The Thirteenth Century Persian poet, Rumi, said, “As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.”
I find this is true for me in writing. Something always happens. The blankness of the page or an image draws me forward. I develop characters and then get to know them the way I would get to know people, and soon I know what they’ll say and what they’ll do. They’re like friends weaving their ways through the novel, interacting with their own ‘frienemies’ and lovers, pursuing their objectives, and eluding the inevitable slings and arrows of outrageous fortune en route.
The other thing I do where I see Rumi’s wisdom in play is flower arranging. I arrange public displays and often have no final image in mind – that would be too constraining. I chose the container and the flowers, get the mechanics together, and then get out of my own way to allow the arrangement to emerge. This has proven to be a successful non-plan on most occasions.
Rumi’s wise words are something for the right brain to consider in any of its endeavors. Just walking out on the way and seeing what happens. I don’t recommend it for Left-Brain activities, though. I have noticed it does not work for solving math problems, playing poker, or even following my own guidelines at the grocery store.
Walking out on the way and having it appear is magical. Even though I have had it happen to me many, many times, my left brain can’t understand it and doesn’t trust it. For instance, to write this blog, the Rumi quote was already comfortably seated on my shoulder. I started typing with no idea what to say. And the way appeared. The actual meaning of this is that magic happens when you, or I, suit up and show up to a creative endeavor. But my left brain still says ‘Bah. Humbug.’ Despite empiric examples.
Have you had experiences like these?
Jane Foster is the author of Sliding, published in 2015 by Green Dragon Books. Her first novel Below Sea Level was published in 2013 by Tate Publishing. She currently divides her time between Florida and France.