The Creative Life


All things considered, I’m calling the mole a success.

And after repeatedly watching my mother-in-law whip up homemade tortillas like it’s child’s play, I decided to give those a try too. My safety net was having Carl pick up a hot rotisserie chicken from the grocery store on his way home from work. Two new skills I can try, but let’s not be foolish. We wanted a good meal by the end of it, not an A for effort.

I went all Food Network and used Paula Deen’s recipe for the mole and Alton Brown’s for the tortillas. The only things I changed were a) not cooking the chicken IN the mole (a nice helping on the side, sort of soaking into the rice and chicken was delicious and allowed better control for the heat in the mole), and b) subbing veg shortening for the lard in the tortillas. Recipes are suggestions, right?

Of course, then we had extra tortilla dough in the fridge and had to buy chorizo so we could have a scrambled eggs and chorizo breakfast, scooped up with pieces of hot tortilla. “Did you use your fork?” I asked, as I was clearing the table later (we have no dishwasher, so every unused utensil is a small victory). Answer from the next room: “Forks are for rich white Americans.”

Ha. Well, I did walk into that one.

But what I MEANT to write about when I sat down this morning (and it was technically morning when I started musing on all this) was creativity. How much it permeates everything I most enjoy about life. How much I need it to be happy.

I actually think I’m only beginning to be comfortable with the idea of being a “creative person.” The term always seemed a bit loaded to me. Like you’re trying too hard, you know? Like those teenaged girls who will not shut up about how “weird” they are, because it’s vitally important to all be unique together. I never really thought of myself as a creative person, because I tended to live in a very performance/discipline oriented environment. So I didn’t think I was creative. I thought I was sort of lazy.

Well, I can also be sort of lazy, but that’s a different thing.

There’s good and bad to having a disciplined side. I’m still trying to sort out the interplay of creativity and discipline. Get too rigid with your word count per day or your deadlines and you can run the well dry. On the other hand, if you only work when the moon is full and your creative muse strikes… you never get anything done.

Coming off a six week stint of writer’s block, I know a lot of it had to do with expectations, repeated rejection, failure to manage and feed my creativity. There were other reasons too, but I think those topped the list.

It’s interesting watching it all come back: getting excited about new recipes, wanting to scrapbook during our lazy Sunday afternoon, churning out my 1,000 words per day, starting to tinker with ideas for a fantasy story on the side.

All forms of creativity are connected.

And thanks to a judicial amount of sunshine, I’m starting to feel good about it all again. I wish I understood it better, but I think there will always be ebb and flow in creative processes. That’s ok too.

All I know is I’ve got two solid writing days under my belt—where expectations were met without drama or suffering—and I’m looking at a third today. I’m still not feeling especially inspired about the novel, but at least I’m getting good work done. And when I check off my goals for the day, I’m letting myself work on a fantasy premise that’s been niggling at the back of my brain.

There’s an alluring outlaw element to creativity. A grass is greener thing. I always want to write MOST when I’m supposed to be doing something else. Work and school were my spurs in the past. Now my book is the “work” half,  the thing I can’t wait to finish so I can “play” with world-building in my other project.

Such is life.

I’m just glad to be getting my hands dirty again.


One thought on “The Creative Life

  1. I’m so glad you finally got to make your mole. I’ve done homemade tortillas before, but I’m sure I have a LOT to learn in that department.

    Interesting thoughts on creativity. I think our family at large has creativity coming out its ears. And discipline. Kind of an odd combination now that I think about it.

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