I first read The Blue Sword when I was nine, possibly younger. I absolutely adored Robin McKinley’s writing voice, proper and gentle yet with a reliable steel when and where needed. It was the voice of a narrator who saw all and could be relied upon to deliver everything you could need and want to read in the story.
I rented it in hardback from my local library. Repeatedly. I’d always return it just in case someone else would stumble across it and love it as much as I did, but I would inevitably end up grabbing it again in a few weeks or so time. A conservative guess would say that I’ve read it more than twenty times. A less conservative guess would say more than fifty.
The Blue Sword is more than simply a book to me. It’s sacred to me. A totem. A safe space and a feeling of home in a time and place where I didn’t often feel safe and never felt at home. Though life took me far away from that library, I came back to it as an adult, ordering my very own copy to keep with me always.
This is the book I always come back to for a read when I am feeling far away from my writing and my creativity.
When I need to refill the well.
I think I first heard of the concept of refilling the well on Lynn Viehl’s blog – though I could be wrong about that, as I can’t seem to find any references to it. (Perhaps Stephen King’s On Writing?) The basic gist is that you can’t, as an artist of any sort, continue on creating forever with no input. Whether you make zines or murals, we all need to take time to find our inspirations. To refill the well of what drives us to create.
I’ve seen so many people make posts or status updates, guiltily ‘confessing’ to not working on this or that. I imagine I’ve done the same thing at some point or another. But there’s nothing to feel guilty about.
It’s taken me an unfortunately long time to remember this basic concept about life as an artist. To remember that, as creative people, we need to feel inspired. How we go about it is up to us to find. Perhaps taking yourself out for a coffee is the best, going to an art gallery, or sitting at a local park and watching people for a while. A marathon of your favourite shows or reading your favourite novel could be just what you need.
Do I wish I could be so creatively filled to create a Don’t Call Me Cupcake on the schedule I started last year? Absolutely. Do I wish I could have embraced writing my next novel two years ago instead of now? More than I can say. But I’m tired of feeling guilty about taking all the time I need and needed for both.
Time to release yourself from the guilt, too.
To each their own process. To each their own time.