I am an artist. Most of us are, in a way. If you are a fellow blogger - as I've been saying for years - you may see yourself as something else; a professional, maybe, or a hobbyist, reviewer, journalist or activist... but I would consider you, first and foremost, as an artist.
This means that I create content.
Or I'm meant to, anyway.
For this past week, I've been finding it difficult to create. Hell, I've been finding it difficult to think. I've not been feeling well - although my girlfriend has it worse, and has been off work with something between a chest infection and the bestial roars from the Apocalypse. I've been taking care of her, which suits my nature (and involves food, which piques my interest); it has, however, rendered me somewhat sedentary, and my energy has waned to a very noticeable low.
This morning, I was called by work to say that I wasn't required as we were closed due to inclement weather. They didn't tell the clients this, however, so I have had a few of them calling me.
This is a very inopportune time to have a creative slump, as this month is the one in which I am meant to be at my most active. February is the time to write songs; it is the month in which I invest in lyric poetry, try my hand at fiction and (if at all possible) throw myself headfirst into blogging. During the first week, this all seemed achievable: at the end of the first day, I had a song, a partially-completed poem, the first chapter of a long-form fanfiction under my belt (yes, I write fanfic, what of it?). By the second day, I had a blog post up. I was planning some more. On the third day, I wrote another song.
It's not often that ill physical health causes me to have a dip in my creative energies - although that is certainly a contributing factor - but mental health certainly has. I am finding myself wondering, increasingly, if depression is in fact the main problem here: if I can't find the motivation to get out of bed, or spend my nights lying awake ruminating, what business have I trying to generate content? It's my favourite thing to do, for sure, but why should I, if I don't have the energy, or the inspiration?
And therein lies the problem. Inspiration. It's not something you can wait for - it's something you have to chase.
One of the first times my creativity vanished, I cheated my way out of it. Pretended to be able to play a musical instrument I couldn't play, and joined a band to do so. Hurled into the blog I was writing at the time. Started learning Japanese via a CD-ROM. Drew. Even distracted myself with video games (and I've always seen completing an objective as a creative act), and more often than I cared to admit at the time, I'd trawl through porn and start narrating scene-by-scene breakdowns in my head. I wasn't realistically producing much to be proud of, and certanly not much people could read... but the fact that I wasn't just sitting and doing things without purpose, that I was going out to band practice twice a week, and that I was rediscovering my sexual identity step by step...
...which is a creative process, trust me...
and I slowly, but surely, broke out of the cloud of cheated rejection and poisonous self-doubt which had been pervasive after my first girlfriend left me (which triggered the phase). I wasn't a happy person (I've never been a happy person), but I was at least getting back to me, and for the first time, I was helping myself do that.
Which brings us back to now. Here I am on a snow day. I could have been spending the entire time blitzing song lyrics, paragraphs of fiction and blog posts. I haven't been doing any of that - I didn't even get dressed until a little after noon. I spent hours reading about auto-erotic practices in animals on Wikipedia, and the most active thing I've done today is to go out and buy lunch. I don't have the energy to do anything else.
Reason tells me that this, too, will pass - the pit is just that, and it can be climbed out of. Writing one more blog post may be the very start of that climb.
I can't guarantee anything, but I very much like hitting the publish button.