A conversation I had with my mum when I was fourteen has been replaying in my mind. The memory goes like this:
We’re sitting on a bench in the school playground. It’s evening, it’s cold and I’m cross. My younger sister is progressing faster on the cello than I am on the violin. She’s just got a distinction in her most recent exam, while I’m struggling to scrape merits. (Why I couldn’t just be proud of her I’m not sure, but the sibling rivalry was strong)
Mum is trying to reassure me. “Your way of learning things is just different. Kathryn’s a brick wall – she stacks on thing on top of the other and improves bit by bit. But you…well…you’re a soup.”
A soup?! This does not improve my mood. How can being a soup be good in any context?
Then she explains: “You take in all the information, absorb it, it simmers in your brain for a while and then, at some point in the future it all comes together.”
I begin to feel better. This makes sense. I often feel like I don’t understand something, just can’t ‘get it’, and then suddenly have a light bulb moment.
But over the years I had forgotten this conversation. I’ve been trying to force myself to be a brick wall again. Although my ’52 Improvisations’ project was helpful from a personal development perspective, I just couldn’t seem to upload one improvisation each week. In fact, the majority of the improvisations were recorded over the summer at my mum’s house. (You can hear her metal fan, paper lampshade and banjo)
This doesn’t mean I can’t work towards things steadily. I do it all the time when I’m teaching. It just doesn’t seem to work with my creative projects. Letting ideas simmer and then realising them in a burst of creativity works much better. I think that’s why my NaNoWriMo albums work so well for me.
So this year I’m not going to force myself to be a brick wall. I’m going to embrace my soupiness. That means I’m not going to upload things on a set schedule (sorry, algorithms!), but I will post at least once a month, freeing myself up to work in bursts, letting things simmer in my brain for as long as is needed.
Featured image by Foodie Factor