Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I thought I was in a rut lately until I pictured that word in my mind and saw, well, a rut formed by, say a wheelbarrow wheel and realized that the rut came from doing something over and over. I looked it up in the Oxford American dictionary and it said "a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive..." and since I've been decidely unproductive but not behaving as I habitually do, that word did not really apply. I only wished I was in my lovely dull habit of painting and writing, productive or not. I wasn't doing anything. Blah. So I looked up "doldrums" and found that definition #2 applies: "a period of inactivity or stagnation." Ahh, I saw myself here. The first definition and synonym is depression but I wouldn't go so far as to say I've been depressed. Not in a clinical sense anyway. But I got to thinking some more (plenty of time for thinking when one is stagnating) and I realized that during these doldrums I was actually doing something and here is a list:
  • I thought about all the things I wasn't doing and wondered what would become of me.
  • That hurt my head so I slept.
  • I read The Twilight Saga, all four books so that, in the words of my Twilight-crazy daughter she and I "could be on the same page."
  • When I wasn't immersed in Bella's life of cataloguing the various facial expressions of Edward (he's got like a trillion different smiles each with a very different very deep meaning behind it), I was knitting. I was determined to use up all the odd ends of skeins dating back to my teen years (I kid you not) so I knitted a scarf for aforementioned daughter. I used up a lot but not all of the yarn.
  • Started knitting another scarf for no one in particular. I realized I enjoyed the lack of rules, the tiny decisions about which color to use next, just row after row of listening to the radio.
  • Read "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott and fell in love with it.
  • Started reading "Breaking into Freelance Illustration" by Holly DeWolf. I was keeping in touch with illustration at least!
  • I finally planted the three bulbs I sprang for during a school-trip fundraising drive. I'm now enjoying that tiny effort as they give off a beautiful scent.
  • When I finished all four Twilight books I started The Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld. They were a gift and much to my surprise I was hooked and read all three. Fantasy isn't my favorite genre but I'm glad I tried it.
    I have my doldrums to thanks for that.
So I didn't move those picture book texts forward, didn't revise that dummy book, didn't get moving on that illustration portfolio. Nope. But the doldrums allowed me to do a few other things and while I'm not saying I don't regret this period, because I do, I decided to stop being so hard on myself and tally up what I did when I wasn't doing "anything". And now I'm coming out of it. I've joined a new gym, have borrowed arm-fulls of picture books from the library and wrote about them in my reading log and I've taken out those texts and dummy book and will face revision.

So now I'm wondering, what do you do when you aren't doing anything?


  1. Loved the scarves you made. They are beautiful. What a great way to get yourself out of a rut!


  2. Thanks Lynda! Only problem is we have way more scarves than necks around my house now. Guess my extended family knows what to expect next Christmas ;-)