When there’s nothing…

When there’s nothing, nothing there, nothing to say, nothing said, nothing to hear, nothing to find, when nothing appears, and nothing arrives; Writing is about learning to pay attention”, Anne Lamott says, and trying “to communicate what is going on.” Even, when you don’t know, even when you’re empty, even when it seems like nothing at all. Especially when it seems like nothing.

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I don’t believe that the muses can be relied upon. I don’t believe that inspiration comes from nowhere. I believe in the work. I believe in putting in the work, and I believe that the work of writing begins long before a pen ever presses into the pulp of a page.

Writing is what Ryan Holiday refers to as a “lagging indicator“. A karmic unfolding. The slow arriving effect of a by-gone cause.

It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, and it takes me almost as much reading to write a blog.  “Writing is a byproduct of hours and hours of reading, researching, thinking”, Holiday points out. “Every passage and page has a prologue titled preparation.” Creativity is neither mystical, nor magical, nor esoteric. It’s tedium and monotony. It’s plodding and plotting, laborious and routined.

I know that if I’m not writing, it means I haven’t been reading.

It’s a constant cycle of filling-up and pouring out. Sometimes, if you’re not careful, it’s easy to go empty. I believe in putting in the time and the it takes to fill the well. I believe in patience. I believe it’s worth it.

But, I also believe in being creative in the wait.

Whenever I’m stuck, whenever I’m empty, I make cut-out poems. When I don’t have the words, I look around for some. Words are found objects no matter how we come by them. I scan pages to see which ones I can collect. I know that every text hides a poem because poetry is always-already present within the language of the human heart. It’s simply a matter of showing up, doing the work, and finding them. It’s a matter of recognizing and accepting that “this process of discovering…will often take place in fits and starts”, Lamott says, so it’s best to stop and refill often.

various art supplies and collage materials scattered on a desk with a green cutting mat

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  1. Pingback: Beginning again... - Duane Toops

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