house of cards

Work and Art, Life and Creativity (#343)

Disclaimer:  The below I wrote this week.  It was at night.  A particular night where I felt extremely tired, but had to write anyway.  I’m currently adjusting to my new schedule and trying to finish out my 365 consecutive posts quest.  At the same time, I’m reading Robert Rodriguez’s “Rebel Without A Crew” – Or How a 23 Year Old Flimmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player.  The book, my new schedule, my new dayjob, and my absolute need to keep creating things on my own – are the subjects that are taking up my mental head space right now.  Through that lens, you get the below mishmash of thought.  Again, no need to feel bad for me.  Everything is good in Momma’s ‘hood.  But, nonetheless, I think the below thought process might be interesting for my fellow writers and artists out there.  As always, I’d love to know what you think.


I’m lying here as a gentle wine haze washes over me.  I’m grateful for that wine haze because I need a rest.  Different things are flashing through my head – I’m thinking about my puppy who keeps howling with uncertainty.  “Is she going to bed?  I can hear the keys.  The typing.  That’s not usual at night,” the puppy must think.  And then there’s my second, older, dog who perks up when the puppy howls to ask a question.


It’s a delicate state of dominoes – the quiet of right now.




I just started a sentence with “And” earlier and I’m reminded of the boss who often reminds me that he’s an English major.  He tells me what drives him crazy about the English language and the misuse of it.  He’s a workhorse.  I admire that because I’m a workhorse too.  Yet, I wonder if it matters when you’re a workhorse on a lower tier and running in a side pasture while others (the same age as you) have already worked their way towards the Triple Crown and are now running that course.  It makes me think there’s some sort of non-stop competition happening in life, until you die.  Your only real choice is – do you take a number and race at all or stay on the sidelines and enjoy a beer while the schmucks tire themselves out?


I shift in and out of thought and I wonder what people truly want.  Do they want helpers (read: slaves) or do they care about the quality of life that other people have?  Maybe that’s not their concern and maybe it shouldn’t be.  Maybe you should only care about what’s close enough to hug.  No, that’s silly.  I don’t believe that.  At least it wouldn’t work for me.  I care about a great deal more than that.  Right?  Right?!  Hmm, maybe I only care about hugs.  Maybe I shouldn’t try to convince myself otherwise.


I shift again and I’m thinking about Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Facebook.  I’m thinking about her new literary offering, “Lean In” where Sheryl talks about women in the workforce and Colin Powell.  Colin Powell, who I have always liked despite his conservative leanings, apparently favors quality over quantity when it comes to work.  Here’s what he means.  Note: I’m paraphrasing Mr. Powell, as I remember hearing it:


“There are times that I know something MUST be done.  And it must be done now.  So, I expect my employees to work around the clock.  But, when that time is over, I want them to put in regular hours.  9 to 5 hours…because I want them to go home and play with the kids.  Read a novel.  Have a life.  If they do this, they will come back to me with a different quality of thought.”


colin powell


Actually, I’m going to take credit for the phrase, “quality of thought” because I’m pretty sure Powell didn’t say that.  I was left with that sentiment though and -really- that’s what I’m craving right now, at this moment – quality of thought.  I’m not sure how I’ll get that within my new life unbalance.  Yet, I know it’s important.  To create, it’s important to rest.  To make new, it’s important to re-new.


Have you ever written and re-written only to think, “That was shit.  I’ll need to write some more.  If I write some more, I’ll have it.  I’ll get through the shit.”  I had a moment like that the other night and Wifesy said to me, “You’re reminding me of when I studied for Vet school.  There was a point that I would hit where everything thereafter would be shit.  I knew at that point, I had to rest.  I had to put it away and in the morning I’d be better.  I had hit my maximum capacity.”


I put the writing down and I revisited the project in the morning.  She was right.  Very right.


Still, I wonder how anyone manages a day job, a life with a partner, a creative pursuit, and -god forbid- children.  I wonder how anyone does all of that WELL, even a little bit.


No need to pity me, my friends.  I am more than alright.  I simply love purging my unfiltered thoughts here for you all to turn over.  I’ll figure it all out in the end.


What about you?  Find it hard to balance the day job AND the creativity?



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house of cards, colin-powell, dominoes


36 thoughts on “Work and Art, Life and Creativity (#343)

  1. I’m going through a desert period with my work so I’m contemplating going a more normal route, that day job thing you’re talking about, IF I can find it. I don’t know what the answer is, becks. I think some of us peak older. We’ve all heard the cliche phrases and for awhile it makes me feel better. But I’m on some kind of journey where I going toward what I’ve been saying I want for decades. I think we just have to listen to our inner selves and soldier on. We know when we’re in something we don’t feel good about. Mental, emotional and physical uncomfortable-ness manifests itself in all kinds of ways! But I do think creativity is necessary and however we can manage it, manage it we must.

