I live in Portland, Oregon. That means I live in the rain. A lot of rain. This winter it's felt like most of the time I've woken up in the dark, walked the little dogs in a slightly less dark and by lunchtime, the dark has morphed to gray - still technically dark in my book.
But there's a change in the air. There's a shiny thing in the sky that people tell me is the sun. The crocuses (croci?) are clustered under the elm and robins are all about gossiping at full volume at an unspeakably early morning hour.
It's all kinds of awesome.
But the dark has been useful - creative wise. It causes you to turn inward, to think, ponder, muse. And a lot of creativity comes from that dark place inside - fears, worries, those tiny ants of nail-biting anxiety that work their way into dreams and make 3 o'clock in the morning cold sweat central. I don't care if you're writing a zombie apocalypse manifesto or creating a masterpiece of smiling rubber duckies. It all comes from that place.
But you can't stay in that dark forever. That's what makes spring so, I don't know - springy. That's when you kick up your heels like a spring lamb and gambol - seriously, you can gambol. Try it. That's when you get thee to your drawing table, easel, writing journal or keyboard. And you're ready for it.
I had the good fortune a few days ago to speak to a class of adults taking a picturebook course. The drive to the school was a dark one - gray, dripping skies. And I started my talk pretty much saying the writing and illustrating market is hard, hard, hard. Dark, man, dark. But then a student asked me what I'd be doing with my life if money were no object.
I didn't even have to think about it. I'd do the exact same thing I'm doing now.
I actually attended the school I was teaching at about 28 years ago. I wanted to be a working artist so bad I'd cry in class. I feel the same way now even though I've added writer and teacher to those wants. Suddenly I felt like the luckiest duck in the world.
When I left that talented class, I stepped out not into a gray Oregon day but into one that sparkled. The sun was out, the birds singing, and the grocery store down the street was having a big sale on cereal.
Does it get any better?