My family has become affectionately attached to the local Shakespeare company in town. The name of the company is the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival, though they are a year round troupe that performs in an indoor theater. We usher there, my kids go to their camps, participate in their high school performances, and we help with their newsletter. Basically, we’ve made ourselves supreme nuisances and they’ve grown to love us as much as we do them.
One of the actresses has become a close friend of mine. Over coffee one day, she told me that she had decided to spend the following year in England studying voice and taking a break from the demands of a full time acting schedule. Naturally, I was really sad to think we wouldn’t get to enjoy her performances the following season (which turned out to be this last year). So I expressed my disappointment that she would be gone in England for a whole year.
She said, “I’ve used it all up. My inspiration is gone.”
“What do you mean?”
“Everything I do on stage comes from being among people. I watch them, study them, copy them, know them. After two years of non-stop performing, I lose touch with gestures that are natural, motivations, facial expressions, and even lose the energy to create.”
“That makes sense.”
“I’ve spent it all. Now it’s time to fill the well. The only acting I can offer is that which I’ve grown inside among people. Time to get back among people for a bit.”
I’ve thought a lot about Anne’s words to me. As a writer, I hit the same walls occasionally. I’ve hit one this week. I am out of words. I’ve written and written and written so much this semester for Brave Writer, in grad school, completing the high school book, through teaching and suddenly, I’m all used up.
To replenish, I’ve been listening to novels on tape. I’ve been reading other people’s writing. But most importantly, I’ve been gardening. I’ve needed to step back from the printed word and re-engage with the non-verbal side of life to give my mind and imagination the rest they need.
Don’t forget to give your kids the same kind of breaks. Creative thought takes resources that come from the stuff of life. If your kids have been in high production mode for awhile and suddenly seem disinterested and listless, it may just be that they need a change of scene to re-charge the battery for learning and writing.