My friend Red is getting married.
This is one of those wonderful bits of "personal business" that's been providing some of my offline distraction lately - I'm thrilled for her, and for Steve, her fiance, and I'm in the wedding party. (And by the way, not all the "personal business" is nearly so wonderful... but never mind. Let's stay in the happy place.)
So last night we had a little engagement party for Red and her man down in a dive bar on the Lower East Side - well, really more of a "dive bar" in that it seemed like one of those artful reconstructions of the real thing than the actual thing itself - and I was reminded of what it is to be friends with my Red... part of a smart circle of really interesting folks.
It was great to see the "Brandeis Girls", friends from her college years who've remained remarkably tight knit and connected; and the other ones, like me, that Red's collected over the years, and who bounce off one another in interesting ways making fascinating sparks.
I mention all of this because I wound up in a long, fun conversation with an actor friend in this circle, husband to one of Red's most supportive friends (and beautiful, even at nine months pregnant like last night). Joey is a real working actor, a journeyman who's found his niche in many ways, and works pretty regularly in a field that's not the most secure. After talking about his most recent theatrical experience, we moved on to a wide ranging musing about acting, writing, and creative pursuits generally.
We talked about the challenge of talking about writing, or really any creative endeavor - that really, you don't want to share much, that we hold our work close to our hearts, and the act of showing them is a brave one. And that, if you share to much, it may keep you from creating the work: talking, rather than doing. I was sort of interested to hear Joey say that he doesn't talk about acting, and it's true - he'll tell you what he's done... but not the process of what he's doing, how he finds a character or creates a role.
Writing is hard; we were both keenly aware of it (and so was Red, who admitted the grind of daily blogging was getting to her). And it's hard, sometimes, to get started and keep going. Joey mentioned a playwright acquaintance who was a runner, like he was, and they talked about the "seven minute warmup" of running - that you have to run for about seven minutes before the endorphins kick in and it becomes a kick, even fun, to do it. But you have to go through the first seven, often painful and difficult, minutes to get there... you can't avoid it.
The creative process, he pointed out, was very similar; you have to take those "seven minutes" of pain to get to a place where the writing, or the whatever, just flows, and when you do - like a painter friend he has who can go days just painting and sleeping in his studio space - you may not want to stop.
And I thought... Exactly.
It was just the conversation I needed - talking to someone who "gets it" about the creative process, the process of creating. Letting out, for just a moment, the dreams and ideas that animate what we do.... and remembering that what we do is hard, and rewarding. And we do it because it's hard... and rewarding. And I thought it might be nice to share that with you.
And to get on with the seven minutes. Thanks, Joey.