The Dark Side of the creative process

My lesson yesterday? The things that anger, frighten and frustrate are not minefields but diamond mines full of unruly bits that can be polished into a gem of a story.

I left Monday for an overnighter in the city, a work trip, wondering in part if I was well enough to take on the additional responsibility. I didn’t sleep Monday night, unless a few catnaps adding to a grand total of 1.5 hours counts, so I wasn’t off to a good start. However, the hotel was lovely. the pool even lovelier and after a soothing early morning swim and a picnic breakfast, I was good to go. Halfway through the meeting, however, the gnawing in my stomach gained fire. Clearly I was not healed, in fact, I seemed to be regressing, tuning out and fuming when I should be open and engaging. It was a gorgeous day outside and I was stuck inside listening to facts that I already knew from folks who were not on the same page I or the organizers were on. That’s a boardroom standard, is it not? By the break, I was ready to ditch. Instead, I breathed, pulled out my iPad and began working on a related project. that move diverted my frustration into accomplishment and gave me space to calm down. With the fire cooled, I could understand why I was so frustrated.

The volume of speakers, limited time and lack of rules of order meant that me and others like me had no opportunity to share their opinions. I could not speak my authentic voice. This realization helped melt the frustration, and showed that instead of regressing I have moved forward. I have found my voice, or I wouldn’t have been upset at not sharing it.

I looked up and saw the guest speaker standing alone, unusual because at the start of the break he had been surrounded, and for good reason. He was an excellent communicator – enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and efficient in connecting his world with others. I asked him a question I had wanted to discuss before the break. We had an enlightening conversation, at least for me. The break ended. I soldiered on. By the end of the day I was exhausted and still unsure whether the event was productive at all. This morning, however, after a night of actually sleeping and some processing, several good things came from my initial frustration. I looked at the day as a sign my organization could do more to promote its worth, and we are taking steps to do that. I am inspired now to refresh the promo materials and work plan.

The exhaustion is a sign I still have to be very careful and in fact, tonight, I will be enjoying an early supper and movie with my family, so we can all get a good night’s sleep. The frustration I felt, though, is gone after a day, when before it might have clung and simmered for weeks or months. That is a step forward. Bring on the water and carrots.

Thanks for listening. See you tomorrow.