“what is written does not have to be polished or finished or part of something larger or better to matter” — Alison Hicks, Senior Partner, Amherst Writers & Artists Method
This weekend I was re-reading an essay called The Silence Out of Which Writing Comes, and which is the source of the above quotation. I was reading the essay to get myself thinking about writing and facilitating writing groups, since I’ll be doing that again soon. And as usually happens — and one reason I like this work — I found myself becoming sustained, stimulated, and nurtured by what I read in the effort to refresh my purpose and sharpen my focus.
What Alison says above gets to the very heart of what I love about this work, both for myself and for the writers I get to write with. What I have come to learn from practicing this method, from giving and receiving feedback in an AWA writing group is that the writing that matters is the writing we are doing now, in all its scrawly, half-formed, shadowy brilliance and originality. It doesn’t have to be bigger. It doesn’t have to be a seed of anything other than what it is.
For many years I wore myself out with an idea about bigness. I could barely enjoy any act of creation, any flight of fancy, before my brain was hijacking the spontaneous combustion of my imagination and yoking it to some project of the ego, some effort to once and for all prove my worthiness.
Somehow, by unearned but beloved grace, I seem to have grown into a place in my life where I can better enjoy the mystery of creation — and a big part of that is realizing that there are greater forces than my ego or my intellect running the show. The energy of desire and creation come calling, and I dance with them a little more lightly now. No longer attaching these energies to a project for my self-aggrandizement, I think I’m a more gracious dance partner, following rather than leading.
We all have to start small, we all have to start over again and again, and come back to the beginnings. What I like about the AWA method is that it gives us a way to do that, and gives us companions who are also beginning anew, being surprised by their unique creative genius, the tiny little sparks of flame that are always flickering, that have such power to warm and light our way.