As I went into the bookstore today to buy yet another book on the endless pursuit of understanding creativity, I met a wonderful woman at the checkout. Ok, I should confess, the book on creativity was not my only purchase. I also came across the latest book by Sarah Winman who wrote When God was a Rabbit and decided it was coming home with me. The wonderful lady at the checkout looked at Winman’s book with curiosity and read the first sentence from the synopsis on the back: “Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and has lived alone in a remote Cornish creek for nearly all her life.” The lady pointed out to me that it was an awkward sentence suggesting that the main character lives in the creek instead of alongside the creek or near the creek. I started to imagine that this woman and her attention to detail was the perfect candidate for a book club. I asked her if she ran a book club, because I was interested in joining it if she did. Unfortunately she didn’t, but I expressed that her deconstruction of the meaning of that sentence makes her the perfect person to lead a book club. She seemed ecstatic at the idea and told me that it was such a nice compliment. Somehow, moments after that she asked me about my writing and what I wrote and I, blushing, replied that I had published a couple of poems. “Oh Poetry!” was her response and she gave me the backstory on being in Brownies and having to write a poem to earn a badge. The badges were awarded by other mothers and as she bravely went up to read her poem, the mother told her to go home, spend more time on it and come back and try again. Needless to say, she never did receive that badge and now, whenever someone asks her about poetry at the bookstore, she takes them to the section, wishes them luck and walks away. “It’s a battle scar,” she told me “and it’s never gone away
I have some battle scars myself, and those of you reading my words and know me, know them too well. So what do we do with them? There are days when these scars stop me from writing altogether. Most days, I just push through the pain and keep writing despite the critical voices that are still lurking. I haven’t produced a poem in well over 18 months, but I tell myself the journaling is enough and one day a poem will emerge. I think of you reading these words and I keep learning not only for me, but also for you. In search of answers, looking for the right key to unlock the creative healing that needs to take place. Someday I will find it and you will stop reading blog posts that feel like I am writing from the dark, endless forest without a flashlight. I will stop writing blog posts void of calls to action or lists of how to overcome all of your creative hurdles. Then again, maybe I won’t and you can feel like you are in good company in this forest we call art and perhaps someday we will emerge with something beautiful.