Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Done Thinking; Out Manifesting

Every great work, every big accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement.-Florence Scovel Shinn

The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.-Vance Havner

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.-Epictetus

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.-John Keats

When a writer is creating a piece, he or she cannot possibly know what’s coming next. The journey of creating anything is analogous to the act of feeling around to see what exists in the dark. You discover bits and pieces of the whole individually and then find the connections later. There is no “yellow brick road” to follow, no sure technique or path that will get you over the last rung. You’ve simply got to trust the voices of your characters, and hope that they’ll lead you to the envisioned destination.

Everything is discovered word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. More importantly, that discovery is hardly “set in stone” or “final.” It is subject to change at any time. The ambiguity in the writing process is analogous to a treasure hunt in a darkened cave with nothing but a small candle flame or flashlight. Who knows what you’ll find and who knows when or how. To further complicate matters, what you think you may see may not be what it first appears to be.

There will be struggles, there will be ambiguity, but there will also be plenty of exhilaration and living if the writer allows himself to let the process lead the writing and the journey. Intuition has a funny way of revealing its mystery at the end of that path, and the only way to get there is to feel each and every scene that it unravels on the way.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Water Under the Bridge

My 15 year old self once stumbled upon a poem with the title "Water Under the Bridge." For some reason my current self can't seem to find it. She's curious to revisit its words, but the search has come up empty. Perhaps she's looking in the wrong place. Perhaps it only exists in the parallel plane of the past. But its meaning and its value have remained intact and I suppose that is what is much more important.

A river or any body of water can separate two sides of reality. It can make it more difficult for humans to switch places, make progress, explore, discover, bridge gaps, and become "something else." The water is impartial because it is omniscient. It reflects and cherishes both worlds. But we humans build these things we call bridges, in order to make it "easier" and more "convenient" to get whatever we want, to open up possibility, to go back and forth between one world and the next as if we could be as carefree as a butterfly and not experience any consequences for our actions. We try to outsmart the water, thinking that if we cover up a portion of its reflection that it will allow us to be blind.

Water cleanses. Water heals. Water knows that you have to let go in order to keep moving. Water sees where you've been, hears every thought and hope, feels everything you've felt, and is well aware of why you chose to cross those safe and trustworthy bridges in the first place. In order to do that you had to turn your back on something. You had to let something go. You had to make a choice. Whatever happened, happened. It is gone. It is "water under the bridge." Making choices for the present based on who you were, where you've been, and whatever occurred in the past is silly and detrimental to your current Self. You are no longer that person. You no longer live there. There is no reason to keep punishing yourself once you realize that the water is the true bridge. And what could have been, what might have been if you had chosen a different one needs to let go, too.