the fallow period

by Sandra

Oh, I love Daniel Day-Lewis. Maybe not for the obvious reasons, though. Last night as I drove back home after feeding Levon’s turtle, I had on NPR and heard a man’s wonderful, soft, Irish lilt. I didn’t know who it was at first, but after several moments of intent listening, I realized it was Day-Lewis talking about his new film There Will Be Blood.

I had just caught the tail-end of his interview, but what he said in those few minutes stuck with me. Robert Siegel asked him why we as an audience do not get to see him more often on screen. His reply was this:

“I couldn’t love it as much if I did it more often, as simple as that,” he says. “It’s not in retreat from that work that I go in search of other things. It’s with the very positive feeling that I would like to learn about other things for a while.

“And I personally believe those two lives go hand in hand. They need each other. I don’t think I’d have very much to offer if my experiences really were taken from other movie sets.”

And at that moment I thought “Yes! Exactly!” I sometimes wonder about my writing, and how I can go days or even weeks sometimes and not do it. I think to myself is writing really what I should be doing if I don’t have a burning, passionate desire to do it every single day? And sometimes I think that yes, that’s true and I get discouraged, but other times I think that’s a silly philosophy — that writing is but one channel that my creative juices flow out from. But there are others, like photography and baking, and I don’t get down on myself if I go two weeks without baking anything, and I’ve gone months before not taking a picture of anything. Somehow, because I see writing as this chosen thing, that it’s the thing and I had better be on top of my game all the time because I’ve got a $100,000 education on the line and arugh! That’s a recipe for disaster right there, all that pressure.

Day-Lewis also likens the creative process to farming, and how fields are left fallow for a season, that to continually plant new crops actually ruins the soil. I really like that analogy. It’s realistic and it’s level-headed and it’s true. It’s true of a lot of life, not just writing or acting but of relationships and health and spirituality. Even Solomon said something similar in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

Day-Lewis’ whole interview is good. You can listen to it in its entirety: here.