I’ve been reading through the novel I started writing about 7 years ago. It started off as a few lines of writing inspired by a walk in a small town in rural NB about 4 years earlier, followed by a sketch I wrote in a notebook while at the Northrop Frye Festival a couple of years after that walk. When I put the two together and began to write I had no idea where the story was going. The first version, completed four years ago now, was a novella – slightly over 30 000 words. Three years after sending that out into the world and receiving some great feedback and advice, I began what has turned out to be a year long process into turning this little sketch into a full blown work of writing.
In going through the starting pages, trying to focus more on the story than on the typos and grammatical awkwardness that result from trying to write the way people think and talk, I’m finding myself smiling at the memories that initiated the creation of this work that’s grown into something so different from what it started as. It’s interesting as well, the way I can see that growth mirror some of the growth I’ve experienced over the 11 years since those initial few lines were created.
It has me thinking about how the creative process works and how sometimes such small things – the sound of the crickets outside, a child reaching up to hold her mother’s hand, a bird who swoops low to the ground then soars back up – can be the catalyst to create an entire novel, or some other work of art. It also has me wondering what little event or sight or smell may kick start the next story I work on.
However, I’ve found myself resistant to letting my creativity flow away from its current focus, for some reason feeling as if I invest myself into something else – new plots, and characters, and motivations – I won’t have enough in me to give my current ones. I’m okay with that though – and holding in that energy for the moment I feel I can let it out.
Instead, I’m focusing my energy on my current project and enjoying soaking in the ideas of other people, appreciating their creativity, and having fun guessing the ways in which some little observation or experience led them to write the words that awe me.
I read something like this from a friend today. It was an intro to a piece he’s been working on and plans to start performing shortly. He told me about the hours he put into perfecting it. My guess is he used the simple experience of walking down the street, observing leaves blowing in the wind, to create metaphors that made my skin shiver with their goodness.
Writing about all of this is exciting me even more for my next creation and wondering about what little thing may trigger it! I think that ‘holding in’ of creation may not be able to be held much longer – and it’s about time!
My fellow writers – and all other artists out there – care to share some of the seemingly simple moments in life that were the sparks to take you on the journey of creation?
Join the conversation!