The Ups And Downs Of A Creative Life

Hello dear reader,

it has been a week of strange motivations. I took a few days off work to recharge and spend some amazing time with my lady Emma, I spent that time playing games and doing absolutely nothing productive at all, even though, in the back of my mind I intended to and secretly wish I had.

I go through long periods of wanting to be better and I tell myself that I got to work, that I need time to myself, that I love playing games; repeating all those things that you tell yourself when you’re putting things off, without even intending to or understanding the reasons why you’re putting them off in the first place.

Deep down I think I know and the feeling scares me a little bit. Deep down there is a little creeping fear that everything I’m doing and all the time I’m spending will never come to anything, that all the effort will be wasted, nobody will ever get to see my writings or the products of my work.

I hate that feeling, so I think I distract myself by making the conscious decision to not try, or to make excuses why I couldn’t try in that moment, then I feel the existential guilt that only a creative can feel when another day has ticked by without actually having made any strides towards the endeavours that make you love being creative in the first place.

How do I navigate around this strange catch-22 that I have pretty much always found myself in? Do I just let the feeling take me and do whatever the hell I want, even if it will take ten years to finish a project? Or do I push myself to finish something and then try my best to get it out there?

The trouble is I don’t know…and I feel like I don’t have the time, knowledge or motivation to get involved in a creative community that might allow me to get my work out there.

How do you know where to best put your time to get your work done, get it out into the world and to keep yourself sane?

I think I’ll be asking that question forever, but maybe one day I’ll find an answer. The important point is that I’m not going to stop. I can’t stop, and if you’re ever tempted to stop, know that in all your unsure and nervous attitude about whether your work is worthy, well it always will be, we need new ideas; all of them.

Keep going, and I will too.

The Crier and the Shopkeeper

The following is a short moment set in my universe. It is a fantasy world and this is set near the end of winter.

