It happens to us all from time to time: something (often, more than one thing) comes along to distract or prevent us from doing our creative work. For many, judging by comments from blog posts, tweets, and on Facebook, that interruption of the creative flow can be physically as well as mentally and spiritually draining.
Throughout my lengthy life I’ve always felt better in all ways when engaged on creative projects. Any interruption to the process results in a physical decline, a change of mood, and a reduction in mental acuity. It’s one reason I’m compelled to write. As well as writing, I make pictures using photography.
For the past fourteen months I’ve been in pain, sometimes a dull ache but often a debilitating hurt that stops me doing many things. Recently, I was referred to a musculo-skeletal assessor by the physiotherapist who’s been trying to resolve this chronic back pain. She sent me for an MRI scan and they discovered my pain is caused by a trapped nerve, which explains the pains in my hip and foot as well.
I’ve now been prescribed neuropathic painkillers as a first step toward mitigating the condition. And therein lies a new issue. These pills can impact on the brain. At odd times I’m in a mental fog, sometimes unable to concentrate, sometimes snappy for no apparent reason, sometimes drowsy. Not the best state when trying to work on a novel at the important initial edit of the first draft!
But I hate wasted time, so I’ve been doing those tasks we all should but that we put off because our time can be better spent doing what we most enjoy. I’ve been ‘tidying’ my PC. Deleting unwanted files accumulated over years: bits and pieces of information that seemed vital at the time but have remained unaccessed for years, sometimes decades.
I’d also bought new software to edit my photographs. So much software is described as ‘intuitive’. But for whom is this true? Not me. No matter, I discovered a manual online. I prefer such tomes in print, as I can’t read long pieces on screen. I downloaded each section (separately, due to the mix of formats and many large pictures). Once copied into a Word doc, I had a book of 379 A4 (11×8½ inches, for USA readers) pages. The tome now lies open at an early stage, awaiting further attention. I also enrolled on a video course, downloaded so I don’t have to be online to use it. Together, these resources will ultimately allow me to actually use the software.
But the brain-wrecking painkillers moved in and I paused the learning. Another creative element closed off.
In the meantime, I checked my collection of images for duplicates and shots of little use or value. I began with 20,406 picture files (varying from under 1Mb to over 25Mbs, with most at the high end, so they take up a lot of storage space). Over several days, I’ve examined every image (yes, each one) with the result I now have 14,466 images I need keep. The rest, 5,960, have been ditched as duplicates, temporary pictures for specific projects, or poor-quality images.
Now I seem to have tamed the pain and regained my brain to some extent, I’ve fewer images to edit. I’m still taking the tablets, but they’re no longer intruding so deeply into my thought processes.
I’m writing and posting this piece because some time ago (can’t recall when, but earlier this year) I wrote a post promising a creative piece each Wednesday. I was reminded of this by another writer asking for a contribution on ‘creativity’ to her blog. I’ve singularly failed to keep that promise. The foregoing is my excuse/reason/explanation (select as preferred) for this.
To add a little more sympathy-seeking to my excuse…sorry, ‘reason’, I also have a progressive autoimmune condition known succinctly as ‘Hashimoto’s sub-clinical hypothyroidism’, a failing of the thyroid to do its rather vital work. One of the many symptoms of this condition is lack of energy due to poor processing of food by the body.
So, there you have it. In reality, sympathy I can do without, but I seek your understanding whilst I get back to whatever is ‘normal’ for me. My new novel has had to await attention until now. I’m in a better state to begin the long and demanding process of editing it to be fit to send to my publisher. And I’ll attempt, for the sake of my mental and physical wellbeing, to produce a creative post next week.
Thank you for your time, patience, and attention.
And the picture heading this post? Just my first experiment with the new software. (There’s another story there, but I won’t bore you with it here. Just to say another three hours of my life have been sacrificed to the demons that run computer tech!)