Monday, September 25th, 2017


The title is a quote made by Marilynn Robinson author of Gilead and Housekeeping in an essay she wrote that appears in Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration and the Artistic Process edited by Joe Fassler. (Not the catchiest title.)

I was having a moment of questioning the output of my writing and how foolish I am to write in three very different modes (some would say marketing channels) and wondering where I am going. That thought is especially pertinent as I am about to do a Play Shop on the themes   raised in my book I PRAY ANYWAY: Devotions for the Ambivalent. (Not the most succinct title.)  I’m writing a kind of Play Book for the book that has pesky questions and activites and resources for people who want to create conversation. Nice.

But, I don’t know exactly what I’m doing or why and I get irritated when people want to know exact goals. That is not how you explore. And even if you have a goal, exploring happens. Any act of creation creates tension because creativity will go where it wants to go and will make an imperfect outcome compared to any vision held beforehand.

So I breathed a sigh of relief to read the following paragraph in Robinson’s essay. It took my heebie-jeebies away.

———Writing should always be exploratory,. There shouldn’t be the assumption that you know ahead of time what you want to express. When you enter into the dance with language you’ll begin to find that there’s something before or behind or more absolute than the thing you thought you wanted to express.And as you work, other kinds of meaning emerge than what you might have expected. On one hand you feel the constraint of what can be said. but on the other hand you feell the infinite potential. There’s nothing more interesting than language and the  problem of trying to bend it to your will which you never quite do. You can only find what it contains, which is always a surprise———

In other words, just do the Play Shop, Joyce,  and then you will know what it is about and what is the goal!!




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