On Writing

By June 25, 2009 No Comments

On Ted.com, Elizabeth Gilbert provides a great take on creativity. The Greeks believing creativity a divine creature that visited you, a demon. Or the Romans calling it genius and believing it lived in the walls, coming out only to urge you on.


In the movie Coming in the Evening, Leonard talks of following his characters, writing about his characters until they do something interesting, implying most of the time they are pretty boring.

In the blog Why We Write < http://whywewriteseries.wordpress.com> created by the Screenwriters Guild during the strike, the answers ranged from “I have to” to “to get laid”. Each essay carried an equal weight. And a distinct viewpoint.

When I am stuck, I walk. I ride my bike. I go climbing. I head up to the hill for a few laps. I hike up Fairy Creek hoping I run into a grizzly.

In one of the essays in Zen and the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury says something along the lines of 90% of his best writing happens when he’s asleep.

What is it that compels some of us to write, or the even greater question, why do those that don’t write aspire to write?

Luanne Armstrong said in a workshop “There are three parts to writing. You have to write. You have to re-write, to edit. And, last, you have to share. Put it out there for others to see.”

The last is the fearful aspect of writing. Standing in front of a crowded room, reading a piece of humor for the first time and wondering, “Will they laugh?” Or reading a piece about a close friend, blending into eleven snowmobilers dying in an avalanche, then back to Cory. Climbing together. Skiing together. And his dying, skiing alone, in an avalanche only days before the snowmobilers.

About the void. Daily, we stand at the edge of a void gazing in. Without speaking of the void itself, we write of what we see.

The risks we take. Physical. Emotional. Professional. Just getting out of bed in the morning can be a wonder.

Waking up after open-heart surgery. Your sternum now sawn in half. Your heart was stopped, then cut in half. A little stitch ‘n bitch as he made his way out, patching, nipping and tucking. Hoping he can start your heart again before the final close. Waking, your sternum now wired together. All your ribs broken. Some in two places. And wondering at the pain. Feeling a fire driving down your limbs with every breath. Feeling pain in the very webs of your fingers. Will it ever go away? Can I last until it goes away?

And wondering at the void recently visited.

Three months later, sitting down in the kitchen with a bottle of wine, red, and the clinical report written by the surgeon. Leaving halfway down the first page. Deciding, this is not the time. Let’s just drink the wine.

In the end, I believe there are long frequency creative tides and short frequency personal storms. Equally, they move our writing. The question remains, when you share, will they see what you see?

The answer is simple. No.

The real question becomes will they see anything? Will they feel something?

That question forces us to look into the void again and consider jumping. So we share and hope, with that leap, we will soar on winds we will never see, will never know.