Having your partner clear the dishes so you can paint abstract portraits of elephants isn’t greedy, it’s giving yourself the tools to nourish the person you are at your very core.
Being a creator is a privilege, and with that privilege comes great responsibility. To make the time – five minutes here, five minutes there. It’s totally doable. Many of the world’s greatest works were created in “moments between.” Heck, I dictated most of this post into my iPhone while I drove in solitude from Pennsylvania to New York. Don’t wait for the right time, just find a time.
You can always find time for the affair of a lifetime, slinking around in quiet corners to Make Stuff – and to find the joy in these acts of creative rebellion.