Your scribbles and first drafts and thin melodies and rough sketches are the underside of a creative life.
Today I found a notebook labeled “words words 2020” with half-written lyrics for a few songs. Tunes in my head and all. I had forgotten about them. That’s par for the course for me. Here’s one, “Dear Planet Earth.”
Dear Planet Earth
Dear Planet Earth thank you for having me dear Planet Earth you have been good to me dear Planet Earth what can I do for you? can we start over again? I'm so sorry I'm so sorry for the mess we've made of you we lost our way we lost our selves we've been greying out your green and blue and now we're losing you I know you could do without us but how can we do without you? ~ rachel mcalpine 2020 ~
Why share a half-written poem?
I seem to be sharing the hidden side the underside of my life as a veteran writer. A half written poem. Ideas floating out from yesterday just out of reach. Sounds that mean something to me. Perhaps they mean something to you. Maybe you hear a tune in your head then sing! go ahead!
What happens on the underside of a writer’s mind?
Well, heaps. As a parallel, a great deal of action happens on the underside of a leaf:
Leaves contain chlorophyll and are the sites of photosynthesis in plants. Their broad, flattened surfaces gather energy from sunlight while apertures on the their undersides bring in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. The cells of a leaf are sandwiched in between two layers of epidermal cells, which provide the leaf with a waxy, nearly impermeable cuticle that protects against water loss. The only way for gases to diffuse in and out of the leaf is though small openings on the underside of the leaf, the stomata. These stomata can open and close according to the plant’s needs. The tissues of the leaf in between the epidermal cells, into which gases diffuse from the stomata, are called mesophyll.https://www.sparknotes.com/biology/plants/plantstructures/section4/
You might hypothesise that the upper side of a creative mind burnishes and displays the works seen or heard or otherwise experienced by an audience. These works need sunlight, they need to be published and received by an audience. Otherwise they don’t happen.
By contrast, the underside of a creative mind is continuously pumping, breathing in and out, opening up to new combinations, shutting the doors to cliches, trying things, starting things, making things that may or may not see the light of day. In a perfect world, the two sides work in harmony and balance.
I’m happy to share a half-written poem or thought now that I’m in my 80s. My home has always been strewn with scribbles: that in itself is not a feature of my aging brain. I would scribble, start editing, get excited. Then pretty soon I would either finish the work and pop it up to my shiny green public side, or lose it.
I still do that. But now I know people are interested in the workaday functions of a creative life. So I share.
My wish for your creative life
My hope is that you too will consider your unfinished, rough-edged creations as precious. Precious for clues about what you’ve been thinking and discovering, and precious in themselves.
Maybe you do not regard yourselves as creative. Maybe you are frustrated by your failure to finish and publish, play or display your work to the public.
Please take heart! All your rough drafts and thin tunes and wonky sketches keep you going, keep you alive, keep you pumping, keep you breathing like a leaf. Enjoy them, explore them. They are precious tokens of your cognitive and emotional and subliminal activity. They are not the downside, not the backside but the underside of your creative life or leaf.
And what’s more they should be fun. Fun to chop and change and develop. Fun to play with, no matter how grave the subject matter. Like the embryo of a song: Dear Planet Earth.
Agree? Go for it.Follow Write Into Life