    P.S. Lovely writing btw, even in your soft wine haze. AND, I don’t care what the English major guy says, it’s okay to begin a sentence with and. I do it all the time. ;).

    1. Lol. I adore you, Bridges. You always make me feel better about breaking those pesky ‘rules.’ and i’m with you. I don’t know what is going to come out of this unbalanced work, life, creation, period. but, i’m betting something will and in the end, the ship will right itself. my current problem is the dayjob is a little more than the hours specified, but i’m hoping that’s just a run up to organized thing that’s happening. we shall see. as always, i love seeing you here. xooxox, sm

  2. Thank for this. And yes I do struggle to find a balance. I work in a hghly creative industry, but balancing creativity on demand with creativity for pleasure is hard indeed.

    1. such a good point, victoria. and one i think about all the time. it’s very difficult to expend all your creativity for pay and still have some left for your own creative work. in the end, i think it’s the ‘personal’ creative work that can really lead to advancement, but something’s gotta pay the bills too. it’s a high wire act, that’s for sure. but, stay strong. it’s worth it, for both of us. i hope! 😉 xo, sm

      1. It better be worth it! I work well (at work) to a deadline and a tight brief, but for some reason can’t finish the book project I set myself. I think it is because hte work stuff is seperate to me and the personal stuff I take too personally.

      2. i totally, totally understand that. you just might feel tapped out too. i know this sounds crazy, but have you ever thought of taking a ‘working vacation’? literally take a weekend or a few days off from work, go somewhere, completely unplug and work on your personal stuff? a friend of mine did it for his book and i’m seriously considering it for my next project. the woman who wrote ‘the help’ – same thing. she’d get the hubby to watch the kids and head to a hotel for the weekend. not kidding. writing is such a solitary thing. being completely alone with our thoughts, with no distractions, is something that really can’t be undervalued…

      3. i see nothing wrong with it. writer’s NEED that solitude. i may have to escape from the dogs, my wifesy (who i adore), my job, and my apt soon just to get some original writing done. i can’t even imagine adding kids to that equation…

  3. Hello Sweet Mother 🙂 Finding a balance…I’m currently trying to find one again as there are lots of changes and opportunities and my mind is restless. I know that when the balance is there, it will only be balanced until a change occurs again. I used to balance college and creativity and a part-time job, then college was scratched and my art career became both my job and my fun. I have a lot of responsibilities on the side and there are days where these responsibilities take up all my time, which really sucks. But the most important thing is to keep on moving right? I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and if you listen to your inner self you know what you have to do and all works out eventually. AND it will be worth it. (look I started the sentence with and hehe)

    Really loved this post!

    1. tj, how right you are. i loved this…’i know that when balance is there it will only be until change occurs again…’ how true, how true. so, i suppose i’m experiencing an adjustment period and figuring out how to manage it all… but, like you said, i think the trick it to keep moving and keep doing. you may have enjoyed the post, but i also enjoyed your commentary. 😉 sm

  4. Balance? What is this strange word you speak of, Miss Donohue?

    When I had a standard 9-5 (though I never worked that shift, oddly), I took no time for my creative works. I would just finish my shift (throw in some OT when I could get it), and head home to read, or veg out in front of the boobtube.

    Now, I’ve got one novel finished, a second halfway finished (in pieces, but still), a third (lmao) 1/3 of the way complete, the notes for a 4th (I don’t usually do notes), my blog, counselling my friends, and my blog. Oh, yeah: I also post comments on other people’s blogs. 😀

      1. A lot more time. I’ve been unable to find anything. 😥 I’ve put in almost 2K applications online. I miss the days of paper ones: Then I could start talking with potential hire-ers & maybe end up with one within a week of starting.

  5. It has always been my contention that working with your head is more draining than digging ditches. I am blown away by the amount of work you do, which leads me to wonder why you go at it so hard. What’s really in that pot at the end of your rainbow? What will happen, how will you react when you reach it? Life is a balancing act, hon. AND, I too hate the way the current crop of graduates start their sentences, but I remember reading something last week that said the new dictionaries and probably style guides say because it is done so much now, it is okay to lead off with “and”. AND, can you tell us what your new day job is?

