It was my brain that I missed the most.
When the covid monster showed up at our house in December, wrecking holiday plans and disrupting life in general, I found out the one thing that absolutely can top even clean sheets and homemade soup … and that’s getting the old brain back!
I know the creatives out there understand totally … my brain goes a mile a minute. I used to think that there was something wrong with me, until I understood that it’s just the way I’m built. All that wonderful raw energy just needs to be corralled and managed, hence my pony metaphor.
Blessed with good health, for the few times in my life when I get physically sick, that’s the right time to just shut it all down. Sometimes the brain cooperates and quietens down, and sometimes it just keeps racing, but I’ve learned to just ignore it and get the rest I need.
Although I can tune out my busy noggin when needed, and I can usually sort out what I need through the chaos in there, I’ve never had it just totally leave. That was not funny.
To be able to draw, you need to be able to “see” the image in your mind. You need to be able to mentally go through the steps you’re going to take so those signals and messages will go down to your hand and your hand says, Great! I know how to proceed! And you’re off and drawing!
But the hand goes limp when it’s not getting any messages. And the brain doesn’t send any messages when it’s totally BLANK.
I didn’t know brain fog was one of the symptoms of covid. And I actually expect some of that when I’m not feeling well. I get the occasional block when good ideas just won’t come ... but this was way worse than that … it was more like there was no one in there!
When new blogs get posted every Wednesday, I post notices on my social media accounts. Just little drawings related to that week’s blog to encourage folks to go read the blog. Nothing elaborate. I usually can take a weekend and have the 4-5 I need for the next month drawn and ready to post before the month arrives. But at the end of November I was enjoying family time at Thanksgiving and putting up the Christmas tree … I wasn’t too worried. Updates for December and January were already turned in to my web company … I needed 5 posts for December, 4 for January ... I had time ...
I did manage to get the first couple of December posts done. Before the second blog posted, I was beginning to feel puny. By the end of the week, it was obviously not the flu. I ended up getting tested, learned the bad news and went straight to bed for that whole week. But I needed 3 more posts for December, so by the weekend I forced myself to get into the studio. It won’t be so bad … just get up and go knock ‘em out … they don’t have to be spectacular, they just need to get done. Then you can go back to bed and quit thinking about them.
So into the studio I went, picked up a pencil and sat and stared at blank paper ...
I knew what I wanted to draw – I get ideas the whole time I’m writing the blogs – but I just couldn’t get the visuals to form in my brain. So I started sketching … not right … start over … go to the internet … maybe I’ll see something to get ideas flowing … nope … not working … start over … try again … good grief!!!
I even went to my own website to read my own drawing articles to remind my own self how to draw!
I should’ve knocked out all three of those posts in a few hours … it took me TWO STINKIN’ DAYS to do ONE STINKIN’ POST!! Aaaaaarrrgghhh!!!
It might’ve gone a little faster, but all those trips into my brain searching for signs of life wore me out … I had to take nap breaks. Wake up … go back in there … is anybody home?
It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced. I don’t know how to describe the sensation of a totally blank brain. As bad as I felt with the virus, I was alert, conscious, aware of myself and my surroundings, I could carry on a conversation, talk on the phone, answer email … but when I went to pull up what I needed for a creative effort, there simply was nothing there to pull from. The creative cupboards weren’t just bare … they were GONE!
But I wasn’t out of the woods yet … another week would go by really fast and I still needed two more posts.
All of the December posts were Santa-themed and a little whimsical. On the Christmas week one, I wanted a more serious tone with Santa kneeling before the manger. I started working on it the weekend before the blog would go live. New blogs are set up to automatically go live Tuesday night at midnight when the calendar rolls over to the new day, so many weeks I’ll stay up late on Tuesday evening to load the corresponding posts for the next day. But again, I worked and worked for days and days. Sometime in the wee-wee hours of Wednesday morning, the 22nd, I gave up. I simply could not get the thing drawn. So that one ended up being silhouettes of the figures. My drawing style is a bit cartoony, and I think the silhouettes kept a more somber tone for that one. I’d call it a happy accident, but I think that was my sweet Lord just giving me a little mercy … it certainly didn’t come from my absent brain. It sure would’ve been a lot more fun to have figured that out the weekend before, or at least at 4 pm on Tuesday, rather than 4 am on Wednesday!
One more to go … and I was determined to get this one done in a more timely manner and got to work on it.
It was the end of the fourth week and I was beginning to feel much better. Got my appetite back and day by day I got a little more energy. But I was still struggling to draw the last post, and I managed to get it done, but honestly, I don’t even remember doing it! It still took days and days, and, once again, it got posted in the early morning hours of Wednesday … but December posts were DONE!
What a nightmare!
But it all ended well. Like another gift from heaven, by the end of the last week, I was firing on all eight cylinders again. By the time the new year arrived, February updates were almost finished and social media posts for January were ready to go ... I was just about back on schedule ... I had survived the nightmare!
There is life after covid … but be warned … things might get a little weird … welcome to the Twilight Zone …