Can we create something meaningful and enduring from chaos? In today’s social media hyped world – viral yes, enduring no. I find it easier to start outside then dive into the center and create from that space. That means finding the environment, the space, a ritual, an object that inspires, a scent, music that sets the atmosphere. Ease into that inner place then linger, you’ll be surprised by who shows up.
Maya Angelou was known for her eccentric writing habits. Every month, she books a local hotel room. No decorations or pictures on the wall. Her blank canvas. Locked away from 6.30am to about 2pm with a Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the King James Bible. She wears a head tie to keep from twisting her hair (one husband hated the twists).
Since the little mind needs to be occupied so the big mind can think deeply, she replaced the twisting with crossword puzzles and a deck of cards. She told the Daily Beast in an interview, “Will I write a sentence that will just float off the page? Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
Thomas Kinkade the controversial painter of light, also creates from what he calls – an inner space that begins first thing in the morning, interacts with the world then returns to that nurturing centered solitude. Meaning he wakes up, stays in bed meditating on a simple verse – The Lord is my shepherd…this is the day the Lord had made – then he goes to his private sun deck overlooking the foothills of Monte Sereno CA, where he has a wooden stand for his Bible, a notebook for ideas, sketching tools and holds a “divine meeting.”
If you prefer to kick up your metabolism before your cerebral faculties, then go out in nature – enjoy the sweet morning breeze, the melody of chirping birds, the scent and beauty of flowers during a quick run, a jog on the beach, sunrise gardening or even walking the dog. All excellent ways to get your creative juices flowing and clear your mind.
Ernest Hemingway, the master of dialog noted in his documents to the Wisdom Foundation in California, published in Playboy Jan. 1963, “I do most of my work in my head. I never begin to write until my ideas are in order. Frequently I recite passages of dialogue as it is being written; the ear is a good censor. I never set down a sentence on paper until I have it so expressed that it will be clear to anyone.” Hemingway called his style the Iceberg Theory: the facts float above water; the supporting structure and symbolism work out of sight. A concept also called the Theory of Omission.
Roseanne Barr in judging a contestant in Last Comic Standing (NBC) after a bland routine, advised him to go “smoke something.” Writers, artists and even those listed here, have used alcohol in varying degrees, but that beast takes more than it gives. All I need is the sight of a mountain range. When I go to the library, I pick a seat looking out the windows. Good thing I live in a valley.
I’m drawn to those seemingly insurmountable peaks till I’m one with them, then I rise above. Because I know the answer to my mantra:
I will lift up my eyes to the hills,
where does my help come from?