Writing anything is creative, no? Narrative non-fiction, any sort of non-fiction actually, blogging, article writing, all are creative endeavors.
But those’re mostly left-brain undertakings, where you have a plan, an exact theme you’re writing to, usually with quite rigid specs. That does, though, still take some right-brain spark to make it worth reading.
Fiction, however, is an entirely different playing field. It takes inspiration, and an ethereal quality that’s akin to an athlete being in the zone, to pull off with any sort of decent results.
It’s a falling into the spiritual abyss with all the uncertainty and fears that spring up from the dark silent places. Because to write fiction well, you have to be willing to let your characters go where they want, rather than be shoved into the slot you made for them in your head.
They’ll fight you if you do the latter. And become beige and flat.
But if you let them run, along with the feeling of flying without a net, they’ll take you to places you’d never dreamed.
I Just Came Here to Dance came to me in a literal dream. I dreamed driving over that steep hill, the sunlight filtering in dappled visions through the trees, shards of it piercing and sepia and all the world perfectly a-glow. Then down that hill into a nether world I had never before known.
I dreamed the kids playing stairball up and down the bleachers of the gigantic though dilapidated coliseum, looking at any second as though they could tumble to their deaths.
Dreamed Paula Anne finding herself plopped down—through events she couldn’t have foreseen—on Diana Maclean’s porch, amidst myths and fairytales and, maidens and crones, and her very own version of Blue Duck come to life.
I thought I knew where this story was going.
And anytime a writer does that, she’s just fallen into the pit of delusion.
Because if the story doesn’t veer off 180 degrees from what you thought, you’re not letting the characters run nekkid across the wind-swept moor, the tiger on their heels.
Okay, so that doesn’t happen. But mixed-metaphorically speaking, anyway!
And if you do let them run, oh, my, the places they’ll take you! This is the moment of bliss.
What my characters often teach me about life are things I swear I never knew. Which isn’t possible, no? Has to be in the deep subconscious somewhere, right?
Or does it?
Because there is the personal unconscious, and then there’s what Jung termed the collective unconscious—that deep pool of knowledge available to us all.
And when I’m plugged into it while writing, wisdom flows that’s not from me.
It is, simply, my most reverent form of prayer. And I’m so blessed that this prayer often goes on for hours, days, if all is right with the world, months while I’m neck deep in a novel. Ahh . . .
Never do I feel closer to the Divine.
It’s this very numinosity, this floating on the gossamer wings of the creative muse, her whispers in your ear, which makes all the work parts of it worth it. And then some. It makes life rich and full and bursting with luscious delights.
As Mythologist Joseph Campbell said, “Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself. To a certain extent, you become the carrier of something that is given to you from what have been called the Muses—or, in biblical language, ‘God.’” – The Power of Myth (with Bill Moyers)
What has writing taught you?