Creativity And The Exhausted Mommy

Man, what a night. Sam is having some tummy trouble (i.e. a really bad case of needing to fart but she can’t). I’m not sure if something I ate is passing through to her via my breast milk or if the problem is that she’s still gorging herself because I overproduce. I only nurse her every three hours now, at the doctor’s suggestion, but she still pulls off half the time and starts to spit up.

Poor Sam grunted and wailed most of the night, but was especially bad from 2:30AM until 5:30AM. I had planned to get up at 6 or 6:30, but you know that went right out the window. Sam’s nighttime feedings are now at 8:30PM, 11:30PM, 2:30PM, and 4:30PM. Each feeding lasts at least half an hour (not including time for diaper changes) and most nights I don’t get to bed until 10:30PM, so you can guess how little sleep I’m getting even when Sam isn’t up screaming in the wee hours of the morning.

The big problem with being up all night is that I also need to be up all day. I don’t have time for a nap. I should probably make time, but as I’ve said before, I can sleep when I’m dead. My waking hours right now are divided between taking care of both children, cleaning the house, and doing my work. Oh, and exercise. Can’t forget that. I’ve been able to keep up with most everything that I need to do, but I do find myself suffering in certain areas. Namely in the creativity department. Not with regards to writing though. I’ve been working on a short story the past two weeks, and it’s been going pretty well. It won’t be the best piece of writing I’ve ever done, but the story is coming together and that makes me feel good.

No, my creativity problems are coming in my drawing and graphics work, which really irks me. I started drawing when I was old enough to hold a crayon. At age three or four, I won a prize in an art contest sponsored by the Wonderful World Of Disney. The prize was a View Master Give-A-Show Projector and I still have it tucked away in Cassie’s closet. It still works too.

I drew my way through elementary school, even though we had no formal art classes there. I drew the intermediate and high school, and was voted “Most Artistic” by my class mates my senior year. In college, I drew a comic strip for the Collegiate Times. It was one of the more popular strips in the paper and it ran for four years. And then after that, for some reason, I sort of stopped drawing.

I kept doing art in some form or other, but not the kind I wanted to do. The comic strip was the last thing I can remember doing that really felt creative before I hit the real world. I had wanted to go to art school when I graduated from high school, but my father said no, I was getting a degree in a real field that would pay me money. Well, I got a degree in broadcast journalism and never worked in a radio or TV station. I did work briefly for a local newspaper… selling advertising. That sucked rocks. But every other job I ever got involved art. I did computer graphics for Radford University’s communications department. I designed t-shirts for a silk-screening company that went belly-up. I worked as a clerk in an arts and crafts store (and hated every minute of it – I firmly believe that arts and crafts stores are designed to suck the life and creativity out of their employees). I spent four years drawing computer graphics and designing briefings for a two-star general at Langley Air Force Base. I did animation and web design for the Air Force as well. But my original love, drawing, sort of fell by the wayside.

I tried to keep my creativity alive with other projects. I costumed. I ran a website called Xena Warrior Milkmaid. I started doing 3D graphics, using Poser, Bryce, Carrara and other programs. I got extremely good at making photo-montage comic books. I even put together some cool animated cartoons. But no drawing. No paper on pencil.

Then about two years before Cassie was born, I signed up for a colored pencil class at a local art museum. I loved it. In two years, I only turned out two drawings, but they were the best, most gorgeous pieces of work I’ve ever produced. One is a crayon drawing of an apple that looks so real I think it’s going to fall off the page and hit someone in the head. The other is a drawing of Mary Queen Of The World, a cathedral in Montreal that Michael and I visited when he attended a conference there. I love both drawings, I loved taking that class, but when Cassie was born, I couldn’t figure out how to get back to drawing. Hell, I couldn’t figure out how to get out the door. Cassie was what Dr. Sears would have called a “high need child.” I just called her a screaming terror. No way could I take her into a classroom full of people to draw for two hours.

So I dropped the classes and that was the last time I really did any drawing. Then in February I picked up a book on fantasy cartooning and decided I needed to pick up the old pencil again and get my rear in gear. I have this secret desire to put together a small selection of my own artwork and put it up for auction at a local science fiction convention. I listed that secret desire on my work goals for this quarter. I’m in the midst of coloring a mermaid I drew after reading the book on fantasy cartooning. It looks beautiful, although it’s taking forever to finish.
But it will get finished, and then I’m faced with a real problem. What the hell do I draw next? This is the question that has been plaguing the last two weeks. It’s what’s been keeping me up at night when Sam isn’t screaming. It’s got me so spun up that I don’t know what to do. It’s a creative block and I hate it.

I never had problems figuring out what to draw when I was a kid. I never lacked for ideas. Now I can’t come up with any. I’ve got to jump start my brain, get my visualization skills back online. It’s crucial to my survival as an artist, and guess what, it’s also crucial to me as a mom. My sanity depends on my ability to work. It always has. If I don’t have anything to do beyond take care of the kids and clean the house, I will go nuts. I’m already half-way there, so why make it worse? I’ll be searching for my creative side until I find it. Until then, sleep can wait.

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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One Comment

  1. Hey there 🙂 I ran into your post while doing a random blogsearch under “Xena.” You ran the Warrior Milkmaid site, eh? Wow, that’s a really funny site, I remember seeing it before. (Btw your link’s kind of messed up.) Are you still into X:WP? I love meeting other fans. 🙂

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