When the Lights Go Out

Image for post
Getting busy in my workshop just before sunrise

A palate of paintings sit in my workshop. There’s a rhythm to painting. I remember how each one came to life. Stretching canvas is similar to what I imagine wrestling an alligator is like, Just do what I want already! Only to be defeated in the end. Each stroke of the brush releases its own emotion. Yes! Perfect! or For the love of God, I suck.

Who sells paintings on canvas anymore? I mean, it is 2018. Nowadays it’s the convenience of prints. Copies of copies and digital downloads.

Could you see yourself typing a short story, novella or an entire book on a typewriter? The typewriter has gone extinct like the dinosaur. They have become novelty pieces.

Guest enters house. This is the living room, over there is the dining area and over there is a typewriter.

The creative has learned to evolve. Perhaps it’s survival of the fittest. Conforming and flexing in order to ensure livelihood. Like a lion roaring, I must create!

I’ll figure it out damn it! This is what I said to myself yesterday when I spent two hours trying to figure out how to convert a file on my laptop. I was ready to smash it to pieces and toss it into a cornfield or throw myself in front of a tractor until my teenage son strolled in and in three seconds flat had it done without so much as a thread of frustration.

Writers have gone from handwritten stories, then typewritten and to the current day of blogging on the internet, and everyone is doing it. It’s all the rage. What if I have no interest in blogging, though? What if I want to write stories, an actual story of a time and a place, and an experience?

Artists have put down their brushes and turned to graphic design and prints while performance artists have gone from center stage to YouTube videos. While yes, this is the shizz because you no longer have to leave the house and audition for gigs — at the same time ruling out competition. What metric will you measure success by? Profit? Fandom? Likes and shares?

I often think about my great grandmother and all she had seen in her lifetime from 1889- 1986. Horse and buggies transformed into cars, music became a thing starting with record players(or phonographs, I should say), then 8-track tapes progressed into cassette and then compact disc.

The television wasn’t invented until 1927 and she lived long enough to see IBM invent the first personal computer in 1981.

We can now access our library on our cellphone but it just doesn’t smell, feel or read the same. We writers can independently publish a novel or book electronically every month if we so desire for next to nothing in cost, outside of Amazon’s small piece of our profit.

As we move forward in time and technology the super cool creative techniques become nostalgia.

But isn’t thinking outside the box (or conveniences in this case) a part of being a creative? For instance, what if the night should go dark, the world cease to exist beyond as far as the eye can see or the internet fail altogether? Agreed, the chances are unlikely but it’s always best to be prepared with the ability to create in old school ways.

My husband often expresses the fact that our kids are glued to their phones. They are in a state of information overload, they watch more videos then they read and are in constant communication with everyone they know. What I find most intriguing about his concerns is that his occupation is Information Technology.

So, basically he’s a computer guy worrying about how computers are effecting our children.

I remind him that this is what they were born into. This is what they know. They’re the digital generation whereas we had landlines, Television and AM/ FM transistor radios.

What was once handwritten notes folded and secretly passed in class are now text messages and the impatience and eagerness for a reply back.

When the lights go out (both figuratively and literally), so does the virtual world and we’re left with ourselves. It’s back to pushing pencil and blending color to devise a masterpiece.

It’s no longer about our reach in the world but our own little space in which the true magic happens, and isn’t that what creativity is after all, magic?

Most importantly, it’s being with oneself and growing from a place within our own mind and emotions, executing those thoughts and feelings with our own hands, and not that of the influence of the world via a screen we’re convinced we need in order to be successful.

Challenge yourself today to construct something outside of Adobe Photoshop, Paint or Microsoft Word. Challenge yourself to forego social media and share it with those who are in your tiny sliver of a world. Challenge yourself to think outside of the box.

This is where the magic happens.

Image for post
Artwork and story credit: Myself

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store