Saturday, 28 November 2015

Listen, My Friends, and You Shall Hear

Leonid Osipovich Pasternak

Listening is a huge part of writing. Being receptive. Noticing details as well as the wide sweep of something. Bowing to the emotions, considering ideas that do not, perhaps, come naturally to the writer. One needs to, wants to, sometimes cannot help but give attention to what one receives, hears, notices. Even if the attention given springs from disgust or boredom, these reactions must also be heeded because it is all grist for the proverbial mill.

When I listen to others who create, no matter their medium, I hear them express similar ideas about the need to go inside themselves, slow down, allow ideas and feelings to flow or charge or explode. This shared experience is an interesting and delightful aspect of creativity. It's an exciting, enthralling and sometimes quite scary process in which we participate.

Today I have been in the presence of several animals lovers, people who care for animals and treasure them as wonderful companions and friends. I have had relationships like that with some animals, as well, and as I listened to these friends talk, I felt the resonance of something familiar but couldn't put my finger on what that was. Then tonight, after a long day of get-togethers and conversations, I wanted to explore this feeling of synchronicity or unnamed resonance I've experienced for the last several hours.
I think that listening to the deep animal lovers felt familiar because it is so similar, maybe identical to, my experience of creativity and creative expression. Those who love animals (or babies or music or the soil or colour or the stars or…) are listeners and receivers. Noticers. Animal lovers create space for and are open to inner knowing and exploration. They respect that which they love, as do writers and painters, singers and dancers. This sort of love sometimes requires us to "get out of the way," as one friend said today of her time with animals.

And this is true for me when I am writing. I am a participant and a co-creator at the same time. As in any relationship, I sometimes have to just get out of the way and let the thing flow and be whatever it is. Then I come back into the process or unfolding and consciously shape and direct it, but – when it works the best – only in a way that shines the truest light on that character or story or scene, so that it can show itself. It is so difficult sometimes, and such a privilege, too.

So these conversations today have given me several hours of pleasure and opportunity and fun. I've learned some new perspectives on love and devotion. It has been thoroughly satisfying. Thanks very much to all those animal lovers and open listeners today.


  1. Wonderful comments! Gives me a slight insight into the inner process of how creativity works in the mind of a number of artists who share similar stories of going within to the depths of their being to access the "source". I've never really understood this as I don't consider myself particularly creative but have often wondered what authors, painters, poets etc. are talking about when they discuss the internal search that they utilize to give forth expression to their work. Thanks!

  2. You're welcome, Anonymous. I agree that it's neat to get a peek into how someone else thinks or experiences things. It's also interesting to me when I hear people say that they don't think of themselves as being particularly creative. I know that most people mean by that they don't paint or sing or write poetry or whatever, but I think that's a limit that somebody or some institution or something has put on us, and we've accepted that ceiling to our experience. I have, for sure. Not in writing, but certainly in other ways. The fun for me is to dig and climb and risk bumping my head against that ceiling, which doesn't actually exist, anyway. By that I don't mean that we are all greatly talented in all areas (though maybe we are...?), but, rather, that we all have some way(s) in which we are creative. Maybe it's just a matter of taking a jab at that artificial ceiling to see what happens. Thanks for your thought-provoking comments.