A book is a place where a storyteller can safely let all their chaos, shadows, darkness be revealed in full, and with glee.by Tania C.
I think most days you forget that with each action, reaction, decision, word, you make, take, utter, you are deciding who you are that day.
Most days you function in the automatic, being the same person you were yesterday and the same person people around you — based on the image you have created of yourself externally — expect you to be tomorrow.
In reality, every day, at every moment, you are deciding who you are to be. Every day I can decide, for example, if I will be a powerful storyteller, or if I’m a being amidst chaos at work.
Week after week, I’m choosing the storytelling path, and recently, I woke up inhabiting the same body, in the same bed I had gone to sleep, but with an idea so powerful, that it has been transforming my life since.
This idea is making my storytelling going verbal, oral I mean, like our forefathers. I have several projects cooking up, watch this space, (this is a keyword, more on that later) and I am preparing for it!
I wrote some truths today. Gut-wrenching truths, heart-to-knife truths. But in a good way.
Blood on the page is a good thing, turns into tint. It’s life, it’s emotion, courage, darkness exposed to light, even if it hurts, badly.
Artists are never safe from themselves.
In every day lurks a discovery that will shake the foundations of who they are and how they are to be from that very moment onwards.
There’s no permanence, no calm, no peace.
In finding the bleeding wounds from which authentic voices are brought forth, truths spring forth with no warning, revelations, connections, epiphanies and transformation.
[This is an extract of a novel I’m working on, something that is a mix of a memoir and a treaty on the creation of the artistic process]
The life of an artist is made of intensity of emotions. Nothing is felt in half measured pints.
When you feel you are in a rink and people are throwing punches of invalidation, disregard and bias at you, suddenly, there is someone in your corner, seeing you as the international best seller writer that’s lurching within, you feel like Rocky, and suddenly you are punching back!
An interesting tool available to writers “in construction” is to create the cover of your next novel, as it is going to be when it is published, adding all the desired seals of approval. It may be prizes, academic accolades, “international best seller” labels, it may be a seal of “notable book”. The trick is look for the adult you want your child-book to be, and follow its example. For me it would be Big Magic meets Bride Stripped Bare.
I created the cover of my next book about metaphors for the writing process, a sort of memoir of how I came to be writing it, chose the real title and the font for my name, put the real logo of the publishing house I would like to publish it, and the seals of best seller I would like it to have. I had one copy of it with me at work and showed it to one friend, the one day I went to the office this week. I also created the first page of that book, that black and white one that comes with a space where the authors sign their autographs.
I then imagined myself signing books for people including all the people who are not really paying attenting to my messages at the moment, all the ones that are invalidating me.
This friend asked me to make a copy and sign it for her, those pages of a novel that doesn’t exist in physical form yet, it’s but 82 thousand messy words in a messy file. I did it, I signed it, as I would, with a dedication and love, but a bit worried that the copy didn’t come out perfect.
Later that night the importance of that moment hit me. I was in the shower and I saw myself giving my first autograph. It hit me so strongly that I bent down crying, it surprised me, the power, it was a punch to the gut, I had no idea it was even there. Gratefulness washed over me.
Part of me knows life isn’t certain, I could die in the next moment, part of me isn’t sure of anything, of any achievements, of any deserving, and another part knows the future, knows that it is just a matter of time, and a lot of persistence, and that I take with coffee, every morning.
I went deep, open heart surgery, opened the ribcage, wrenched up the organs and found, behind layers of civility and order and logic, over explaining, proving myself worth it, my overdoing of everything well done, my dissecting of all meanings and rage at anything that doesn’t make sense, behind all that I found a Feral Child.
Wild, raw, naked and barefooted, long, tangled hair, a child who runs with the wolves, fearless, unbidden by past or future, by civility or reason, unworried about consequences or niceties. Elemental, she roars.
She doesn’t care who sees or doesn’t see her value, she doesn’t care of other’s judgement, all she wants is to run in the forest and to swim in the river…
From her, the words coming forth are brutal, animalistic, and as powerful as a beast. Let her come…
It isn’t only that you are allowed to be lazy, the rest of the world is too.
Lawn mowers are silent, motorbikes and cars almost absent, only the birds are determined enough and even them are muffled.
The sounds of the falling rain are relaxing to the spirit, washing all need to strive, all fears of missing out. It quietens the world out there.
