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Creative Process

People often ask me where the ideas to write my creative musings—poems, short stories, novels—come from. They don’t tend to believe me when I tell them I have no idea. The fact of the matter is they just come, and in a lot of ways I am at their mercy.

Take tonight for example. I had a VERY busy day at my day job, a playful afternoon with my boys, then an emotionally exhausting trip to the Arena Stage to see a great play (John Grisham’s A Time To Kill—not exactly fluff). I came home, ready to go to bed. Checked my e-mail, my Facebook page, and went to wash off my face, get in PJs and start my date with the Sandman.

As I was walking around the house, words began to filter into my brain. Words that were not sing-songy, but not a coherent story either. I wasn’t thinking about my day, or the play, or the kids. The words were more random than that. It was, I realized rather quickly, the beginnings of a poem. But I was tired. I did not really WANT to work through a poem. It was nearly midnight and I have to work in the morning. I thought to ignore it. But then one of the myriad of voices in my head warned that if I went to bed it would be gone by morning. Another of the crazies laughed and reminded me that resistance is futile. I would not be ALLOWED to sleep until I got it—the words…the poem—out of my head.

I literally felt my fingers itching. The pace of the words in my head was increasing. They were forming lines. Frenzied stanzas. A concept was actually forming and dear God it needed to get expressed. I began speaking the words. Almost whispering them, but the whisper wasn’t enough. I knew it was coming one way or another. I dashed to my office—I needed pen and paper (as a side note, although I tend to type out these blog-type postings, my most creative efforts must be done with ink still). I sat in the middle of my bed and began to write. It was incoherently coherent, but it flowed. The words were jumbled, yet began to clarify themselves. The sound of the thunderstorm outside was fueling these words. Something in me said there was more than one meaning to the words I was writing, but I didn’t have time to analyze or think about them—they just had to get out.

I wrote several pages in a notebook. Crazy lines and arrows were rearranging the words as I wrote them. Scratches and scribbles until finally…completion.

I could go to bed.

But no.

I looked over them and realized that already I was having trouble interpreting the chicken scratch. I had to make sense of it now or never. While the feeling was fresh, the mood right. NOW to the computer. Type it out. What in the hell does that say??? OH! I get it. Whew. Done.

Ok, there it is. My process. I feel not at all in control of it. More like it is in control of me. And as I read what I’ve just typed frantically, I think this particular monkey still has a firm grasp on my back, but on the up side it no longer has me in a choke hold. I think with the posting of the new poem here, and the posting of this blog entry/conversation I can at least go to bed.

Am I nuts? Perhaps. But crazy may make for good creativity. You be the judge! And feedback VERY welcome!!!

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