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The sun gazed dimly down upon a blanket of cloud, unable to see through it to the white world below. If you listened closely perhaps you could hear a far off sigh.
Far below, nestled at the foot of the tallest mountain, sat a city; an old city who some say was the first.
“The Dark Days are approaching!” The crier’s voice rang through an old market square, escaping and echoing down the alley ways between buildings. Bouncing from stone to stone.
In one of the buildings a shopkeeper looked forlornly around her empty shop. A narrow building, dark for lack of windows, but filled with a wonderfully enticing smell. A few bags were displayed, filled with the colourful and tempting sweets, but the bulk of the stock was safe behind the counter. Ella and her assistant Bes had learnt the hard way that people sometimes get too tempted by her wares.
“Be ready for the dark days!” The voice rang out, closer this time, heard through the slightly ajar front door.
“He’s getting closer.” Bes remarked, in a bored sort of way, as she fiddled with a ribbon around a small woven bag.
Ella noted the bell that accompanied the shouting.
“I have an idea.” She swept out from behind the counter and off to the front door.
Ella poked her head out of her shop doorway, eyes scanning to find the source of the proclamation.
“The Dark Days will be here soon!” The bell clanged along with his heavy tread.
“Aha!” Ella stepped a foot out into the the street, thought better of it a moment and went back inside to grab her cloak. “I’ll be back shortly, Bes, keep the shop running.”
Once outside, she struggled to find the crier again,so many people filled the narrow street. She walked in the direction she had last seen him, dodging shoppers. And there he was, walking towards her, a very short man with the largest beard she’d ever seen, it was a deep brown with a variety of metals and stones decorating it. He wore an emerald green woollen hat and tunic. The golden bell was gripped tightly in his hand.
“Good morn, fair crier!” Ella called out to the man, she raised a hand in part greeting and part beckoning.
He stopped and turned to look at Ella.
“And a good morn to you.” He nodded his head to her.
She took a step to close the gap between them, and was almost knocked over by a woman carrying an overflowing basket.
“Watch where you’re going!” The woman bellowed in Ella’s face before she pushed passed and on down the street.
Ella felt her face flush, her hand clenched.
“Never mind her.” Said the crier. “The dark days can bring out the worst in people.” He patted her elbow and they stood off to the side of the pathway.
“Was there something that you needed from me?” He squinted up at her, and she saw a glint in his dark green eyes.
Ella pulled back her shoulders and nodded.
“I have a proposition for you.”
The crier’s eyebrow rose but he didn’t say anything.
“I have a shop. An empty shop, and I wish that it were not.”
“And I can help with that?”
“I’m certain of it.” She pulled from a cloak pocket a bag of her wares. “Whether they realise it or not, everyone listens to you when you shout.”
“I wouldn’t just do this for fun.” The crier’s moustache twitched and his eyes twinkled.
“Hmm, I have met people who do like the sound of their own voice.”
He chuckled and waved his hand for her to continue.
“Well, people need to know what they need, what would make the dark days a little more bearable.” She swung the little bag back and forth.
“Is that something that will help?” He nodded to the little bag.
“It is. A succulent morsel, which will sweeten the long dark hours.” She passed over the bag. “Have a taste, I’m sure you will agree.”
The crier tore open the ribbon and removed a buttercup yellow oval sweet. He placed it in his mouth and pocketed the rest.
“Mmm.” He finished the sweet. “Very nice. An nut in sugar?”
“Yes.” Ella, was impressed. “I visited the great city a number of years ago and encountered this wonderful sweet maker, he taught me a few things. No-one else makes them here.”
“And yet your shop is empty.”
“It’s a busy time, people are getting other things ready, worrying about keeping safe and having family around.”
“Perhaps they should be worrying about bringing over a sweet treat for a special time, hmm?” The crier winked at her.
“Exactly.”
“What’s in it for me?” He eyed the pouch at her waist.
Ella shifted her stance, her cloak fell, covering her money purse.
“For each sale, I’ll give you a penny.”
He narrowed his eyes as he looked up at her. “I think you could do a better than that, hmm?”
“Two pennies?” She asked, not holding on to much hope.
He chuckled. “Five pennies and a few more bags of sweets, I think my family might enjoy them. And five pennies upfront.”
Ella thought for a moment, she sold each bag for ten pennies, losing half was almost too much. But on the other hand if she didn’t sell any she would be much worse off. Looking up into the sky she noticed the lightening, and realised that it would soon by turning to the second half of the day.
“Better hurry, not much light left.” The crier jangled his bell.
“A deal, then.” She stuck out her hand, the crier grasped hers in a firm, warm grip.
She dug into her purse, pulled out five pennies and passed them over to her new business partner.
She told him where her shop was and a few details about her sweets and left. She was excited by this idea, but her expectations were low, it was like nothing else she had ever tried before.
She returned to her shop, the enclosed space was slightly oppressive after the brisk air of the streets. But the sugary smell was a comfort.
“Where did you run off to?” Bes demanded, as she bundled up a selection of sweets, the white confections made a satisfying sound as they tumbled together in the bag.
“To carry out my idea, we shall soon see if it bears fruit.” Ella joined Bes behind the counter once she had removed her cloak.
Outside they could hear the crier, Ella smiled.
“Stock up on your sweet nuts, take a gift of sweets to your dark day sanctuary!”
Bes stopped in her wrapping as she heard the crier’s words.
“You didn’t?” She turned to Ella who was now by her side.
“Maybe.”
They laughed as the door opened and a couple of new customers walked in.

The New Year

Christmas has come and gone, the New Year is before us. This time between the holidays is often a time of contemplation, a space to re-evaluate what has worked in the past and what we would like to change for the upcoming year. And here at Steadman Society we, too, are reviewing, and change is coming!
Along with fiction, we are branching out into posts about our hobbies, for me that means cross stitch (a new interest), and journaling, for John it is Warhammer and other gaming type things.
I think it’s going to be good for me in particular, a way to write more and to explore new angles of writing in an attempt to become more comfortable.
Over the last couple of months I have found myself slipping back into bad habits when it comes to writing which are stopping me from progressing again. A couple of set backs gave me an excuse and I kept slipping. But the New Year brings a new chance, a fresh start and an opportunity to start as we mean to go on, I mean to take it and to run with it!
For the time between Christmas and the New Year I’m working on getting rid of everything that we don’t use, things that have been sitting in drawers or getting in the way that are just gathering dust. We tried to do this earlier in the year but I always end up stopping or keeping things that I shouldn’t. But this time I am determined, sticking only to art, writing and cross stitch, everything else will be relocated to someone who will use it.
2019 was the year to get our eating habits sorted and to realise where our priorities lie and 2020 is going to be the year of getting things done!

Good luck to you and I hope that you have a wonderful and safe New Years.