Back in the 70’s during gas rationing, my grandfather and I would idle in the gas station line together on “Even Days" so we could fuel up our cars.
For those of you post-rationing folks, cars with license plates ending in odd numbers could fill up on “Odd Days,” Mon-Wed-Fri, those of us with even-numbered plates could fill up on Tues-Thurs-Sat.
If either of our tanks fuel levels had dropped below half-a-tank, Poppy insisted on it. Spending this time with my grandfather would have been enough, but, as an added bonus, he’d pay to fill up my tank, too. (A much needed and appreciated college student “gift”.) Poppy got a kick out of it, too. As he neared the front of the line, Poppy would get into his car without a backward glance at me. After filling up with the allowed amount of gas: 10 or 12 gals, sometimes only 5, Poppy'd pay, telling the attendant “Put that cute blonde’s gas on my tab, too,” and drive off.
Poppy’s rule about refueling often and never letting your tank get below the half-full mark has stuck with me. Whether true, or an old car talk myth, Pops said all the yuck settled to the bottom of the tank. So, if I allowed my tank to get low, along with fuel, all the sediment and unwanted gunk will be sucked into the engine.
In that way, writers, artists, anyone who creates, are like cars. Our creative "wells" can run dry, too. Tales of creatives "refueling" are many and varied, some legendary: Hemingway & Steinbeck went adventuring; Parker and Fitzgerald shook and stirred. Others, try perhaps less entertaining, but more healthful routes such as Julia Cameron's The Artist’s Way. This 12-Step Guide to Creative Recovery, suggests weekly artist dates as a way of topping up our creativity.
To outsiders, and worse, to ourselves, “Filling the Well” and “Resisting,” as Steven Pressfield in War of Art calls procrastination, avoidance, and other obstacles that keep us from creating, can seem to be one and the same. Therefore, guilt or that darned clock—tick tick tick-Time’s-a-wasting-Slacker—can stop us from taking time to recharge our creative spirits.
Eventually, just as my 79 MG Midget sputtered and died on the way back from Lake Tahoe the one Sunday night I didn’t heed Poppy’s warning to never let my gas tank fall below half, our joie de create can sputter out.
While I absolutely do not believe our creativity can ever truly dry up. I know energy for, and interest in, doing the hard work it takes to rejuvenate, re hydrate, revitalize a shriveled creativity spirit can dwindle. Why risk it? Much smarter, and definitely more fun, to follow Poppy’s lead and refuel regularly.
Since February is the Heart month, with International Book Giving Day smack dab in the middle on Valentine’s Day, I’m devoting my February posts to “Loving Up” and "Filling Up" our creative wells.
Bonus: If you buy a Children's Book to Give, let me know and I'll join you by donating a book in your honor.
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Until then, I’ll be playing Mimi. My favorite newish way to refuel.
Time For A Top Up!