A friend who asked me how I felt coming out of the anti-social networking closet received a grimace. “It’s like a body graft,” I replied. “As though I’m taking a bit of me and putting it somewhere else.”
In a manner it is, and I suspect that is what we’re all doing with every communication on any platform with anyone, and I mean that not only figuratively but also literally. According to Lawrence Krauss, every single atom in our bodies probably came from a star that died a million years ago. If that isn’t grafting through communication, I don’t know what is!
But this grafting is also the bottom line of creativity, as I am finding out. My sojourn from social networking was not intentional — it became so. While I was writing, time quite literally became metaphysical. I existed in terms of scenes; at completion of one, I would emerge from a hermit-like state to contact family and friends, only to realize several months, (mere moments since I’d begun), were passed.
In retrospect, I was a woman possessed. In what I can only describe as the deepest love affair of my life — for no other word can justify such a sentience of existence — my waking and sleeping were aligned to one purpose. Every second was lived with the intention of being useful to my creation.
Three years passed like that; and now preparing to publish, I figured there needed to be some fallow period, a time to rest.
But the truth is you’re not a writer unless you’re writing.
Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish 2006 Nobel laureate, once said of his creative process that as a young man he wrote everywhere, on absolutely anything. Show him a wooden chair, and he would take out his little notebook and write his thoughts on that. As an adult, though, he plans most of his work, he controls where the story goes.
I love him, and this is good advice, but I’ve decided I am an accidental writer. It’s not something I understand, and each time I’ve forced myself to write I’ve always come up with something less than satisfactory; but it is something I appreciate and am truly grateful for.
I hadn’t planned my book or the characters — I merely let them take over, and they walked me through the story so it was never a conscious act of story-building, but one rather of discovery — and a discovery which, inarticulately, felt right. I knew, without knowing why, that this is where the character had to be; and only much later, when the story took another turn, would that decision truly justify itself.
Writing is not easy, but it is harder still when it is demanded.
Which is why I have never been able to do x number of words a day. There have been times, agonizing times, when I’ve written nothing for weeks and months, and dreaded that perhaps I will never write again (yes, clearly the glass half-full type); yet there have been others when food, sleep and anything else that could potentially be a distraction was seen with suspicion lest it steal away precious seconds.
For me, writing has been a hunt.
A concept or an idea lingers somewhere just out of reach;and patiently, very slowly, without giving it any inkling that I am pouncing to attack, I approach from several directions until suddenly it rears its head up; and that is the moment of pure pleasure. To have grasped what I was always unconsciously heading towards.
I cannot imagine doing this as a job, from 9-5.
For as long as I hold the idea that it is not something I can control, I am in a strange way more confident — if I can feel the awe, mystery and nervousness of uncertainty, I am encouraged to try beat myself, improve thus my art.
Professional writers may tell you this may not work in the long run. In fact, John Cleese blatantly said “Creativity is not a talent, it is a way of operating.” And the more I write, the more I learn about the very creative process which engulfs me. What had seemed a kind of magic, where the door remained shut, and my footsteps carved a rhythm into the floor, now is an order of which I had been only latently aware.
This blog is an attempt to find that discipline in writing, which, merging all my interests, banishes the excuse of writer’s block, pushes past known boundaries and limitations, so that there is always more to be. The fact that this has been the central theme of my book, and in many ways of my life, is perhaps only fair. You cannot have lived with a singular idea for a long time without it having an impact on your thinking. I can only hope that the pursuit of objective thinking has not in fact made me a subjective observer.
To that end, please return to see a post here every couple of days. Keep me in check with your opinions and take on subjects lest I drift into a self-serving philosophy. Subscribe using the many tabs, and know I would love to hear from you. For a start, how and where do you create? Leave behind a webpage, a blog, photolinks or a comment.
Until then, may the space between your thoughts and words be small.