The decision to pursue a writing career at 49 years of age was, perhaps, the best move I have ever made in my entire life. Apart from providing me with an outlet for my creative juices, it has helped me redefine myself, as a man and a human being. I feel like I know myself, better, as well as my many parts.
For me, there is a certain, unexplainable something that occurs during the creative process. I get lost, almost in an ecstasy of caffeine, cigarettes, and—of course–words. Things melt away from the periphery, leaving only the stark whiteness of the blank page and me. Nothing else exists.
That is the beauty of blank space; the open conduit that connects to my various parts, tapping into a sweet—sometimes bitter—harvest of silent pictures, grainy memories, and words that rage. It is often in delicious anticipation that my eyes are glued to my laptop screen. Eager to see what—or who—will project itself upon the naked page, I find myself letting go of my care for convention and the sense of safety I have always cleaved to. Only total surrender to this process can offer the freedom me and my parts hunger for. I have tasted the nectar from this sweetest of fruits and am, now, trapped (at least a part of me) within the shadow of my own Underworld, where I can hang with my shades and compare battle-scars.
The world must come crashing in, however, at some point. Since very few of us can traverse our worlds—creative and mundane—at leisure, the reality of work, school, family, and other day-to-day obligations must be dealt with. It is this constant pull between the two that elicits such angst among creative folk, who try to forge the paths toward their passions without the benefit of a generous patron or hefty savings account. Ultimately, responsibility and one’s daily grind must have their due.
More often than not, find time to write is not only a challenge but ends up feeling self-indulgent (a silly thought). From the outside, it may seem to be a perpetual pursuit of the fruitless – a never-ending search for the “cherry high” we will never experience, again…or ever. But, that’s not it. Writers have to write, painters have to paint–plain and simple.
Exploring our parts is not only a necessary component of developing the self but a crucial one. Much of the lack of fulfillment people experience comes from never stepping a single toe outside of their self-boundaried boxes. As a result, their lives may seem limited, feel stagnant. Sometimes, one has to throw open the doors and pull down the curtains to let the light in. It doesn’t matter how much dust is stirred up in the process. How else can we truly see ourselves and the blank spaces we have created for what they really are? Writers (all artists) get that.
Once a writer (artist) has the tools they need to live a life, unfettered, stripping them away will be almost impossible. Akin to getting a genie back into its bottle, one who has entertained their creative-self—fed it—can never really feel satisfied, again, unless they continue to create. They have “fed” the beast and, eventually, it will want more.
It has been two months since I have written any original poetry or short fiction and I feel like shit. Deadlines loom. Papers need grading. Clients clamor for service. It feels like the world has won out. So, I pray to my muse for the answer. Even though things have not slowed down any and—in fact— have gotten crazier, I believe she has heard me. How else can I explain the ghostly taste of sweet pomegranate on my tongue, calling me home?
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Photo credit: By Ekaterina [email protected]