One of the reasons I keep writing this blog, week in and week out, is that I love the feeling of creating.
I kind of enjoy looking at a blank page. I kind of enjoy looking at a full one, too.
But I love being somewhere in between — filling in the blanks, and taking the journey, and painting the picture, and having sideways diversions occur to me and having to decide whether to take them, and picking up a paragraph or two of text and moving them somewhere totally unexpected, and looking for just the right word to build a bridge from one thought to the next.
I’m not saying I do any of these things well by any means. But I enjoy doing them the way some people enjoy skiing down a fresh slope or skidding an MGB around a hairpin turn somewhere in the country.
A woman I follow on Twitter (she writes for Runner’s World magazine) recently used the term “pain cave” to refer to 5K footraces. It’s a pretty good analogy, and one that I’m sure applies to races of other lengths as well.
Once you’ve been running a few minutes, you enter a private zone dominated by thoughts of your own pain, tolerance and stamina, punctuated by occasional thoughts of the people in front of or behind you. You go into the cave and do battle with the bear for a while, whether you’re conscious of it or not.
Writing is kinda like that. You go into the cave, and lose sight of everything else, and see what you can put your hands on while you’re in there. And when it goes well, an hour or two go by without you noticing, and you’ve made something that no one else ever quite has before.
Even though it’s probably fiction, I’m going to assume that this week’s calendar finds my grandfather in his own version of that same headspace.
I’ve mentioned here and there that my grandpa was an artist.
It’s probably a topic that deserves more space than I’ve ever given it, because he was pretty good at it. Painting served as his release valve in his corporate days, and his creative outlet in retirement.
The mention of “Canvas Sunday” makes me think of his medium of choice.
Of course, it makes me think of some sort of church activity as well. (Maybe Canvas Sunday is the day when you canvass everyone in the congregation for the money they didn’t give you on Loyalty Sunday.)
And a Google search for “Canvass Sunday” suggests that it is, by and large, a day when people go door to door to spread the word about their particular beliefs. (It seems to be more of a political term than a religious term.)
But my grandpa, a learned man with an eye for detail, didn’t write “Canvass Sunday.” He wrote “Canvas Sunday.”
So I’m going to go ahead and interpret it to mean what I want it to mean.
And what I want it to mean is that my grandpa spent Sunday, Nov. 10, 1968, in the creativity cave … communing with a piece of canvas to the exclusion of the outside world, and coming away from his labors with something new and distinctive.
That’s probably wishful thinking. But I can wish, if I want.
I think he enjoyed going into the cave as much as I do, and he wouldn’t complain about the notion of spending time there. Time in the cave helps us creative types put up with everything else in life.
Unfortunately, mine seems to be just about over for this week. I expect I will crave it, and think about it, and chew on it in the back of my mind, until the next time I can spring myself for another of my personal versions of Canvas Sunday.
See, I’ve got this blank canvas for next week …