In my everyday life, I must remind myself to go with the flow and to not talk myself out of the adventure. It is quite difficult to do 52 percent of the time. I always feel as though I am wandering around in dimly lit forests without markers or roads, finding it hard to trust “the flow” of the thing. The trees are so tall and closely set that I can hardly see the sun. And, if I can’t see the sun, I can’t see my way out of the dark. When I do trust the flow; it is always an amazing journey. One would think that I would learn by now but I’m human and I like to have plans that work – most of the time – as opposed to having so many “go with the flow” moments.
In my writing, there is no other way but going with the flow – regardless of the trees or the dark – the voices of the characters do not speak when tampered with and they have their own rhythm… I have to be open when I write or I’d never be able to write. Personally, I cannot do the “not writing” thing – must be writing, always writing… And, I have come to rely on being open to the processes I use for writing my plays and have spent the last decade plus honing that sensitivity.
With poetry, I have let it come in when and where it can find a space between plays and work mostly for special occasions like birthdays, holidays, and deaths. For the last few years, I have been working on a book of poems for my mother – gut wrenching stuff to write but she says it’s like I’m her memory. I did intend for it to be personal to my mother but did not expect it to take so long and be so emptying. I literally have to take breaks after every few poems. Because of that, I had started to think that putting a book together unlike just collecting poems was virtually impossible for me. I have been planning to submit to a certain poetry contest for a few years but every year, the play submission deadlines overlap with the poetry manuscript submission deadline and in the time before and after submission periods, I was always writing another play. This year, by some miracle, the deadline was extended two weeks. So, I figured I would go with the flow by trying to submit something. I started going through my stash of poems looking for a theme that jumped out at me – a daunting process to say the least as some of my best poems were off limits for this project. I had to find an “in” so I wrote a poem about whatever it wanted to be about, was completely honest – no secret codes. It went boldly to the scary dark place and said, “Now what? You game?” Suddenly, I knew what the theme was and how to pull poems I had already written into the pile, one being “Before the Red” and I knew I was going to have to keep going back to those scary places to write the manuscript right. But even knowing that, time was running out. I was going to have to write and rewrite a total of at least 50 poems in less than two weeks now. It was new to me; I was completely terrified…scared…”afeared”. I was traveling into scary dark places at a pace I didn’t think I could keep up… I was writing through the night, writing through my lunch, writing while trying to get dressed for work…just writing and editing like a crazy woman… Every time I would get overwhelmed and say, “Lord, I can’t do it. I can’t finish in time.” He would say to me, “But, what if you can?” After a while, I found myself echoing, “What if I can?” It was the million dollar question that I needed to have an answer to. So, I continued to push hard; not making it when all I need to do is push hard a little bit longer is the worst kind of not making it. I told myself I would push till the last available minute and just see what happens – just see if I can. I could and I did. I uploaded my finished manuscript with fifteen minutes to spare…New York time.
I had gone to the THERE space to the scary dark place and I had written it scared…but I had written it. The flow of that thing was like being caught in the swell of a wave that refused to break. I told a friend that I felt as though, I had become myself….nothing broken…nothing lacking…
Now…I am planning to start a new play to submit before March. I have two weeks off from my day job and I ain’t scared to go wherever…because I know I can go to the scary dark places…and still go with the flow…Tweet