Cancels parties, festivals, events, gives the mind the certainty that everything else has stopped, not just you. No wonder you thrived in lockdowns, if you can appreciate a week of rain, months of nothingness are a balm too.
When so much is happening within, the chaos, the fire, the cells transforming by the billions, every aspect of you, changing, the outer peace is a great blessing.
As the rain falls, there is time for writing. You talk to the cockatoo that comes in for a visit, and smile.
There is a quick way out of chaos, straight through despair and out the easy way.
Interestingly, the easy way, is the hardest one in the slightest longer run.
The ability to stand the uncomfortableness of an unstable situation, manage your own emotions, will allow you to wait for the harder, but more rewarding, opportunity, which will serve much better in the long run, that making a rushed decision just to get out of the storm wouldn’t.
Think from inside the pressure pot, analyse the situation, stand your ground, be sure of your own value… those are the things to remember not be swayed around by the winds and the storm.
I have recently been to Billabong Retreat and attended an inspiring workshop on the philosophy behind the Yoga Practice. They are called the Yamas and Niyamas and I realised that they can actually be applied to anything, broad or specific.
I’m thinking of them for me as a writer…
I vow to be kind to myself and others, and my characters, even when the evil or misguided ones, I understand their path. I enjoy the journey and do not pressure myself, remembering that pressure is different from commitment.
Honesty in thoughts, words and actions is always in my mind. I accept each of my days’ reality and surrender to my limits. I am authentic in my expression. Before talking I ask myself: Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary? Does it improve on Silence?
I respect possessions, time and energy; mine and others. I do not invade space or ideas, I don’t rob people of their peace or fulfilment. I don’t rob myself of the present time. I am present, I live the journey.
I am enough, I have enough, I do enough, I let all forms of energy draining thoughts go. I appreciate what I have, what I am. I let go of outcomes and expectations. And I remember that rejection is divine protection.
Brahmacharya (maintenance of vitality/previously seen as chastity)
I listen to my boundaries and desires, and preserve and respect mine and others’ energies.
Yoga Practices for the Niyamas
Tapas (purification through discipline)
I am disciplined and “I am stronger than myself” (Clarice Lispector).
I am incredibly grateful and peaceful.
I organise my writing space, I observe cleanliness of mind, body, energy and surroundings.
I understand, observe, respect upon and develop my writing.
Ishvara Pranidhana (devotion to a higher power)
I surrender and trust my creativity and the inspiration that comes from outside of me.
How can you discipline water? Fluidity? Like trying to make water into a shape but without applying it to a rigid container? Making the inner creative mind to be disciplined is a bit like that.
Applying pressure has the opposite of the desired effect, the more pressure, the less ideas and the further you get from The Famously Creative Flow.
The way is digging the path in front of the water for it to stream through it. There is a commitment to the digging, to creating the path, to the process and the general direction, eventually, once you have created a good height difference and a worthwhile gap for the liquid to trickle into, it will come, it is inevitable. Yet, one must remember that it has its own laws of physics to follow, which may seem inscrutable to the digger, you can’t see the lay of the land where the water is coming from, or predict the weather patterns that will create the rain. But it will come, one way or another, if you keep digging.
You won’t be able to choose what comes, in which way, the amount of it, the quality, the purity… you are but creating the vessel. You can only keep digging, and believing and never stopping, because if you stop, the water pools.
This is the creative process way, inspiration is the water, and keeping at it, writing, painting, sculpting, singing, playing, is the digging of the path. We, creators, can get better and better in using the tools of the trade, the techniques, and dedicate more and more time; increasing the amount of captured inspiration and the flow of it more consistent, but in the end… we have to submit to what comes to us and not compare to anyone else, no processes are ever the same.
This is what I am doing. I have achieved, last September, something I’ve been working towards for a long time: I am working four days a week, at work, and writing (digging) one day a week, at home, plus parts of the weekend, and sometimes after hours…
It’s been six months that I’m taking a day a week for writing. Two writing days have never been the same. I spent most of today preparing the way, writing on clarity of what I’m doing, of my process, on research to support my created world, reading inspirational quotes for writers, and going to the toilet every ten minutes and then, it poured! Deep and meaningful facts and I needed to find out about this world I’m creating on paper, I mean, on virtual paper. Over 4,200 words without blinking. And until it came, there was only dry earth…
I’ll finish with one of the quotes I dug today:
“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.” Barbara Kingsolver