?! ?! ?!

April 17th, 2010

The Interrobang is my favorite punctuation mark because it says WTF? and WOW! at the same time. Curiosity and astonishment are qualities I need to cultivate and nurture in order to stay interested in my work. Unfortunately, my old friends apathy and inattention are always lurking and waiting to move in when my guard is down. When that happens, I have to think up ways to get excited about life and art again…and again and again and again. Here are a few of my tricks:

1. Order lots of art supplies I don’t need or know how to use from Dick Blick.

2. Fall in love or lust. Either will do. Unfortunately that’s not as easy to order up as Sakura gel pens.

3. Give or throw away lots of things — it never fails to clear a mental space for me.

4. Work on something difficult for me like Photoshop or French; I can’t obsess about a dry spell when my brain is working like an ox.

5. Magazines — as many as I can buy and lots of different kinds to feed the idea bank, from Psychology Today to Selvedge to Esquire to Elle Decor to¬†Vanity Fair to Fast Company (and I even miss Gourmet even though I’m an indifferent and impatient cook). I never know where I’ll come across an image or a phrase or an article that will set me off on a creative safari (or a creative wild goose chase). If I only read what I’m interested in, I start to repeat myself. It’s part of what Twyla Tharp calls “scratching for ideas.”

6. Reading poetry doesn’t make me feel competitive the way I do when I read prose I wish I’d written; instead, it’s like giving my exhausted inner writer a glass of champagne. Most recent purchase: Flying by Beverly Rollwagen. Most likely to kickstart my writing motor: Jane Kenyon or Mary Oliver.

7. Heart-rate raising, hair-raising ¬†aerobic exercise, which I detest in all its forms, always makes me feel shiny and new, like I’ve just been saved at a Holy Ghost Revival. Not exercising feels so good, but I know it works and there’s no way around it.

8. Taking a book to read and a journal to write in to a coffee house in order to be around other people. Their conversation works like white noise for me and helps me get into a zone of concentration that I sometimes can’t manage when I’m home alone with too many distractions.

9. A glass of wine and The New York Times on a late Sunday afternoon, preferably on my porch in summer and on my couch in winter. Opening one of the last real newspapers in the country never fails to give me something to look forward to no matter how dull I’m feeling. It’s rare that I don’t find a piece somewhere in the paper that pulls me under and throws me back to the surface dazed and amazed.

10. A long shower or driving on a road trip. With either one, I go into what I think of as a humming state of mind. I’m cut off from the outside world, away from work or responsibiity, in a duty-free zone. I wish I could simulate those conditions at will.

How do you work the interrobang?

3 Responses to “?! ?! ?!”

  1. m. heart says:

    If it’s summer, I take my camera out into the garden and inevitably, while photographing the expected flowers and greenery, my heightened sense of awareness shows me something fantastic that catches me off guard.

    My new yoga class (only 7 weeks in) provides me with many, many ?! moments. As in, “you want me to do what?!”

  2. nikki says:

    I’m looking forward to my wonky knees letting me back in yoga. You can on do one things at a time in yoga and that’s yoga itself.

  3. Listening to music often opens up all kinds of creative and emotional vents for me. A lot of my art is inspired by music.

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