Wringing Out the Sponge


I feel like I’ve been in "absorb" mode for months now. There are too many books, too many blogs…it cannot all be done. Anytime I am on the internet I’m checking out my RSS aggregator, taking in the latest posts, following links and then following links from those links.

If I’m caught up on the blogs I read, I sift through delicious or technorati for keywords I’m interested in. And of course, I’ve got iTunes playing the latest episodes of my favorite podcasts or the latest album I’ve downloaded the whole time.

So I’ve been taking it in, as best I can anyway. Which isn’t altogether a bad thing, but if sponges are wet for too long, then it’s just Spring Break for bacteria. It dawned on me that I’d been reading, listening, absorbing without putting much back out. I need to wring out the sponge, lighten up on the absorption and create something. A story, a painting, a song.

Years ago I used to write songs on my guitar. They weren’t any good, and I couldn’t carry a tune if it came with two handles, but when I would sit down with my guitar those were the songs I would play instead of stumbling through some Jack Johnson song I’d (half)learned. That used to be meaningful and now I can’t remember a single one.

I’ll bet someone wise has said something about the ratio of things you learn to things you create. I’m also willing to bet that it was more profound than, "Ehh, about 6 to 1 is pretty good." Regardless of what that guy might have said, I know that my ratio is terribly unbalanced and I can feel it.

This isn’t going to end with some pledge to write five essays, three songs and create one painting in the next four weeks. It’s just to say that the next time I think about going to my Google Reader, I might grab a pen and paper instead. Or, the next time I want to listen to music, I’ll try to write some of my own.

This doesn’t apply to everyone reading this post, but to those that it does: let’s create more. Write a song and play it for someone. Start a podcast and read one of your poems once a week (poems are always better heard than read anyway!). Quilt. Write down a story before you forget it. Scrapbook. Go for a walk and create a memory. Quit reading this blog. :)

3 thoughts on “Wringing Out the Sponge”

  1. Brian,
    Man, I’m feeling you here. It’s almost like I feel that I can’t be creative until I feed myself from the plethora of podcast subscriptions, blog feeds and local shows.
    Do you think our own creativity should take priority over others’, do you think others’ should take first place over our own, or is it the ever-ambiguous answer: it’s a balance between the two.
    I do have a series of poems I’m wanting to write. Thanks for the nudge my friend.
    Also, it’s good to see you twittering!

  2. Reagan,
    I hate to say it, but yes, I think it’s that ambiguous answer of somewhere in between. That is to say that we should feel free to take in all the art and info around us, but only to the extent that it inspires us to actually create something ourselves. When we’re only taking it all in and not putting anything out, then we’ve quit being artists and are now just consumers.
    Hey, congrats on the big victory, Prez!

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