In the creative process, so many challenges arise, and as a writing teacher, these challenges seem to boil down to two essential cries of the critic:
1) what you want to create has no value, and/or
2) you don’t have the skills to deliver on the idea that has come to you
What I have learned to live and learned to teach centers on this concept: since the idea has come to you, there is no one other than yourself to birth the message to the world. It is through your own five senses that you will be able to bring forth the vision–it is the air you breathe, the road under your own specific feet, the smell of cumin in the Israeli souq that epitomizes your year in Tel Aviv—it is these exact things that will bring forth the idea that has been born within your private landscape. There is no other filled with the sense of this specific story, this specific sculpture, this painting. What you sense is worth bringing forward has arrived singly to you, and it is this singularity that both thrills and terrifies us.
Once a person can accept that the idea, the vision, is worthwhile, he or she has to come to terms with the reality that the necessary skills may not be available in one’s current tool kit. I would offer that it is only through time and practice that one can find the insight necessary to birth the message.
More specifically, I am thinking of my friend Amy, who lived for a year in Israel, working for a time at the Diaspora Museum, the Museum of the Jewish People. She lived in an apartment that held a sentinel tree in the courtyard and a door barred by a large piece of furniture. One night she decided to re-arrange and moved the wardrobe. To her surprise, she discovered a small room and in it, a box of letters from a woman to her brother, both political refugees from Russia; the sister resolved to be part of the Jewish settlement in Israel, and the brother went to Paris to cultivate his screenwriting/directing (and when the Nazis invaded he had to flee France, being on a list of most wanted of theirs. He made it to the US and finally to Hollywood where he continued his career).
I won’t give away all the electrifying details, but Amy’s discovery of that box has led her to meet new people and to know the world through an important, altered lens, and yet, the book that is waiting to be born remains unborn because Amy needs to arrive—to the place within herself that understands process, the development of skills, and the power of drafts. There is no one else to tell this story, and I firmly believe she is only one to bring this story to the world.
Like so many of us, Amy struggles with her faith in her ability to do justice to the story. Perhaps we sometime confuse humility with doubt—perhaps there’s more comfort in discounting our ideas because we sense the amount of learning we will have to embrace. Amy’s experience is profound and worth sharing; I only hope she comes to the point where she allows process to teach her what she needs to know about the story, about the nature of the human experience.
I’m ready to read the book of her experience. I’m trusting she will write it when both the confidence and the faith in process combine to give her the courage to pen the story.