Monday, April 7, 2008

A Creative Fugue State--A Holiday for My Brain

Blame it on Camille Minichino (aka Margaret Grace), my sister blogger on

I was on my way to Florida for Spring Break when I emailed her if she’d like some sea shells for her miniatures.

She wrote back, “Oooh, yes, I have a little beach scene on my bookcase, and it's seriously lacking shells!”

But somehow I read that as “ Oooh, yes, I have a little sea shell shop on my bookcase, and it’s seriously lacking shells!”

Funny how my mind works. I went to South Carolina and picked up tiny sea shells from the beach. But the whole time, I was thinking about a sea shell shop, which was something I’d intended to create for myself in miniature for years. In fact, I couldn’t get this project out of my brain. One night while I was listening to the ocean, I went online and found I entered a fugue state, which is defined as an altered state of consciousness in which a person may move about purposely and even speak but is not fully aware. My mind was buzzing with ideas. When we got home from South Carolina, I went to Michaels, coupon in hand, and bought a paper mache “hat box” plus a wooden hutch and several bottles of acrylic paint. (Total cost about $10 with coupon.)

On Friday, my husband left town for a business trip. Since then, I’ve done nothing but work on my sea shell shop, ruining a perfectly good manicure but having a ball. It’s not entirely done…I want to add a few more things and then I’ll close it up and cover the outside and the lid. I made everything but the mermaid (I painted a statue of Ariel), the hutch, and the paintings.

I created the rug, the lights, the shell trimmed mirror, the table, the chair (except for the painted shells), the postcard stand, the plant, the shelving unit, all the shell displays and so on. In the "ceiling," I put tiny lights. (Picked these up on sale at Michaels after Halloween for $1.) Then, I draped the sparkling net over it to catch the 20 miniature "fireflies."I’m curious.

Do you enjoy more than one hobby? Do you ever get a creative impulse that’s so strong you can barely control it? Have you ever spent two days in your jammies working on a project and forgetting to eat? I feel so refreshed. I've been working on my writing for so long...I'm about 1/3 of the way through Book #3 of my scrapbooking mystery series...that this feels like a restful vacation. A holiday for my mind and my creative juices.

How do you like my sea shell shop?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

"Have you ever spent two days in your jammies working on a project and forgetting to eat?"

This describes most of my weekends, and how I write my best stuff! My books are my projects.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I get it! I'm with you there. I do my best work in my pj's.

I often tell people the best part of being a writer is the dress code.

Bill Cameron said...

Since I write out of the house, I have to admit that the dress code is slightly more rigorous than jammies. Though if I showed up at the coffee shop in my slippers and robe the staff probably wouldn't blink.

It's actually been a long time since I found myself deep in a creative haze for an extended period. I sometimes force it with short trips to a cabin in the woods, but even then I find I need a lot of break to clear the brain, nap, etc.

As a younger fellow, it was much more common. I used to be able to crank out 15,000 words in two days, or get into a groove and reconstruct the garden in a long weekend, or something like that. These days, two hours straight of anything and I'm past done. I wish I could get that old spasmotic energy back!

Like the shell shop!

Keith Raffel said...

It may take me awhile to come up with the right witty comment, Joanna. I'm working on it.

Cricket McRae said...

Love the shell shop, Joanna!

I'm always going down a rabbit hole on some creative project or other. Lately, it's been gardening -- plotting out beds, starting 400 seedlings, tons of research since I moved from zone 8 to zone 4 -- it's my current obsession. In the last few months I've focused for short times on baking, spinning (at least that applies to my current book!) and canvas floor cloths (don't ask).

However, I have to be very careful that my other projects feed my writing energy and don't hijack it!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Uh, Keith, I'm afraid. Very afraid.

CandaceCalvert said...

I love it, Joanna--and my Artist Way class would give you a standing ovation for that one!! It's the perfect "fill" for your creative well.

I've been writing hard and long toward my new deadline--but am still managing to take weekends off. This one found me finally painting the Adirondak chairs I dragged from California 4 years ago. Sprayed them a beautiful terra cotta red. Along with my tennis shoes . . . and the inside of my nose. Not kidding.

Carry on, Inkers!!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Hey, Cricket...I guess we could go down that rabbit hole together, eh? And Candy, I took an Artist's Way class in England. I truly think we can revitalize our creative juices by alternating the projects we tackle.

Worked for me!