I have been alone for the past two days. Alone for the first time in almost two months. First there was the busyness of getting ready for a two week vacation, then there was the vacation itself. Once home again there was the joy of spending time with Mallory and getting her ready to go back to college.
All these things have been wonderful, but they have left me with no time alone to think. My creative energy has been running on empty. Yesterday I realized why I have been floundering, the voice in my head has been missing. That "voice" fuels my creative fire.
I have been super productive the last two days. I was getting so many things crossed off of my to-do list, but I still wasn't taking time to just be.
Last night I decided to go to one of my favorite places, Lake Michigan. Sand and water are tinder for my soul. I was on the hunt for "numbers", which was the prompt of the day for a photo challenge that I am participating in during the month of August.
When I reached the end of the pier I found my "numbers" in some graffiti. Content to snap a photograph with my iPhone to transform later at home on my iPad, I started to wander back along the boardwalk towards the parking lot.
During this wandering is when it happened, the voice in my head returned. That glorious voice made me do a leap of joy. I was all alone out there, but really I would have jumped even if other people had been around.
That's when I realized this voice in my head, which I have generally taken for granted or wished would go away, is my creative muse. Photography ideas started popping into my head in rapid succession, this story started writing itself, and I felt alive again.
Driving home with all these ideas swirling in my head, I began again the debate I often have with myself. Which passion to pursue? Photography or writing?
Photography: I love the challenge of photography and the learning that goes into the process. I may never hit it "Big" as a photographer, but I would like to at least print some of my own stuff to hang on my walls.
Writing: I love it when the stories effortlessly write themselves, but I must have that voice in my head in order to write. Otherwise I am just an empty vessel.
While reading before bed last night, the answer presented itself. I am reading A Homemade Life: Stories and recipes from my kitchen table by Molly Wizenberg. She was writing about why she blogs, "I write about food and cooking, and in that sense I aim to be informative, but I write about my life some too, since it intersects with food roughly three times a day. I don't think many of us are terribly interested in recipes that have no stories or real-life context. For me, the two are inseparable. One is pale and boring without the other."
Substituting my photography and exploring for her food and cooking, I had my answer to that nagging question once and for all.
Next time I am feeling uncreative or lose that voice in my head, I know that I must set some time aside to be by myself, head to the beach, and all will be well again.