I’ve been having a rough course the past couple of weeks. Doing a lot of behind the scenes work on planning and preparing for coming writing and while I was doing that, I realized “Sisters of Westwinter” was turning into something I was just doing. It fell out away from the lovely creation which brought me so much joy and it became a task I needed to fulfill in order to feel like I was presenting something to an audience, and even if that is technically what it is, I don’t ever want to write like that again.
My life revolves so much around publication of things that are emotional investments for me and I made it a habit to publish new stuff because I felt like I had to, rather than because I was proud of what I was making and wanted to share it. So…
Sisters of Westwinter isn’t going anywhere, that isn’t what this is, but things ARE going to change around here a bit. I’m a goal oriented person and a lot of the time those goals become things I need to accomplish in order to not feel miserable. In the process of writing SoW it quickly became “how to I make this exciting for the next chapter” and “How quickly can I write the next episode” instead of trying to tell the story I really want to tell. This whole book is about things that are deeply personal to me. Things I’ve struggled with in my own life and things that I am passionate about in regard to the world around me and I don’t want a moment of that to go to waste. So, I took some extra time off to… let’s say “recalibrate.”
I started this book in the middle of an incredibly tumultuous point in my life, much of the comfortability of the world around me was flipped upside down and I was digging up old bones of things that I didn’t know how to process, the end result of that became this book. This idea, rather, of characters who became stand-ins to help me process what I was going through. I wrote this story, as I write the beginning of all of my stories, from a place of emotional chaos. (I’m working on doing better about it.)
I spend a lot of time in chaos over the beginning of a piece of writing and this spring I’ve been hard at work, digging up old writing to fix and improve so that I might have more to give sometime soon, while I was working on that I took a hard look at SoW and what it became to me.
I have a tendency to make things up on the fly, my preferred method to move through life. However, as I’ve come into the fold of writing this project, something which has become far more serious to me than anything I’ve done before, I’ve found myself at odds with my process. The first entries through this were more than just a story I wanted to tell, they were the expanse of my emotions funneled through the actions of the characters in an honest, if not unrefined manner. Which I really didn’t want to create. Of course, everything I create will be fueled by my feeling and how I process it, but I realized after I wrote the Interludes that this story is far, far larger in scope than I’d first made it out to be.
So, in short, I’m starting over. Some of it will be the same, the same characters and same places you’ve already seen, but it will be deeper, more expanded, and I’m going to take you with me through the process of creating it. I’ve been planning and preparing the “Creating a Cult” series for a few weeks now, making sure to iron out the wrinkles on such a technical piece of writing, but the revitalization of Westwinter came alongside it. The answer to the question I was having about why I felt like things were so… tuned.
I have been working on the revisions of Westwinter for the last two weeks, and will be bringing you a new look at the series with it. From the ground up I’ll be re-working previous entries, with a new face and new meaning. Alongside those reworks, I’ll be releasing the “how-to” of my editing process and explaining what goes on in the back of my head while I work through the things I don’t like about my own writing, and hopefully you can gain something from it.
Either way, I get to tell the story I want to tell in the way I want to tell it, which is what I started all of this for in the first place.
Like Sparks Like Vines Like Hope
Creativity is sometimes like a vine. Once it has rooted it will grow forward, wrapped around whatever provides it stability. Occasionally, should it put its hopes upon a frail dowel or worn stretch of shiplap it may crumble and its course my veer. Even so, it will continue to grow regardless. Once a vine begins it cannot be so easily stopped, not without some kind of intentional burning of the stalk or tearing of the root.
As any who tends a garden or a house plant might tell you, it is not quick work to produce results. In the term for our goal itself, “produce” there is a similarity to the world in which we ascribe things of the earth to be consumed. We are produce (prö,dōōs) as much as we are to produce (pre,dōōs). Art then, is not merely some commodity to be exonerated at arms length, but is instead something which we should consume. A foundation of a healthy life begins with pulling the paint from Picasso’s personal experience.
Creation does not come lightly to us all. In some it is dark and infertile to the call of that nameless sensation to burn the world with your own experience. For those of us who can hear it, the distant clarion call of human experience made manifest by word, or page, or song or sand, it so often devours us.
In the same way, we are like vines through our methods of creation. If you are to bend the stalk, a little every day, it will change course. At home we have a Monstera who grows roots from the middle of the plant, and my wife must often guide the root over the course of the week back to the soil where it can find home and give the plant another foundation to grow stronger and larger. We are the same, each new task a root to be carefully guided and brought to light for the purpose of strengthening what we know, who we are.
But what then, if you were to shear the vine where it hangs? Would the plant then die?
Sometimes, yes. There are pains in life that can silence even the thunderous will of creation. For those who’ve felt the hurt, may know how to speak on it better than I can. I don’t want to tell their story, I’ve never wanted to tell anyone else’s story. Only my own.
I am a vine whose support has fallen, broken, and at times (most often) against my will, been uprooted and changed in some dramatic way in which I must adapt and overcome my own trials in order to continue moving forward.
It fills me with determination, to be the vine who does not stop regardless of the house or fence or cedar tree being cut down around me. So, I want to make myself as much a resilient vine as I can allow. Perhaps, I will learn one day to grow and stretch into the sky uninterrupted. Perhaps I will come to know myself in ways more deeply and certain than I do today and I will know what it takes to thrive.
Until then, like we all do, I am feeding myself on rice water.
I wanted to write about hope, and where preparation meets opportunity and turn this into something like a Chicken Soup for the Soul blurb about the thing you need to move to the next step of your life, but I have to be honest…
I don’t know what that is for you, or me, or anyone. We’re all doing the best we can, trying to find a place to grow our roots and stretch upward all the same.
It’s hard work, and I’m proud of you for sticking to it.
It’ll get there.
You’ll get there. Just keep drinking rice water and doing what you do. We’re all in this together, no matter what they want us to think.