Art-Benefit Analysis

Time management. ::sigh:: Those two industrial gray words turn life from a free-flowing art form into a commercial enterprise, hours scrutinized under cost-benefit analysis, minutes tallied in the ledger. I can deal, however reluctantly, with allocating time toward work, housewifery, and relationships, but my real problem is in subjecting creativity to a schedule. See, my muse rarely shows up on time. Her whimsy abides by no rules and responds to neither threats nor incentives. There is simply no reasoning with hormonal fairies.

And yet I try. I carve time out of the rocks and burrow inside with a stash of blank pages and coffee, hoping that my dedication to the cause will coax her better nature into action. Sometimes it works, but lately it hasn’t… and when my accountants find me a few hours later with only thirty new words and twice as many deleted, they react like infected monkeys. They shriek and rage and wave the deficit column in my face, and I can’t really defend myself. Who spends precious hours staring down a half-written document while other projects pile up?

I do apparently. Now that I have a job, time management is a necessary part of my modus operandi, and I’m doing my best to find a free-flowing art form within its confines. Something in me insists that this isn’t a futile search. We humans were designed both to work and to live, and there has to be a balance somewhere in this tangle of time constraints. Unfortunately, my accountants have hidden the balance sheet until further notice; I’ll likely find it next month shuffled in among the unpaid bills and Orlagh’s latest bar tab.

So do tell, those of you who find time for what you love to do among all the things you have to do: How?? Do you have any methods or tricks for keeping all your plates spinning? Do you feel guilty when art grinds efficiency to a halt? Do you ever have to let other parts of your life go? And most importantly, does your muse come to work on a schedule? Because if so, we’re trading.

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  1. ah my sister from another mother…
    yes, so totally yes to all the above….
    so glad you can relate in so many different ways.
    blowing kisses across the pond…

  2. Srsly, you’ve seen my blog lately. And you’ve seen even less in the mail. 🙁 And my personal, actual pen-and-ink journals? Decidedly sparse in the verbage department. I can offer my empathy, a nod of the head, and a well-intentioned “you’ll figure it out, B”

  3. Yeahhhhhh. I am terrible at carving out time for stuff. See: Deadline Driven in the dictionary. I am cheating right now, because I am SO FAR BEHIND, but only because I am still catching up with this piece of my life. And my “muse”?? Aside from a visit the other morning because it was the anniversary of my friend’s death, I haven’t seen that chick for manymanymoons.

    I will argue with you about something…this post was awesome, muse or not. As was the last one….and pretty much EVERY one you write. So, maybe your muse is overrated, you do so well without her.

  4. I feel your pain. For years I created nothing bc I couldn’t figure out how to fit it into my new, busy life. I really missed it. Lately I have tried short, very simple projects in 10 minute chunks of time. I like to sew and decorate, so I re-covered some throw pillows using cloth napkins. No measuring, cutting, or hemming, but it was enough of a project that it gave me a lift.

    Writing, OTOH…sometimes I just let other things go. It’s harder to do in brief moments. I always pay in other tasks undone, always feel a bit guilty…but it’s worth it!

  5. My muse has been on hiatus for far too long (my art muse, that is. My writing muse seems to pop up sporadically). I have no advice on this at the moment. Sadly.

  6. Rain – Catching the kisses and nodding in understanding. (What else is there to do?)

    Q – I think you’ve probably seen less in the mail from me than I have from you lately. 🙂 Every time I hear of a mom with little children writing a best-selling book (J.K. Rowling, anyone?), I start to go a little Mad Hatter, because really? And HOW???

    Megsie – Hmm, I like that thought… my muse is overrated… Will have to mull over that one a bit. And believe it or not, it makes me feel a lot better to know when busy, successful, creative women like yourself are feeling swamped. I think, “Oh, so it’s not just me” and breathe a little easier. So thank you. 🙂

    Stephanie – I’ve made half-hearted resolutions several times to just give up the idea of creative time — it was too hard/complicated/frustrating/impossible/whatever — but each time, I felt my soul going numb, and that’s not the kind of example I want to set for my girls. So in light of that, yes! The slight guilt of not getting other tasks done is absolutely worth it.

    Liz – You have a pretty wonderful writing muse, as I recall! I’m not sure I’ve met your art one before; you’ll have to introduce us… 🙂

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