Vacations from what you do

April 6, 2006

Taken literally, “vacation” means to vacate, presumably one’s home or city or country, in search of some kind of rejeuvenation and rest. Now vacation can mean sitting on your ass for two weeks watching TV, or travelling, or doing house renovations, or putting your old stamp collection in order, or going skiing, or going camping, or gambling, or … It ultimately seems that the gist of a vacation is to get away from what you normally do. The reason vacations are smiled upon by employers is that the employees come back refreshed, with new energy, physically, intellectually, and emotionally recharged. Much of the world has micro-vacations every Saturday and Sunday. We school teachers get our summers off, and some of us that are really lucky get paid sabbaticals every three years to catch up with our research.
I think of my cyclical love for the music of Igor Stravinsky.

Every three years, I have to listen to everything Stravinsky ever wrote. Then, enough: stop: move on. I’ve just gone through my second Rufus Wainwright cycle, climaxing in starting a book about his music. Then I had to stop, not listen to any of his music for a while. Mark Carlson commented the other day that this was the first time he had not heard any Rufus music at our house, either on the piano or my computer.

I like to take vacations from composing music. I build up an incredible steam, well, I actually call it being musically horny. And then POW! The music comes flowing out.

Burnout is the enemy. Automatic pilot stagnates.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

moonbug April 8, 2006 at 1:39 am

Musically horny! I like that term! 🙂
I fully agree with what you’re saying: in order to come to a deeper appreciation of whatever it is you’re into, it’s good to deprive yourself from it every once in a while. Coming back to it later, I’ll find new angles and a renewed enthusiasm. I will go weeks without drawing and then, one day, I’ll be picking up my pen and draw like crazy. A visceral sensation! Temporary abstinence as fuel for creativity. Freud was right all the way, wasn’t he?

Roger Bourland April 14, 2006 at 9:47 am

Horniness seems to be the closest thing I can come up with to describe the creative momentum one builds up after a period of abstinence. It may seem an odd image to non-artists, but you, being one yourself, know what I mean!

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