    1. oh, how right you are there. working in your head IS more draining than digging ditches. i work so hard because ultimately i want a career that is on MY terms and i think for that you have to be creative and -most of the time- out work everyone else. honestly, i believe that’s part of the solution. you can get lucky, sure. but, i don’t like waiting for luck. what is it they say – genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration? well, i want to know i’ve at least put in the perspiration. slowly, i think these things ARE paying off, but i’m not fully there yet. and yes, i’ll be talking about the day job soon, but not just yet. 😉 vague enough for ya? looool. xoxo, sm

  6. balance? what is that? i tried, but decided to dump balance.- tip the scales…and from last month i tried to do EVERYTING creatively., a work in progress…mmm but i find that harder than trying to put everything into seperate compartments…. where is the win win solution?

    1. there just isn’t one, now is there, hanna? i think i’m on the same train as you. doing everything at once. will that work? of that, i’m just not sure. oh and got your other comment on doing a follow up oscar post. i’ve thought about it – hell, i’m still thinking about it- i suppose i’m just not sure what i want to say about the guy. much like lance, i find the whole murder thing disappointing at the very least – and horrifying at worst. once i find the words for it, i will put them to paper. or at least cypber paper. 😉 sm

  7. Balance is always precarious, SM, since one misplaced step will send it all teetering. The key, in my view, is to be able to flow. Embrace it all, and then see how you fit it all in. I read recently about Eugene Schwartz’s 33 minutes rule: you focus for 33 minutes, step away for a few, and come back for another 33-minute intensive. I like this approach. It lets me decide what needs my 33 minutes of focus now, and still allows me to remember other things that require attention. Kind of like cooking on the front burners and the back burners simultaneously. And, just thought I’d put that in there. As a non-native English speaker, I like to do it my way! xoxoM

    1. oh, margs, you always leave the best comments. i think there’s something to that 33 minute rule. there was also a president…roosevelt? i can’t remember which would took 20 min naps throughout the day to rest his mind. i think this is necessary. or brains and bodies can only take so much. as always, great stuff. xoxox, sm

      1. I think, SM, that we’ve been so busy partitioning our lives, we’ve forgotten how to live an integrated one. The whole of each of us is so much greater than the sum of our parts, perhaps we’ve arrived at a point where we’re becoming more conscious of that…and so many other things! xoxoM

  8. Hey there, momma! Yes, indeed it is quite hard to balance a day job and creativity. I’ve found that if I have a job that requires writing then I have to make sure it is as far from what I write personally as possible in order to ensure that I am able to stay creative for my fiction.

    All the best to you and wifesy!

    ES (formerly Tinnsie)

    P.S. Sorry for my identity crisis, I’m trying to adapt to new challenges in life.

  9. There is that spot when nothing but crap comes of my work, whether it’s writing or shooting, until I rest. I find a new day gives new perspective. Sometimes the whole premise I was working from is the problem, most times though, it’s my own state of mind – too much too fast – with no time to process and ponder.

  10. Ten years ago I’d get on a roll with my writing and I’d race back to the keyboard after dinner, desperate to keep that flow going. Nowadays I’ve had to accept that my brain is a) too old to do that any more and b) is actually more productive when I give it limits. Not such a bad thing, limits. 🙂

  11. Great post. That moment past which everything is wrong? I agree; time off helps tremendously then. Usually even a short nap helps me see things in a different light.

    Also, ‘Still, I wonder how anyone manages a day job, a life with a partner, a creative pursuit, and -god forbid- children’ – same here, girl, same here.

  12. Loved this, even in your wine haze you stated perfectly what so many struggle with so much of their life. This is true no matter their gender, though I suspect women have now and will have for many years to come more on the plate to shove about (don’t let my food touch, dammit).

    Balance is a strange and often nebulous thing, an unfound art (can’t be lost yet as we haven’t found it). So instead of balance we do the next best thing, we pick our battles, beg for understanding, help and sometimes for forgiveness.

    The next best thing, well that is to pick what is important leave other things on the shelf. Sometimes that is all we can do.

  13. Balance? The part of my brain that controls balance was atrophied by my old day job that flopped over into my nights and weekends totally screwing with my wine time. Yeah, I don’t have that issue now. Of course, I don’t get paid either. Haze! Haze against the dying of the 401K! 😀

  14. It’s very hard for me to balance them, and I work part-time. The hours have picked up recently, so the mix is changing again. Add a dark, cold, gray winter, and the creativity has come to a near standstill.

    But definitely, when it feels like the words are crap, it’s time for a break to recharge.

  15. Balance is a constant struggle that I think very few people ever truly obtain consistently. I’m certainly not one of those people. I keep trying but I wobble back and forth like a kid just out of training wheels. It also seems to me that women fret about finding balance more than men. Maybe we expect more from ourselves in more areas.

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