I don’t know about you, but for me, the creative process requires a lengthy visit to “The Zone.” If you’re an artist of any kind, you probably know what I’m talking about, surely sense the obsessive urge, the quiver of excitement at the prospect of exploring undiscovered shores. My creative muse resides there, tantalizing and intoxicating, and she demands my undivided attention.
I love my forays into the Zone, despite its consumption of my life. It’s creative gluttony, stuffing my face with words, gobbling down characters, disgorging pathos. When I dive into the Zone, I’m not myself. I’m immersed in my craft, drowning in a taste of pure manna like an addict. The rest of the world fades into the hazy horizon as the Zone awakens that right brain craving.
As a writer, this is especially true during my first draft when a story’s taking shape. Within the Zone, unfamiliar scenes tap from my fingertips and uncooperative characters demand a voice. A fickle wind pushes my plot, requiring vigilance to stay on course. As an adventurer, I’m on my own, trying to make sense of an untold tale before I return to my ordinary life, take a long overdue shower…wash loads of stinky laundry…vacuum blankets of dog hair…make dinner for a gaunt spouse surviving on snack food.
Fortunately, my visits to the Zone are temporary, and I recognize the pattern well enough now that I can plan ahead. “Okay, everybody,” I announce to the family, “I’m going to the Zone for a month. See ya.” My eyes droop and I make a pouty face as if I’m going to miss them, but inside I’m giddy as a new mom with a night out. Party time for me and my laptop!
Here’s a typical conversation when I’ve entered the Zone:
Husband: “Blah blah…dinner…blah blah…oil change…blah blah blah?”—long pause—“I might as well live alone.”
Me: “Hmm, what?”
Sad, but true.
I’m starting to emerge from my most recent jaunt into the Zone. My latest creation, The Rose Shield, feels ready for a little breathing room. I timed my journey well this year, with summer blooming and the weeds in my garden whining for attention. The husband and house require a healthy dose of TLC too that I’ll sate over the next few months…but, oh yes, you guessed it…in preparation for another spree into the Zone come fall. I can’t wait!