The importance of doing something else

Illustration by Carl Larsson

As New Year's Day approaches it is natural to take stock of one's life and ambitions. I've always considered myself lucky that I've known exactly what I wanted to do with my life: tell stories through words and pictures. But, this single-minded focus of passion can sometimes be too intense.

So, I think it is necessary to cultivate other interests. Sometimes it is important to follow one's curiosity in order to spark more inspiration. And, also, it isn't fun to be 'all work and no play' all the time.

My efforts in doing 'something else' are two-fold. One: I'm rekindling my love for playing piano. And, in the spirit of winter and all things Northern, I'm working my way through my rather heavy book of Edvard Grieg Piano Works. (Hence the Carl Larsson illustration to head this post; more Scandinavian inspiration).

And Two: I'm also contemplating a sabbatical in a rather different hemisphere. Some time-off to tend my creative inspiration and give some breathing space for the soul. (More on that later).

But, for this Christmas season, I want to leave you with a few songs from my Grieg Piano Book to inspire your creative studio time. I won't inflict my own playing on you, instead I've found some other, very accomplished, people on youtube to play them for you instead. Enjoy!


Norwegian Melody




Im Balladenton



5. (the one I could play 10 years ago, and need to refresh...)

Hochzeitstag auf Troldhaugen

6. And... as a special treat, the piece I have been playing for 10 years, and still working towards perfection.

Poulenc's Novelette #1


And the best part of all this is that none of it really matters. Whether I play the pieces well or dismally is of no consequence to me or anyone. All I'm doing is keeping my soul engaged while I grope through the darkness trying to turn my passion into a reality.

One of my heroes, Madeliene L'Engle, often described how she would work tirelessly on perfecting her Bach fugues, because the mathematical precision of them helped her to order the plots of her stories. Perhaps that's what I'm doing, subconsciously... using music to help order my creative mind.

And, thinking about ordering plots... I must escape into my imagination and get back to writing chapter 4.

And, I'm curious about other illustrators 'other interests.' What do you do to keep your creative soul balanced?