HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 1, 2017 – 12:00am
Sometimes I look at a blank page with excitement and promise. I look at it and smile and can’t wait to write something on it. I am carefree, spontaneous and I feel like I am staring at the limitless sky. I can fly inside the page. It feels great. I can create worlds with words. I can make my own universe. I can define the reality that I want. And I want nothing more than to let the world know what I have written.
I feel like God rhetorically asking what I want to create today. “What experiences do I want today?” I confidently ask myself!
There is a palpable current of energy running inside me that wants not just to type words but to imbue the blank page with magic and inspiration. I feel very powerful. I know my place in the world. I am attuned to the spontaneity of “the flow” — that divine force that runs everything we know in the universe. And I ride it effortlessly.
But sadly, it is not always like this.
There are also times when I look at the blank monitor and feel a sense of fear and nausea. I feel dread. The blank page is luring me in with an urgency and I am balking at the invitation. I feel I am not worthy nor talented enough to enter the page. But the blank page is demanding that I write something on it, and it better be good. In times like these, I want to run away and hide, and never look at the blank page again.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and my deadline for the article looms closer and closer.
I feel close to panic. I feel like the girl in the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale who was tasked to produce gold every night under great duress. It can be very distressing.
Every writer finds him/herself in these alternating situations often. I know. I’ve been here many times.
Every artist has the calling to do art, but with the forces of doubt and fear not far behind. These two opposite forces that pull artists will always be there. A part of me wants to fly. The other is too afraid to fall. I like to engage the world freely and shape it to my own image and likeness. But I am also too afraid to completely reveal myself and be criticized.
Lately, I have been mostly feeling the latter. Sometimes, I feel like I am running on empty. I have nothing new to say. I have no muse to inspire me.
Throughout the week, I think of topics to write about. Sometimes, I find something to write about and so I submit my article to my editor early before the deadline. This week, I could not think of anything. I had started writing an article this morning to catch today’s deadline but for some reason, I quickly lost interest in the topic and abandoned what I had already written.
I decided not to write about anything that I was not really that interested in. I wanted to write about something real. And so I followed the urge to write about what is true for me at this very moment.
I am writing about something that is happening to me right now. I am scared because I have no great “safe” topic to thrill my audience with. And I am afraid to admit that I feel defeated. Surely, I am suffering from writer’s block right now.
Art and fear are two things that go together with being a creative person. One is a force out to talk and dialogue with world. The other is a force of restraint, a force that tells you that you are not good enough, and that you never will be.
Art is about beauty and authenticity. For any work to be authentic, one must from time to time directly bare one’s soul just as it is. If it means showing up as the lesser version of you on the page then so be it.
One must also accept that at that moment you are writing whatever it is you are writing, you are doing your best. You always are coming from the best of you, considering that your moods, psychological state and spiritual barometers are always in constant flux.
Don’t beat yourself up when you feel you’re not as inspired as you want to be. Be kind to yourself. You are always, at any given moment, the “state of the art” of who you are. Right now. Nothing less. Nothing more. Accept with humility that your present output will always be either greater or lesser than what you have done before, or what you may do tomorrow. And that’s perfectly okay.
Fear exists in everyday life. But you also have your life to live. And you must do what you must do whatever the conditions are. In short, while the fear is there, go beyond it so you can do the job that you are tasked to do. As a writer, the very act of showing up on the page, especially against the odds, is a real act of courage.
Often, we think of drawing inspiration from the world outside. But you can also draw it from inside of you, from the most powerful force in you.
That is your vulnerability.
Show your weakness. Show your pain and doubt. Be real. Be true. You may be surprised how healing and powerful that can be.