Recently I drew this mind-mappy flow-charty thing to try to figure out, for myself, how all my various fun and creative projects relate to and support one another.
Here's what I learned about my creative life from creating this map:
1. Writing a novel was not the pinnacle of my creative writing activities, but a catalyst for more
2. The people in blogging communities are awesome and so are those in snail-mail communities
3. All my disparate projects don't seem so disparate after all. They work together in a funny kind of way
4. Having kids doesn't mean you have to give up on doing the creative things you love. In many cases, it can inspire you
And it's that last one I want to talk about. Last week a friend (Hi Bec!) said the NICEST thing to me. She said she wanted to have children one day but that she had always feared that prioritising her children might mean having to give up on doing the things she loved. But that knowing me and reading my blog had given her the confidence that the two didn't have to drive one another away. Isn't that wonderful?
I'm the first to admit that I really struggle to find the time to follow my passions. Hey, there are three good reasons why my next novel is still only a third of the way through after ALL THESE YEARS, that the magazine I've mentioned here hasn't launched yet, that I take literally months to write and send the letters I promise to send, and that my blog posting is intermittent at best. Two of those reasons are sleeping upstairs right now and will do so for an undetermined length of time (could be I only have five minutes of blog-writing time left); and the other reason is my actual, you know, paid job. But…
Despite the perpetually time-poor state that comes with being a parent of small children, I make it a priority to work on my creative joys. They're just not the TOP priority. I don't achieve the way I used to, or hit goals the way I used to, but I do give myself permission to chip away at these activities, purely for the love of doing them.
And now Madeleine is entering an age in which she notices these things. She loves to watch me drawing and painting my "mail art," and often I'll go to her for inspiration on what to draw (if you're noticing a lot of horses and tea pots in my post pictures lately, that's why). I want my children to grow up understanding the value of work and responsibility; but also to feel like it's good to have interests and passions, and that they can follow them as far as they want to take them.
I think that's a good thing to teach, isn't it? I hope it is.