Practice Makes Process

My blog comments promise only incidentally, to be about writing.  “How to” or “Why” and certainly not ever, “Why aren’t you?” don’t really interest me. What interests me is “process” and how to recognize it in our daily lives and mine it for our creativity.

For example, I spent the better part of my career as an actress. But way before that, when I was a girl, my parents raced greyhounds for a living so I grew up in the backseat of a car going from dog track to dog track through the 40s and 50s all across America.  Then, when I landed in New York I was one of those nicely fortunate actors who didn’t have to take another job.  I had been on Broadway, off-Broadway, I lived on a houseboat off City Island in the Bronx for five years, (don’t ask) then moved back to Manhattan on the upper West Side. During these years I worked on television and radio.  I gave dinner parties. My boys went to school… grew up.  I had been a wife, (twice,) a mother, (twice,) I had divorced (twice,).  Made a little money, then didn’t, then did.  I moved to Los Angeles just in time to watch the acting jobs thin out under me.  But I had, and was living this big far flung life. Writing was how I could see what I was thinking—on paper.

I began to see that everything I had chosen, even the things I had not; all the accidents, the mistakes, any gifts and tragedies were all part of the same big landscape and every single experience brought home the value of “process” over the more demanding and far less creative “result.”  I had to learn patience, which once annoyed me—the rewards of practice, which I resisted like a lunatic—why some things worked and others didn’t,  for I didn’t take well to being wrong—and I had to keep going whether I liked it or not because there were others depending on me.  I was hip deep into life and turning back was not an option.

I am not at all sure any of this would have caught my attention when I was younger, hungrier, more determined to succeed.  But once I could look back I saw “process” married to everything I did.  Once, when making a risotto a friend watched me stirring and asked if I knew that I could do the same thing much more quickly in the microwave.  Dear God. Ghastly thought.  I would miss the soothing motion of stirring, the warm fragrances rising to my face, the changes in the texture of the rice and worse yet, I would miss forty minutes of good conversation with my friends hanging out in the kitchen.

Writing is risotto. Writing is gardening. It is parenting and relationships; friends, lovers, partners. It is carpentry and music and math and how all art presents to us if we slow down and take a look into the nooks and crannies of our quotidian lives.  In fact in my opinion art doesn’t lie outside us, but inside.  Art is fired by talent, yes, but performed by process which is the metaphorical glue between disciplines layered throughout our daily practices. Here’s what I’m guessing; maybe an “artist” is one who is awake to navigating the natural world and able to borrow from it to do the work at hand whatever that may be.