I sat in the living room of a lovely beach house and listened; stories from other writers joined us like late arrivals to a party. A presence inhibited the room beyond the fifteen people who paid to attend.
This morning I finally understand what I witnessed.
Every single writer held within them a story, a character, a narrative and they felt compelled to convey the story. Their writing originates, not from duty or obligation, but from love. They love their character and their stories. Not a single participant spoke aloud so as to hear their own voice, but rather out of a desire to give their character a voice. The selflessness of loving another unconditionally – even if the other is not a person but a thing. Unmistakably, that thing was an IDEA, an emotion, a memory. That thing is a fictional character who embodies an idea, an emotion, a memory, a trauma. The narrative arc each writer diligently and faithfully endeavors hopes to convey a message. We each wish to free this thing that resides inside of us. It is a thing separate and autonomous from us. It is something we feel protective of, yet not possessive in a dark and greedy way. We want to share. And it is that unconditional love so purely expressed by every other writer in the room that renewed my fidelity to this project.
Writing embodies a sliver thread of creation, a loose string so easily snipped off and discarded. With the snare eliminated, creativity can be ignored or marginalized. Like a cracked bowl, creativity slowly eeks through; condensation appears on the outside. Creativity flows from spilling milk, wrinkling linen, creaming butter, kneading bread, threading needles, dipping quills, braiding hair, tilling soil, pruning roses and smearing glue. It can also flow from the contemplative tasks, the mundane repetition serving as palette for the blank canvass.