The “creative process:” a term used to describe one of the most satisfying and simultaneously frustrating ways of life. I refer to it as a way of living because should you choose this existence, it dictates the course of your days in a similar manner as the sun, organizing your day around its appearance and cursing your bad luck when rain clouds appear.
I try to catch it early in the morning before the residual fog from other lands has completely cleared from my head, allowing my pen to drift across the page and roll out the words along with the mass of condensation. In this hazy state where word choice ceases to become a decision and simply an electrical impulse of synaptic activity, I am free in a way I cannot guarantee later in the day when this energy has been depleted, all channels blocked so that no creativity can flow. I am funniest in the mornings (ehhh, on the page, not in person), words, thoughts, and observations bubbling out of me, pressing to get to the page, with a similar urgency that hunger or having to pee may drive you out of bed in the morning. Dawn is the golden hour of creative possibility, our egos still resting snug under the covers (because naturally, she needs the most sleep of any other part of the psyche). We are not afraid of putting pen to paper out of fear that it will not be great or completely incomprehensible. We just write, the way we just wake up while sipping our tea or coffee.
These blue-lighted sessions, when there is a still humming in the air, a promise of life and purpose, carry me through the rest of the day. That one drink at dawn stokes the fire so that its embers will glow throughout the day through every task so that every situation seems made to be written down. On the street, on the bus, in a café, between whatever other commitments I have for the day, I can sidle up next to that fire and thoughts will tumble freely onto the page. Ego is content, warming her fingers and toes by that fire as well, occupied just long enough for me to write a paragraph or two without caring if it’s brilliant or if it’ll be liked.
But as the pages are filled and the minutes tick past, light shines through the window and parts the remaining wisps of dreams hanging in the air. The mind is fully alert now and Ego is starting to take hold again, an angry friend banging on the door after you forgot to invite them out with everyone else. I sigh, fully breaking the spell and getting up from my seat to let her in. She is inescapable, a bad boyfriend who, for some reason, I just can’t let go. As petulant and demanding as she can be, she bolsters my confidence and optimism in what I do. I need her as much as she needs me, a cycle of codependency that can’t be broken.
Some days, I miss this jump start and she follows me around all day, perched on my shoulder and spitting into my tea once I finally get the chance to sit down and write. I try to ignite that spark again but she distracts me with her incessant chatter and critiques.
“Are you really going to use that word again?” she sneers, peering over my shoulder and casting a shadow the page.
Or, “I’m bored,” yawning loudly in my ear just as I’m struggling to piece together the plot line of a story. Her authoritative, arrogant demeanor convinces me that she is right and I shut my notebook, mournfully looking over at my bookshelf and wondering how all those writers were able to create such captivating stories. But Ego is satisfied with this end result, stretching her obnoxiously long, toned limbs (she’s just SO perfect), saying “You deserve a treat. Let’s go get some chocolate!”
Other times, she’ll just leave without warning, upset because I told her she is not actually a very good writer at all. She punishes me with her absence until I start to believe my own words and I am rendered useless without her. She doesn’t come back until I send her a text crying out for help because suddenly any ounce of inspiration I thought I possessed has disappeared. While I sit miserably at my desk, trying to form some kind of image in the blankness of my mind or coming up with a thousand other tasks I need to accomplish, she reappears, as unapologetic and smug as before. But in my desperation, I’m so glad she’s back, filling the room with her stories and witticisms, turning the most ordinary detail into an intriguing tale. She sees the discarded pen on the floor and places it back in my hand and coos, “Of course, you’re a good writer.” And in this way we vacillate, the most imperfect pair.
I guess I’m stuck with her.