What can you possibly write, After all these years Of forgetting your own words, That matters? All the abandoned thoughts Forgotten ideas Lost potential, Exiled within Graveyards of paper And writing That died too soon. You have taken the easy path As if just writing was enough, Never questioning Your own stifling assumptions And unexamined beliefs And those incessant stories, Incongruent with your reality. But there is another way, Found in the space between Your words And your experience, Where creativity becomes possible again On the mercurial frontier between The hauntings and intimations Of your inner life, And the emerging situations and circumstances That claim you In the outer world. Only you can know this space. You cannot invite anyone in. No one else can force their way in. It is yours And yours alone, Utterly unique And utterly remarkable Because it is where You are. Can you turn directly into The full force of your own life, Escape the dreariness of information And the distractions of other people’s knowledge, To undertake the real struggle Of following your own creative spirit To discover meaning In the life that surrounds you? There are questions You cannot answer, But that doesn’t matter. Let your limitations guide you. Some questions can only be lived And the mysteries they faithfully protect Experienced Preserved Cherished Even loved. You must share your art with others. Do not expect anything. Your work will not resonate with most And it doesn’t need to. Creative work is an offering Not a promise. Once you release it, Your art lives a life of its own. When your creative work goes out into the world It will eventually return to you, In ways you could not have imagined. So, in those first uncertain moments of waking When the night still speaks to you, Ask yourself, What can I write that matters? And then rise And fully inhabit The space between Your words And your life.
- I wrote this poem to facilitate my creative work with transformative journal writing. Poetry is a deep creative practice that takes you to the outside edges of your ability and knowledge where you must find a way, on your own, to move forward.
- Jane Hirshfield has written insightfully about the art of poetry: “Every good poem begins in language awake to its own connections — language that hears itself and what is around it, sees itself and what is around it, looks back at those who look into its gaze and knows more perhaps even than we do about who are, what we are. It begins, that is, in the mind and body of concentration.” (The Effortless Effort of Creativity: Jane Hirshfield on Storytelling, the Art of Concentration, and Difficulty as a Consecrating Force of Creative Attention)
- Two insightful quotes by Thomas S. Kane (The New Oxford Guide to Writing):
- “If a journal is really to help you develop as a writer, you’ve got to do more than compose trite commonplaces or mechanically list what happens each day. You have to look honestly and freshly at the world around you and at the self within.”
- ““Words are not simply an expression of the self; they help to create the self. In struggling to say what we are, we become what we say.”