04 May 2010

When a struggling writer goes to a Renaissance Festival

I LOVE the Renaissance Festival. It comes every spring to Fairburn, Georgia and my husband and I always go, usually twice, but the first time is on or around our anniversary. It was the first place we went on a date. I love being surrounded by a different time, by people who craft a life out of passions and art and craft and talent. It's a brave life, or so I think, that they lead. Perhaps they have nine to fives. Perhaps they only do it on the weekends because it brings them much needed joy and respite. But I like to imagine it's what they do all the time. The glassblower will go back to his studio in June and create more wares, sell them via 21st century means, and travel on to the next Renaissance Fair, far, far away. The bookbinder, the candle maker, the acrobats, the hatter, the jeweler: masters at their art. Years of practice, of sacrifice, of failures and successes.

And every year I pause and ask myself: why am I not there yet?

Do I want to live in a festival? Honestly, yes. I think it would be a blast to waltz about in medieval garb, speaking the king's English. But there's more to that "out there". More life, more people, more opportunity.

One year is a long time. It is. 365 days. 8,760 hours. That much time to hone my craft, to get my elbows dirty, to cake the ink on these fingers and nails. And yet another hour ticks by and nothing. Emptiness.

My heart has felt that emptiness for a long time. It's not just the Renaissance Festival that reveals it. It's the articles, the quotes, the lives I see daily who have stepped out in faith to accomplish their dreams, who have persevered, who have fought and bled and died a little just to see the dream birthed.

It's a struggle daily to sit and feel this sense of un-accomplishment, of nothingness. It's hard to show up at family reunions and grin and nod when everyone's talking and asking "So, what is it you do again?". Shuffling feet, looking away, trying to find an excuse to get another plateful and not answer the inevitable.

I long to smile, to greet the question enthusiastically. "I'm a writer and an artist." I'd hand them my card. They would smile, maybe even, wistfully, sigh and say, "I wish it was me." To which I would reply, "It can be! Let me show you how."

But for now, I fight. I ache. I long. I weep. And again I fight and fight and fight. Why? Because it's what I believe in. No matter how many hours I must sit and do the monotonous while dreaming of the great, of the work that will take me to the hurting and the hungry. I fight because I know that to give up is to die. I think I also fight because I know, deep down, somewhere that's sometimes un-mappable, that it's meant to be and if I just keep going, moving on, I'll get there. And perhaps one day, I'll be able to help another struggler through my own stories. That is, after all, what we're here for.
How do you handle the downs of this creative life? How do you keep going? We all struggle and we all triumph. If you're struggling at the present time (as I am) don't give up, keep fighting, and by all means, keep in touch. It's never good to walk alone. ~ do forgive my long ramblings.


Carla Gade said...

Welcome back, Jen! Oh, how you were missed. I kept you in my prayers and thought of you often. I'd love to live in a festival. What a joyful thought! And happy anniversary to you and your husband!

When I go through difficult writing times I try to give myself grace to just be. It's ok to just be. Not to be "on" all the time. It's sometimes in those misty times that I gain a new perspective. Of course, enjoying nature, looking at lovely colorful things, and prayer always refresh me.

So glad to see you!

Helen Ginger said...

You're not alone. It is sometimes difficult to keep doing whatever you like to do. The words don't come, the ideas have vanished, the editing is frustrating. For me, I either persevere or I step away, do something fun, like meet with writer friends or do something unrelated. Sometimes it takes more than a day, then I get back to my desk.

Straight From Hel

Kittie Howard said...

Welcome back, Jen! Yes, you were definitely missed!! Wondered how you were doing and hope the respite recharged life's battery. Jen, I'm older and have been where you are. Your blog today made total sense to me (as did the previous blog). I don't really know how to put the abstract 'it' into words except to say that every so many years there's a 'chunk' in the system, as if the whole thing of being is in low gear and struggling to get up a mountain. It's painful for one wonders what happened to the old zip, the old creativity, and so on. And, yes, like you wrote, there is a feeling of emptyness. But, please trust me, all of this passes, without knowing how it happened, you wake up one day, and WOW, you're back stronger and wiser. I think eveyone has to periodically wander in the wilderness to reset the compass. Good luck...and worry not!!! K.

Terresa said...

Yes, despite riding the giddy waves of writing conference enthusiasm the past week, I have, for days now, been blue.

Wondering if I have what it takes to see my story through.

I met Aprilynne Pike at the conference. She is So Young. And living the dream of writer. And I have to wonder, will that ever be me???

Right now, I don't know. But I intend to see.

Kittie Howard said...

Returned from my fast-walk (a bit too much bread (yum) this winter) and saw your comment. Very happy you're smiling. Trust me, I sympathize cause these lurches aren't fun, but, Girl, just go with the flow and, like Ma always told me, Don't think so much. Hugs!

Brian Miller said...

a great blog friend jaffscape did a post today that was very reassuring as a writer...90% of our writing will be junk, sub par...but the daily discipline helps us find and expand that 10%...for me that gave freedom. love the renaisace fair as well...smiles.

Kristin Rae said...

Welcome back!

I struggle often with my creative self. I feel worthless and untalented at some point every day, and other times I'll truly be proud of an accomplishment. I think us creative types are just naturally hard on ourselves. But I'll take the humble artist over the big-head any day.

I grew up near the ground for the a Ren fest, and I have a completely different view of them. lol. A lot of the people who work our fair do it all year, traveling around the country (ours here is in the fall), and I saw how they'd camp in the woods, under bridges... etc. They are definitely dedicated to their craft. I totally get what you mean by craving the feeling of living in a different time, though. I felt like that when I visited Colonial Williamsburg years ago. It was like a time warp. Very inspiring.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Oh, my goodness, Jen. Our minds are linked somewhere. I just posted a link to my article on The Committee, the devil voices that tell us we're not good enough and make us want to give up. But, we don't because we're like you. You know in your heart that you DO have it. When and where it will blossom, well, that's up to God. Write on! Dream on!

Anonymous said...

Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.......................................................

Glynis said...

It is blogging that keeps me going. When I feel the world is a long way from my island, I turn to my blog.
My writing family is there, they nurture me and feed me the nutrition I need to continue.

Enjoy your festival.

Ratty said...

I understand your struggle. I do it on a daily basis, especially this time of year. I wonder what the point of some of these things really is. But I remember that it's what I love most that I should be doing, so that's what I do. I keep going.