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Emily Hanlon: The Fiction Writer's Journey
Emily Hanlon : Keeping Faith with the Creative Process

Keeping Faith with the Creative Process

By Emily Hanlon

Gestation and birth are perfect symbols for the creative process, whether it be the birth of a child, an animal, the emergence of a butterfly from the chrysalis or the flower from the seed buried under winter's frozen earth. Birth is a continual marvel; it warms the heart, brings out the fierce instinct to protect and fills the mind with wonder.

We need to hold our own creative ideas in similar awe. We need to give them the warm, safe place in which to germinate. We need to protect them in their newborn vulnerability, which is the same as protecting our deepest self. This is precisely what, I believe, makes the first steps of a creative endeavor so difficult.

Too often we don't trust our own deepest truth; it makes us feel too vulnerable or it seems incongruous with the person we think we are or must be. Our Inner Critics are all too quick to discard these newborns as silly, frivolous or worse, as boring and still worse, as downright stupid.

The poem below by Franz Kafka is a passionate refute to the Inner Critic.

You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait.
Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked,
it has no choice,
it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

— Franz Kafka

Imagine such faith in the creative process! Imagine being self-nurturing enough to give our stories and books, any of our creations, such time and patience. Yet, if we do, Kafka promises we will receive ecstasy that brings untold meaning to our life. Mere publication pales in relationship to such abundance. •

© 2008 Emily Hanlon. All rights reserved.

Emily HanlonEmily Hanlon has been a writer all her life and is the author of seven works of fiction and a book on writing and creativity. More »

12/24/08