January 24, 2014

The Dark Ugly Business of Giving Birth

The Metaphorical Birth Canal
"When one door closes another always opens, but the hallways are a bitch."
It's a phrase Momma Jane has repeated to me many times. I often refer to my creative endeavours as giving birth. It's a spiritual process that follows a natural order, and I don't like to follow the rules.

I'm a hurry & go, fuck that noise, get it done kind of person. I wrestle with electricity and often feel burned and drained. And in the past, life has twisted my arm like an expert black-belt and pushed me to the ground until I cried for mercy. And what does The Master say when they have The Student in such a compromising position? "Ah... NOW you are ready to learn, young grasshopper." So I have learned the dark ugly business of giving birth.


It all starts from love, doesn't it? Like a lighting bolt of inconvenience. It wakes you from your sleep, visits you in a public restroom, or while you're driving your car and you're not supposed to write things down. It's unexpected, possibly a nuisance, but it's brilliant and now, your only reason to be alive.


This is a mysterious time. You can't always see what's going on, but something is changing. Now that you've decided to get down to work, you realize you stare blankly at a wall... not at the wall, but through the wall, like it is your crystal ball. Visuals, sounds, characters begin to leap out at you. 

It is a space often spent in the hallways, with little direction and no sense of time. It's uncomfortable. It feels ugly. It started with such a spark of life, but now it just feels like a mistake. You will start to contemplate killing it, because it's here, annoying you, and you have no idea what you're supposed to do with it. This is when people procrastinate. Drink. Or fall in love with something else. And you can, you can forget it for a while, but it's already attached itself to you. Your work chose you, it's not the other way around.

So you must deal with this obsession you carry. Patient people have a better time with this part of the process. The rest of us attend seminars of "How to Unlock the Muse," (aka "Get This Bitch Outta Me.") Save your money. The work will let you know when it's ready. It will not be rushed. 


And it is a struggle. Sometimes, really painful. Again... it's not ready to come out, but something has shifted. You need to give it time. This is where I really want to grab the forceps. I love to imagine my script children as real - clawing the insides of my uterus in refusal to leave as I insist, "It's time!" Then I imagine myself trudging bowlegged down the hall with a tiny limb sticking out between my legs, making it impossible to walk or leave the house. 

It's hard labour. The Dark Night of the Soul. This is where anger, frustration and blame come into play. This is where loved ones get shit slung at them for no reason, parents are left with angry messages on their machines "WHY DID YOU ENCOURAGE ME? I CAN'T DO THIS!" 

Smart people have help because they know you can't do this alone. Stubborn people barely make it out alive.


I read something recently that has shifted my perspective on surrender. "While you are pursuing your destiny, remember that it is pursuing you too."  

I love this idea, of choosing something that has also chosen you. That at a moment in time there will be a collision! A serendipitous moment of recognition! I have experienced this, but I've often harmed myself in the struggle that by the time it happens, I find it hard to care. That's sad, isn't it? A detachment from something so personal? I think it's common, but I don't think it's necessary.

Creation is a huge responsibility. When words manifest they cannot be neatly tucked away again and forgotten. They live and breathe. That is why writing is dangerous. It changes you.

That's also what makes it so beautiful. Words should be cherished. That's what I intend to do.


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