Julia Cameron defines divas as those artists/creators who have to have everything JUST RIGHT before they can create. She notes that there's power in being able to create anywhere under any condition. I used to be that nimble, adaptable artist. Now, I'm not. I never wanted to be a diva, but I'm a diva.
I have a list of things that must be true before I can write.
1. I must be migraine free, or at least moving in that direction. Migraine directly and adversely impacts the language center in my brain. Words cannot escape the electrical storm inside my head to reach the external world. Some days, I lose speech. So really. To get words on virtual paper, not writhing in pain is strongly preferred.
2. I must be alone. Buckle up. This is a long one. Maybe you've noticed the long fallow period writing and I have been mired in. I sure have. Part of it is having four adults in the house at all times, thanks to a pandemic (and Dad's health issues.) I've always known I need a lot of space. A Lot. Prior to Covid, I got all of my alone time while people were still commuting to offices for work and the parents were out in the world going on adventures. When that shut down, pressure and heat and terrible stuff began building inside me. It drowned out the voices of my characters. After a while, it drowned out me altogether. It was at that point that my headache specialist noted I am suffering far more sensory issues than can be attributed to migraine. I mentioned it to a friend. This person reached through the internet, shook me and said, "You're autistic AF, and you're in autistic burn out." Uhm. WHAT? Found a therapist who broke it to me that my friend is right and it's time to learn what that means for me and how I cope with it. It's a great big rock dropped into the still pond of the life I thought I had. Lots of ripples, lots of reframing my past, lots of 'Oh. THAT'S why that happened that way.' With help and resources, I've learned what masking is and, in part, how and when to stop doing it. I've figured out what my stims are, and I'm allowing myself to use them. Most importantly, the reason I need to be alone is so I can drop all the masks and not have to worry about what someone else sees or feels as a result. It seems to be working and actively helping. Words are flowing again. Characters are talking to me and volunteering scenes. I'm hopeful.
3. A locking door. This goes back to being alone. Fortunately or unfortunately, my cats are clever enough to open a latched door. There's something about me writing that makes me popular to ALL the felines. Never am I so loved as when I dare to pay attention to something without fur for two hours a day. How dare my every waking thought not be about the felines? They tag team surfing the desk and my keyboard. They headbutt me in the chin. Hard. They flop into my arms and deploy the weaponized cute. They shake their tails in my face while blocking my computer screen. When the weather is reasonable, I can go out front into the enclosed porch. A bunch of accusing eyes glare at me through the sidelights. If they see me look their way, they add in their mournful wails of anguish that I don't love them anymore - alas, Mother! Why do you hate us so that you have shut us away from your loving embrace?? And maybe the lizards out front. It's very dramatic. When the weather is messy for one reason or another, I lock myself in my bedroom where I have a desk set up beside the window. I can chase cats out and close and lock the door - yes, I have an actual office, but there's no door on it. It's out there in the middle of the house with no means of shutting out the TV or attaining any kind of privacy. Not to mention the attention of every last cat in the house. It's a no go. Shutting myself in the bedroom results in Corvid rattling the door knob, body slams against the door in forlorn protest, and the occasional hissy scuffle while someone jockeys for the best position.
4. Quiet - as part of the autism discovery process, it's clear I have auditory processing issues. Competing sound (TV on, someone talking to me at the same time) sends me right over the edge. If I'm trying to listen to voices in my head, I really need to not hear other voices. The closed doors help with this a lot. Ear plugs and/or noise canceling headphones playing ambient music drowns out the stray bits that leak through. I'm on a Wardruna kick at the moment. Yeah. I know there are voices, but I don't speak the language they're speaking. It works and I don't question.
I'm going through a process of giving myself permission to need what I need. Even if it makes me a diva. I've had to give up any notion that I should be able to write the way other people write - either in word count or in when and where I *should* be able to write. Rather than trying to guilt myself into 'write anywhere, any time' I've tried making space for being weird. Embracing that has finally fixed the long-standing impression that I'm broken somehow. And hey. Words are happening again.
I'll take it.