Thursday, April 29, 2010
Waiting for inspiration
Ok, so I'm still stuck on editing and beginning to believe it is a bigger concept and more about how people process. Even who we are.
Some of us process verbally and put it all out there to be sifted. And, for others, it evolves more slowly and internally, emerging more formed. There are probably combinations and we may switch off, but I have really begun to notice these two distinctions.
I also think much has to do with whether we are an extrovert or introvert.
In the creative process – whether it's art, nurture, ministry, writing or anything else – I don't believe those of us who do it one way, should expect that is THE way. Hum, sounds like a conversation on religion.
When I was younger, I was astounded by two depictions of the writing process. One person would sit alone at her desk for a very long time in silence and THEN the keyboard would explode. Another said she had to wait for inspiration. Heck, I was always on deadline, how can you wait for inspiration, I thought. Once I had my facts, I had no problem spewing, then later editing.
That was commerical writing, for me.
I've since matured, I hope, and write in a completely different way – at least for myself. I used to rely on an outline like a Bible or trusted road map. I still do, on occasion, when I am writing for somebody else and want to be sure to include all of the salient points.
Journaling, however, has taught me a very different process. One influenced by many years of yoga, meditation and worshiping in the Quaker way of silence. One of waiting, feeling, bodily imagining and seeing what emerges.
I seem to go to the place in myself that is unsettled, probably where the creative fire is burning. And sit with it a little. Sometimes not long at all. And I just feel it, swirling or welling up. Like a volcano pulsing, molding and then erupting onto the keyboard. Sometimes into the chalk in my hand and onto the page.
I've never thought about it this concretely before and, in doing so, seem to divest some of the magic.
Nevertheless, whatever has been welling up has done so for awhile and seems to come out somewhat constructed. Possibly edited. It's very much like when I feel led to give vocal ministry in my Quaker meeting (church). There was a very long time in my life when I never thought I'd be able to stand in a group and speak. It's still never easy, yet I am pushed to be the vehicle for a message. Not my message.
First there's a tightening of the heart as if it has been pierced by truth from somewhere. I usually try to push it back down with the inner critic saying, "No one wants to hear that." Or "That's your ego, not a true message."
If it dies out, it wasn't anything. If it keeps coming back and making my heart race, my palms sweat and my legs wobble, then I know I will soon be standing and speaking. Fortunately, Quakers have readily shared this discernment process and the first time I read a description that captured what I had felt, discovered comfortable affirmation.
I have also been told that to be really faithful is to stand and have no idea what you're saying. That has only rarely happened to me and, I suspect, is more the manner of a verbal processor.
Last summer, my 12-year-old whispered in my ear during worship that she thought she had a message to share. I said stick with it and if it doesn't go away, it's probably yours to give. I could see her nervousness and knew it was hers. I told her I'd stand with her and hold her hand if that helped. She went back and forth, the same thing I internalize, when I asked "will you regret it if you don't say it" and she replied "yes." So we stood and I must have trembled as much as she. I will never forget that wonderful day, nor the people who stopped her after worship with a silent hug or words of encouragement. This was not our regular meeting, but they knew this was special and her first vocal ministry.
So what if our messages, out in the public, are our vocal ministry? And what if some have been pushed through an internal editing factory already? Are they any less valid than those that have been tweaked externally?
• What is the current message my life speaks?
• How do I deliver it?
• What is my creative process?
• Have I molded it to the expectation of others or freed myself?
• Can I nurture others in that expression?