My Writing

Creativity is an odd thing. It doesn't come easily at our bidding and retreats when ignored. It's much like a shy child. The more we call it forth, the more easily it comes. I am learning (again) to listen when it calls to me, to write the fragments it gives me and then to let them simmer in its care until all the mixed metaphors and jumbled ideas blend into one cohesive piece.

Creativity is not comfortable! It's constant pins and needles, or sitting on the edge of a precipice, or giving birth. Although this last is certainly not original, it is apt. With creativity, like birth, it is the result we strive for, not comfort. (not that we'd mind some comfort!) If we truly want the result, we endure the discomfort.

Creativity also often requires patience. Patience is something some people develop. Others of us seem to lose more of it each year. Writing (for me) requires the coming together of often unrelated thoughts, making an order out of chaos. It's hard, sometimes, to wait for the details once I've centered my main thoughts.

Some have managed to order their creativity. They have the result clearly in mind when they start and are able to proceed in an orderly fasion. (Would that that were I!) For some things, various needlework and crafts, that's true for me. I see the end and am able to plot the course. But it doesn't work for me in writing. I get a phrase in my head, or a 'what if...?' or, worst of all, a feeling or mood I feel compelled to capture. I try to plot and outline, but (to rephrase my friend Will)

                             Oh, in what web I'm entwined
                             when I have plotted and outlined!
Somehow the steps just aren't as clear. So I muddle through, not really knowing where I'm going. Fortunately, it often works for me for something short. Somehow I know when I'm done and I can go back and make it flow smoothly from start to finish, no matter how jerky it was to start. It's the witing skills I learned in school, I think, that take over at that point. Creativity has spit out her one percent.

For something longer, like a real story, the struggle is much harder. There it's more difficult to fill in the spaces creativity has left between her offerings. It is here that my lack of patience and lack of discipline show up. Creativity's content with her one percent, but alas, I'm not yet up to my ninety-nine percent--perspiration and patience.

For patience in writing is not idle waiting. It's sitting with pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, writing something, anything, until it starts to make sense. If I stop I might not get the full one percent, or it may be much longer 'til I get the next one percent. So, I have to keep going. Sometimes it's so boring! Cross stitch can also get boring, but at least I can se the picture taking shape without needing to rework every stitch. With words, I might not be able to see clearly until I'm sure I'm finished and then it needs to be totally rewritten (usually several times) for anyone else to understand.

The worst part is when I finally get some flow going and my pen is sailing over the paper, but it ends up a paragraph or two behind the ideas my muse is pushing at me. Some of them get lost before the pen catches up. With my typing skills (?) it's much worse! Something I've found different between my needlecrafts and my writing is how I receive others' reactions to the final product. When I've finished a cross stitch picture or quilt, I like to show others and I appreciate their comments, but unless it's a gift, I don't really care a whole lot what they think. As long as I like it, I feel good about having made it. Sometimes very good! The colors and the overall impression are all I care about. Do not point out my mistakes!

In my writing, I care about my readers' response. Most (okay, all) of what I've written is poetry, short, short fiction and essays (as represented in this website). In these I want to evoke a feeling or a mood, to entertain, and maybe to stir up a little thinking. I'm sure I puff up noticeably to any and all praise I might receive, but what I really long for it the honest, fair and kind critic, the one who says "I liked the mood it evoked, but..." or "That's a great character, but..." or anything nice "but..."

I won't try to impress you by saying (falsely) that it won't bother me. It'll flatten me faster than praise puffs. It'll probably hurt and I'll probably be defensive. "I worked so hard and long to get that just right" (Uh huh.) "What does that person know about it?" After those responses, I'll think about what the "but..." was. And I'll think again. Then, maybe, I'll learn something from it and expand my ability to use this gift of words.

Creativity is an odd thing. Try to capture one thing and end up with something else entirely!

1998 by F.S. Junaid

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