When I do things well I do just that, I get out of my own way. Whether it is writing, mediation, painting, yoga, or mischief, all them is done better without thinking. The quality of the work, creativity and fun is exponential to how much I release control and trust the process, the muse. I know this sounds easy but for a girl who lives in her head and has a touch of OCD, ok several hands full, this has been and is a hard fought battle.
I have just finished a rewrite of my second book. The fact that I can say I have a second book at all is a testament to what I am saying. I wrote a mystery during Nanowrimo this past November which I wrote about in another blog and will put a link to at the bottom of this piece*. Nanowrimo is a challenge where you commit on a website writing community to write at least a 50k word book, fiction, from scratch starting November 1st and have to be done by the 30th. I did it and was thrilled. I have just finished the first reading and doing the first rewrite for that book. What I found out doing this is that the book is fairly cohesive, funny, detailed and clever. I am sorry to say however I had nothing to do with that. The reason being I don’t remember writing any of it. I just simply got out of the way and followed where the characters lead me. Each twist and turn was a great adventure and very much a surprise.
So here is the “Ah Ha” moment Oprah is always going on about. Things can be as easy or hard, as big or little as you chose. I choose this book to be fun, easy and an exercise in calling myself forth. What that means in clinical terms is “pull your skirt out of your back pocket Mary and butch up.” I did and it was a breeze.
I started a writing group a month or two ago. I didn’t do it on purpose I knew I needed to get back to writing more seriously, my friend David loves to write but had not done it in a long time. I approached him to see if he was interested in messing about with writing and before I knew it 3 or 4 other friends heard and joined in. Most of these folks have wanted to write but have not done very much. Most of them think it has to be perfect, professional, Pulitzer out of the gate. I couldn’t spell my name correctly with those kinds of critics, editors or saboteurs sitting ringside in the creative process. Being creative, making something out of nothing and editing live in two different camps in my experience. You can’t think your way into creativity whether it is making art or making love, you feel your way there, you tumble head first if you pardon the innuendo.
Having been in other writing groups and having facilitated a few of my own over the years I am attempting to show them that there is a certain wonder, magic and very bad grammar when you let go. They are resistant but sooner or later I might have to resort to getting them liquored up with pen in hand, for now we mess about, write, and laugh. I have had this “getting out of the way” experience in many of the arts, painting, and photography, even dance which is a new and terrifying endeavor. I started yoga a year ago and always have my best class when I unplug my thoughts, stop trying and just move.
People believe that success comes from discipline, structure, method, process – not true in my case. Success has come by doing something despite the fear, despite being uncomfortable in the learning, unsure of my ability. The only way to fail at something is to stop trying – or better yet not try at all. I know a lot about that last one. I spent a large portion of my life sitting on the side lines and being a critic, an observer and a voyeur. What I learned is it’s exactly like Lotto; you have to be in it to win it. You have to love to be loved; you have to fail at something to succeed. And as I have said all of this is easier if you don’t over think, in fact if you don’t think at all and just trust.
Now I am sure you can see the wisdom to this theme when it comes to most things. I am also sure the addition of mischief to that list is an eye brow raiser. Please let me illuminate. A few weeks ago my friend Susan was leaving for the UK for an extended stay. She had been fighting with a squatter in her garage and it had gotten ugly. It seems the squatter though evicted came back and had a litter. Mama opossum was a bit of a tart and got herself in a family way. Susan wanted them out before her trip but Animal Control would kill them and the green option conservation folks told her to turn on the music and lights to chase them out. That just turned her garage into Varmint American Bandstand and her neighbors were unhappy with that. A side note to that I don’t care what you say a opossum is not built to Salsa, they are Cloggers from way back. Not politically correct but true.
The conservation folks also recommended a special elixir that would chase mama and the brood from the garage condo and look for safer and quieter lodging. Along with a few other friends, I had heard about the ongoing opossum battle as the trip got closer but did not gage how it would impact Friday night burgers, beer and tater tots at our favorite joint The Station. The night is all about the tots really, the love of the tot is mighty and is woven into some of our trailer park-school cafeteria-DNA. What happened that night in the name of chivalry and mischief was pure and unplanned. It started when Susan announced to David and John at the restaurant “I need male urine, drink up boys.”
Nobody blinked except the waitress who after taking the drink orders high tailed it out of there. Susan explained the conservation folks told her to put male urine around her garage to scare the opossum away. Being resourceful she tried a different flavor but it didn’t work. She needed to pull the big guns out or get the boys to. After negotiating the terms of how to evict the opossum physically and the possibility of running a wet ring around the garage we ordered. By then we had the second round of drinks and had lots of fun planning the equipment list, for me getting my camera was paramount because this was going to be good; for them: flashlight because well rangers carry one and for more adult beverages because well that’s what makes for good elixir.
There was one tense moment when David stood up to go the men’s room. Susan made him swear he was only going to wash his hands for dinner. I thought for sure she was going to follow him in, and so did he. After dinner Susan the designated driver drove us back to her house for Mission Hysterical. The boys begun by moving the cabinet which had become the home to the opossums. They spoke in negotiation terms to the opossum, pulled out draws of the cabinet/home and ferried stray babies who had not glued them selves to mama to the backyard. Then they used a broom to guide mama out after flipping the cabinet over. I ran around them like a CNN correspondent taking some very bad and very funny pictures. About 30 minutes later they had avoided anyone getting hurt both by a bite from a cranky and possibly rabid opossum or the critter wranglers themselves. Susan was elated.
Then the question came “do you still need the elixir?” Susan shrugged and John ready to be relieved and off the firing line for public urination took off for the bathroom inside the house. David at the time was out in the yard still making sure the babies that were separated from the mama were safely in the shrubs so she could find them. When he walked back to the house he asked Susan if she wanted him to pee on her garage. Not a question a woman gets often so she smiled and shook her head yes. She knew what she wanted. This was a no camera event as I had not gotten in touch with David’s handler for this type of photo. We waited inside for the deed to be done and after the fact I was given the opportunity to document the result.
What that night offered was a chance for my friends David and John to show up and help in an unusual way, in an unplanned way, in an uncomfortable way and they did it in spades. They were able to go with what the universe offered up and jump in. The amount of laughter, bonding and mischief that took place over this evening was more than we had planned or would have gotten by hanging out at The Station or watching a movie at my house. The Awesome Opossum Critter Wranglers were born that night. The memoriam sticker reads “Ossom Possum Critter Wranglers – We can piss on your problem. We aim to please.”
You see a muse can appear in many forms and it is up to us to watch and listen for it, then get out of the way for the learning, creation or mischief…it can appear in the form of a friend, an inner voice, a scruffy grey haired, steely eyed, pointy nosed lover, or a opossum.