Thursday, April 26, 2012

The collaborative nature of art

I don't think there's anyone who writes or creates or composes who hasn't had a day when things start showing up that you don't remember planning.  The first time it happened to me, I was resisting writing a sonnet with all my heart, and resisting that resistance with all my head, when suddenly the last several lines spooled out onto the page for me, correctly iambic and frankly, a miracle.

This first novel of mine has been like that, some days.  I'll sit down and suddenly someone is shouting "Who stands Sentinel this night?" and I peer at the page and think "Sentinel?  What on this earth I'm making up is a Sentinel??" (It's a gesture of respect.  Some day you'll read all about it, maybe.)

I'm thisclose to the end.  I feel like I have said "I'm DONE!" so many times that all I've done is made it clear that I keep using those words and they do not mean what I think they mean.

The biggest thing left to fix was the metrical rhymed poetry that is rather more prominent than I'd thought it would be.  I write poetry, and I write good poetry, but I do NOT write good metrical rhymed poetry, nor do I do well writing poetry to assignment.  The surest way to shut my creativity right down is to say "Write a poem about Alberta."  Suddenly I know nothing about the province I've lived in for most of the last thirty years.

So the poetry was weak, I knew it was weak, I didn't know what to do about it, and I fired off a series of panicked emails to my long suffering singer/songwriter/baker/pastor/farmer brother in law, suggesting phrases and omitting words and adding words and trying to breathe.  We chatted on the phone a few times, and then, last night he sent me eight lines of awesome.  I read the email and a small light shone down and a choir started to sing somewhere.  (I may be overstating things just the teeniest bit.)

And I was reminded again about just how very interesting God is, and how interested He is in the creative process, and how He loves to surprise us, and I can't even tell you how delighted I am that as I sat in Alberta, knitting a blanket for a beloved great-niece, my brother in law was feeding cattle and writing a sermon way over there in Manitoba, and both our brains were noodling away on this ballad - it came to him.

Writing can be lonely. 

Yesterday wasn't.