Squeezing the Sponge (Tarot of Michelle)

A friend’s theory of creativity has gotten me through many instances of writer’s block.

Many years ago I wrote a prose poem, inspired by a friend’s theory of creativity, about how the creative process is like squeezing a sponge. You can read the full text of it here.

my friend anne told me about her theory of creativity many years ago. she said we are like sponges, absorbing everything life has to offer. then eventually we get full and have a creative outburst where our lives and loves flow back out again.

—Michelle Rau

When I have writer’s block, or am not feeling enough creative energy to actually do something, it reassures me to think that I’m just in the “absorbing” phase, and that the time for creative expression will arrive on its own timeline.

Illustration by the author

But maybe I have a deadline, or I want the closure of finishing something, or something’s tickling at my brain and I can’t rest until I’ve resolved it. Sometimes I have to squeeze my sponge, whether I’m ready or not. Trying to force the issue like this works occasionally, but more often, it’s awkward, frustrating and embarrassing, punctuated by procrastination, snacking and self-talk that alternates between “this is ridiculous” and “you can do this.”

and it’s true that what gets squeezed out of the sponge isn’t always clean…but i would argue that it’s always healthy.

—Michelle Rau

It’s hard to know when to wait, and when to squeeze. This card reminds me that it’s okay to be unsure, and it’s okay to wait, and it’s okay to squeeze, and if squeezing doesn’t feel right, then it’s okay to wait some more. And if what comes out of the sponge is dirty, I can clean it up later—that’s what edits are for.

A story behind one of the cards in The Tarot of Michelle. Follow the developmental art as a Patron on Patreon.

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