A couple of days ago my husband and I were visiting Montreal’s Botanical Gardens with friends from the UK. As the sun went down, it quickly got cold so we took the ‘short cut’ through the greenhouses to warm up with the tropical plants. After a long, very pleasant walk through the greenhouses, we finally came to the last one which was filled with pumpkins decorated by school kids and a witch sitting knitting outside her house.
She was chatting away to herself, and to anyone passing by. Her nose was long and hooked, her voice high pitched, her laugh squeaky and very contagious through the little microphone. She stroked her oversize cat and asked people to help her with her knitting, or asked questions of people who blushed, looked away and hurried on. She was clearly enjoying herself hugely.
We continued to the usual exit. Barred. Back to the previous exit. Barred. After finding half a dozen locked “Sortie” doors, we looked for a staff member to ask as we didn’t want to end up right back where we’d started. There was only the witch. My husband drew the short straw (he spoke the best French). Off he went to ask the witch the way to the exit/Sortie.
She listened carefully then straightened up, a huge grin on her face. “Vous voulez sortir avec moi?” she shrieked, erupting into her squeaky laugh. (You want to go out with me?) “Will we go dancing? Will we do the tango? The rhumba?” Wiggly shoulders, jiggly hips, more delighted squeaky laughter.
It was of course not the witch’s job to guide people to the exit, it was her job to entertain and maybe give people a frisson or two!
What a great lesson! When you are focused on your art project/writing:
- don’t let someone with a different agenda distract you. Stay steadfast. When one writes or paints or dances, it’s easy to be distracted by others: by work and chores that one just HAS to do for others as much as for oneself, by envy in someone else’s fortune in getting published, or – especially – by a comment that throws you. I remember having enormous fun with wonderful prompts a group of us had been given. When I was required to read my writing out loud in class, the instructor looked at me with a frown and said “Is that really what you should be writing?” Thequickest way to writers’ or any creative block is to encourage an artist’s inner editor. “Oh, I shouldn’t be writing this!” “Oh, they won’t like this.” Having taught/facilitated creative process in many classes over the years, I forced myself to ignore it and remember that, in my book, any writing I do is the right writing.
if something interrupts you, play off it. Writing a story and a jackhammer starts up next door, shredding your nerves? Write a jackhammer into your story or play or poem. Use the feeling of shredded nerves to push your story forward.
- stay in your own skin. The real key to the witch’s secret to staying on task, and capitalizing on what must have been an annoying interruption, was that she was relaxed and enjoying herself!