The Creativity Makeover
I am in transition right now, and there is nothing like feeling oneself in transition to also find oneself meditating on life past and future possible.
My husband and I decided—it seemed randomly—to undergo a major renovation in our house this year (literally, this month; literally, right now). It started with a seemingly innocent question: how much would it cost to reupholster our old living room couch (a vintage 60’s red leather beauty, which leather was sadly rent at every seam, gutting cotton filler)? And the answer to that question was so onerous, so preposterous!, it began a stream of discussion that ended with: we might as well renovate the whole main floor.
The timing was serendipitous—as timing always is. Our two daughters had just “moved out”: the elder to New York City for an extended internship, and the younger to Montreal for college (which also includes being away for the summer for work and extra credits). And now our house was manifesting—in the most literal way—the transformation that had already started to aggravate me, to challenge me, to terrify me… to seduce me. From now on, I would be living without the ever-present emotional, kinetic, sublime energy of my precious people.
I was devastated by the loss of their presence. And I was besotted with the idea of creating in a whole new way. A way that wouldn’t be fraught with the awareness that—at any moment—my work might be interrupted so that I could truly connect with a child’s latest development or adventure or need. For the first time, I would come first. I could.
Here is the truth: my children never, ever stopped me from being creative. When they were little, I would write at night; when they were older, I wrote when they were at school, or while they ate snacks or played with friends; when they were teens, they were home much less, exploring their own creative lives at school and on their own, and it was easy to make room for my work. I never felt like I didn’t have “the time” to write. If I lacked energy, well, writing reignited it, like any good exercise.
But my kids were always “there”. Their energy was its own glowing being—vibrant and incandescent—with or without them in the house. It illuminated and fed how I worked and what I worked on. It saturated every fibre of what was ultimately produced. It informed my writing in unexpected ways. Whether it was from their stories, their experiences, or from their emotional vibrations. There was always a symbiotic relationship. How could there not be?
And now they are gone. Maybe temporarily, I know that. But certainly gone for now. And to emphasize the point, the house they grew up in is going too. The corners (into which they put themselves when they were naughty) are gone; the floors (over which they danced and cavorted) are gone; the walls (behind which they studied or watched TV or created masterpieces) are gone; the space that captured, briefly, that bright sparkling energy is transforming. Becoming something that will only be animated (right now) by the energies of my husband, our dog, myself. And, yes, my work.
But what will become of that work? Where will it grow? How?
It’s hard to answer those questions right now because of the renovation chaos—which is way more disruptive and unnerving than my kids ever were! But on its completion, I do anticipate a period of rejuvenation. That the space where I write will once again inform what I produce (and the other way around, inevitably). And that the new symbiosis will create something I haven’t yet “met”.
It will be, I imagine, a process as unexpected, joyful, frustrating, confusing, wondrous, devastating and sublime as raising children.
Canadian writer/actor Barbara Radecki has acted in many films and television shows, including a lead role in the film The Death of Alice Blue and regular roles in such series as Throwing Stones, Good Dog, 11 Cameras and Getting Along Famously. She was a key member of the team that developed and produced the award-winning independent film Expecting, in which she also co-starred and for which she was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award. As a writer, several of her screenplays have been optioned, including a teenage psychological horror, a coming-of-age adventure-comedy, and a musical-comedy and webisode series co-written with writing partner, Deb McGrath. For three years, they also co-wrote the award-winning blog The Middle Ages. Barbara is currently working on a novel, The Darkhouse.