The Romantic on The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Friday, November 16, 2012

What Came First...?

In her book, Mythology, Edith Hamilton wrote: “The Greeks did not believe that the gods created the universe. It was the other way about: the universe created the gods.”

Could this conceivably be the creative conundrum of the storyteller’s existence? Does the writer create the story or does the story create the writer?

The analogousness of a writer’s creative process with Creation myths that span millennia—among various religions—can only hint at the frustration and wonder that a writer endures.

Long before the characters (gods) emerge from the void of formless Chaos and unending darkness, lies a formless plethora of potential plots, but no definitive story.

Our consciousness attempts to formulate a storyline, but almost always—like recent attempts by physicists to develop a Theory of Everything—the “equation” collapses, and the would-be story crumbles.

There are moments when we writers merely sit with a blank stare for hours on end and wait for that whisper from our soul that lures us along a path that we have yet to travel. The beauty of such a moment is when we fall down a rabbit-hole and find ourselves in a wonderland of our own creation. The tragedy is when that whisper is lost like a scent in a breeze and we ache for the echo of imaginative introspection.

Occasionally a spark in our sleep ignites the fires of our artistic hearth, and we write from our dreams, the cinema of the mind—as Robert Olsen Butler once called it.

Then there are those moments when we act out of desperation and try to force it.

The result: a work more cerebral than quixotic.

Even though a first draft is expected to be crude and in need of extensive revisions, it just feels as though that first draft begins below sea level when we force the writing. Making the climb along the steep slope to respectable writing, that much more arduous.

So where does one begin? How does one begin? Does the writer even have any control over the creation process or is the act of creation the will of the gods?

We read, we write, we imagine, we think, we walk, we take a nap, we prepare another cup of coffee and we wait.

One minute doubles, and then it doubles again, and then sixty seconds later we look at the clock and notice five minutes have passed.

(Crickets chirp)

Five minutes are an eternity when we have other obligations to which we must direct our attention. But we must allow ourselves to linger in that ocean of absent imagination, and watch as the “aha” moment materializes out of nothingness like a Big Bang that explodes in a primordial ocean of Chaos.

It is quite conceivable that we can create the perfect conditions by continuously reading, writing, and consuming coffee with our favorite flavored creamers. Thus, having as much to do with the creation process as we do with the creative process of writing a novel.

To the world of our imagination, we are the gods, the omnipresent entities in the universe of our stories. We grant our characters a certain amount of free will, and although that can work against us, there’s still nothing in the world that we’d rather do!

We decide the destiny of our characters, and we write the stories that emerge from our creative core. Whether we create the story and it becomes a completed novel, or the stories become published and we earn the title of published author; it may be a query without end akin to the conundrum of the chicken and the egg.

In the end it becomes a new beginning, and we ask ourselves if we began at the end. The endless cycle of creation and completion is what we live for, because it’s the only way that a writer truly feels alive. Most may never truly understand our eccentricities, save for the gods of legend who often interfered on mortal affairs, and though we didn’t create the universe in which we live, we long to contribute to our world a written reminder that we once lived and died as writers.

“Let us be silent, so that we may hear the whispers of the gods.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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