Unseen Forces

In The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield writes:

[…] when we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set into motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces out purpose.

How you conceptualise these ‘unseen forces’ is entirely up to you. Whether you choose to think of it as a muse, an angel, a deity, or – as I am tempted to – your subconscious mind, I think it is important to acknowledge that there are forces which are outside of your own directed energies.

I experience this when blog posts I’ve been meaning to write, things I’ve been resisting and procrastinating over, suddenly take form inside my brain. I will be in the shower or driving somewhere or in bed and suddenly it will write itself. Sometimes the whole thing, sometimes just an opening line or paragraph. But suddenly it exists in some form. Then I’ll actually write. Sometimes it is what was presented to me verbatim, other times it differs greatly. But it always gives me a sense that is possible. I think sometimes the gesture is mostly symbolic.

During a talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert on Genius, she spoke of American poet Ruth Stone and her creative process. Elizabeth Gilbert:

I had this encounter recently where I met the extraordinary American poet Ruth Stone, who’s now in her 90s, but she’s been a poet her entire life and she told me that when she was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. And she said it was like a thunderous train of air. And it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet. She knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and that was to, in her words, “run like hell.” And she would run like hell to the house and she would be getting chased by this poem, and the whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper and a pencil fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. And other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she’d be running and running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it and she said it would continue on across the landscape, looking, as she put it “for another poet.”

Sometimes it is like that too. I distinctly remember an experience during high school. I didn’t need to muster up the desire to write, I didn’t even need to think about what I was writing. There was just this explosion of energy and I was scribbling feverishly. I was writing in view of everybody in the house too, at the kitchen table, at a time when I was painfully secretive about my writing. In perhaps three or four minutes the whole thing on was on the page in front of me. I doubt it was the greatest poem in the world, but it did offer amazing clarity on something in my life that I sensed but couldn’t – until that very moment, at least – articulate.

Finally, from the Boys For Pele EPK, Tori Amos:

I’ve never experienced such an amazing sky or an amazing ocean like the feeling of when the sound is coming through and I don’t know where it’s going, and it’s totally aligned. It’s just [explosive sound]. You know there’s this little silver string that’s running off this planet somewhere else, coming down – and it comes through the little red head.

What role do ‘unseen forces’ play in your creativity and your life?

1 comment… add one

Leave a Comment