What can you possibly write,
After all these years
Of forgetting your own words,
All the abandoned thoughts
Graveyards of paper
That died too soon.
You have taken the easy path
As if just writing was enough,
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
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,
And utterly remarkable
Because it is where
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
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,
What can I write that matters?
And then rise
And fully inhabit
The space between
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.”