Uncertainty runs counter to human comfort. Most of us like to feel we know what might be coming toward us, that in knowing we may somehow ward off disaster and pain, make future events bend under our will and our want.
Whenever we begin to explore our creativity, in art, in music, in writing, we shake our fist at the need to control. The artist may plan, making preliminary sketches before picking up their loaded brush. A musician might hear the first notes of song, over and over in his head before he begins to play them, fingers tentative on the keys. A writer may lay out a plotline, determine a character profile, know what they are trying to bring to life.
And yet, as the work progresses, detours appear despite our best laid plans. The pen slides outside the tight circle of our planned story. We are waylaid again and again by the unexpected journey our characters travel toward the finish we never saw coming.
Here lies the magic of Art – in the mystical whispers we barely hear and often rail against – the unravelling thread we are helpless to tidily wind.
Throughout human existence there have been those ready to let go of the known shore, the well-travelled path, in order to find something, if not better then at least different – a new frame for their world.
Imagine the moment the decision is taken to venture out into the unknown. Driven by hunger perhaps, or conflict, or curiosity. There is no way of knowing what you will need on your journey, what dangers you may face, what you might find at the end.
And yet, in the face of such uncertainty, you venture anyway.
Beginning a piece of writing holds an essence the same inner unknowingness, though with less physical danger. We do not know if the journey will have the ending we hope for. We have no idea where the words we put on the page will go in the world, everywhere or nowhere. We have nothing to measure their value by.
Instead we trust that the process will take us somewhere like where we want to go. Sometimes we just need to have the faith that, though we have veered off the road we thought we were travelling, the ending we come across will be equal to – or more interesting than – the one we were heading for.
I think this is what it means when mentors instruct us to get out of our own way. The joy comes when we let go enough to enter into the river of our inner questions. Like life, the flow is always there. It doesn’t stop and start the way we do in our own minds. The words never dry up. There is no writers block, just an endless invitation to take hold of one end of the rope even though you cannot see the other end of it. To trust in the process, to write your way into the magic of it.
Here is the essence of the journey being more important than the destination, of letting go our view of the known shore and venture into waters unknown. That’s where the magic lies.
Leslie Thiele is a writer based in the south west of Western Australia. Her short fiction centres around her characters reactions to the world they live in and social change. A keen student of human nature in all its manifestations, Leslie drops people into imagined situations and environments and waits to see what they will do. Recently completing her Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and literature at Edith Cowan University’s regional campus in Bunbury has further refined her writing and led to her gaining recognition for pieces of her work in various competitions, events and spoken performances. Skyglow is her debut collection of short stories.