Today is the first day of fall, and here in Texas it is finally cooler and a bit rainy. “Hygge Weather,” I call it, and for this year at least, at my house late September to late February is “Hygge Season.” No one knows what Halloween and the holidays will look like, but we can be pretty sure that being cozy at home is still the best way to go, at least for those of us city-dwellers. So, I decided to try and take a bit of control over these things we can’t control, and embrace the positive.
Yesterday, in my Instagram archive, an interesting post popped up from seven years ago. I was in East Texas at The History Center in Diboll, TX, researching for the novel I was working on at the time. (And technically still am, as I put it away with about a third of it left to finish.) My research was centered on the more salacious bits of East Texas history, not something I’d really make into a print. At the same time, that research is still very valid, as I still go back to the materials I copied to check my facts around locations, names and milestones as I create art around and write Pine Curtain Stories. I put my novel away when my professional career started to ramp up, and I didn’t have any time to devote to it. I had often regretted not finishing that story. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I have many fewer regrets because I see that time wasn’t wasted. The work I put in then is helping me now, and who knows, maybe I’ll eventually drag my book back out and finish it, too. So, if you’re struggling or feel like you’ve wasted creative time on a project that fizzled out, don’t worry so much. Put it aside and revisit it from time to time, and life may surprise you.
As I keep returning to Homer as a creative focus, the concept of Ghost Towns rattles around in my head. Ghosts of the past, ghosts of what might have been. Literal ghosts? Some say yes. And yet, to me, it never really felt sad or like it has dwelled in missed opportunities. Homer’s population is small, for sure. It has hovered between 350 and 500 for most of my life. But it has always been so busy and vibrant. At the same time, it was definitely insular, “the bubble” as I call it, and I did have a hard time acclimating as my life got bigger. So, in a way, those woods and fields are also full of ghosts I loved and then left behind.
So, how does this circle back to art? As I have mentioned before, for me, art helps me make sense of things that are hard to process and harder to articulate. When I am making a print or painting, especially for this project, it opens up new parts of my mind to communicate with, and to communicate without overthinking. At the same time, art begets art, and when I am working on a piece, thinking about the story behind it, my mind is more open to ideas about future pieces, or stories, or research I want to go back to.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke