December Slump

I feel like I’ve been incredibly unproductive this month, and I can’t nail down the cause of it. My immediate suspect is all of the travel. Our last several days in Renkum were spent getting ready to hit the road again, and our time in London was too short to really take on a project. Even back in Montana, we’ve been getting a pretty good mileage this past week: we’ve made a couple trips to Billings, a trip to Bozeman, and have a trip to Butte planned for the weekend, so I’m feeling like I’m doing as much travel as ever, despite being “back”.

Being on the go might not be the only problem, however. If it was that easy, I could just carve out a few days where I simply didn’t plan to go anywhere. Today was such a day, and I got quite a bit accomplished. The only problem? None of it, so far, has been art-making. Everything I’ve worked on since I’ve gotten back has been either a maintenance chore (i.e., balancing bank statements), or working on seasonal projects, like Christmas shopping, or going through the address book for a Christmas card mailing. These are things that need to get done, of course, and I suppose they’re an inevitability of being away for two months. Sure, I could’ve gotten to work on a Christmas card back in November, or even October, but I was trying to focus on the projects at hand… and goodness knows I’ve got plenty of projects at any given time.

Most likely, it’s a combination of both of those factors: being unsettled and catching up can mess up one’s artistic output, and I suppose it’s the thousand one-minute distractions like these that residency programs are intended to shield their participants from, just as one can enjoy a weekend away from home a little more because you don’t have to feel obliged to mow the lawn– or guilty for neglecting to do so. When I think if it that way, they’re problems I’m very fortunate to have, I suppose. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to explore another corner of the world for a couple of months, and of course there’s going to be some adjustment time to get things back in order in the “real” life at home.

Still, I feel… pent up. It’s not quite what I’d describe as a restlessness for travel, although it’s the sort of feeling that would probably prompt me to go on a long hike in summer weather. I don’t think it’s a need to go somewhere, though, as much as make something. I think what I’m feeling is the creative impulse unfulfilled, a sort of artistic zugunruhe. I’m getting fidgety. Of course, the obvious solution is “well Charlie, why don’t you go off and make something?”…. and I would, except I don’t really know quite what to make. I think what I just need to do is set myself up in front of a blank piece of paper for an undistracted hour and see what I make. I’ve just got to finish my share of the Christmas card writing first.

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