Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Misunderstanding and creativity

I have amazing and loving friends who know exactly what beautiful and inspiring things I need and send them to me on a nearly daily basis.

I've been sick for the past few days. Yesterday I thought I might be getting better but this morning I woke up with the mysterious and alarming symptoms of a concussion. I don't think I hit my head, but for the first forty minutes I was awake today I experienced something like aphasia. I forgot and couldn't understand certain words. I could read the words in a sentence but I couldn't understand them or how they fit together to form complex thoughts.

I felt terrified without immediate understanding.

Luckily, without even knowing I might have this problem one of my dear friends sent me this comic.

When I finally got to reading it, and in between paranoia about strokes and meningitis, I started to be okay with the the fact that I didn't know words as well as usual. One of the places I find the most stability and comfort is in language and my ability to use it. I was terrified this morning by having lost some small measure of that.

I still have a headache and probably am not thinking as clearly as when I am 100% healthy. But that doesn't mean I can't create or should stop working altogether. I might slack off a little bit today and only meet part of my writing goal. But I can still show up. Because I don't have to know everything or really even know much to write.

There's this piece writing of advice that I can't stand being thrown around.

"Write what you know."

Now believe me, I understand the importance of research and inquiry (especially for nonfiction and novel writers) and making publishable content accurate to reality. But I learn the most when I write about things I only half-know or know an astonishingly little about. This type of writing is never guaranteed to produce anything substantial, however it presents the most exciting risks and often leads me to a sort of digging deep that I don't reach by sitting down with a known plan in mind. (this is especially true for poetry)

I certainly had other things on my mind this morning (namely frustration and fear) but now that I'm on my way to some semblance of wellness I do wonder, what might have come out of me in my state of nonsense.

I used to be really uptight about what ideas I thought were a good enough to write about. These restrictions kept me from writing poems more than a few times a month. While this mistake probably stopped me from writing some bad poems it also stunted the development of my craft.

These days, barring emergencies, I show up everyday to write despite my bad feelings. Somedays a screen's light is too harsh for my eyes too look at and I let my phone record a spoken outline of my ideas or I just cobble together a collection of what I find to be touching inspiring or upsetting and make notes. But I show up for my craft for at least 10 minutes every day. And it's usually not pretty.

I guess what I'm saying is that the writing process doesn't always look cogent, or knowable or smart. It's hard work to unlearn the erasure of creators methods which are often mired in long and intuitively rich periods of misunderstanding.

No comments:

Post a Comment