Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Midwifing the Writing

After a Seminar:

It’s quiet in the room in the seconds before the pens hit page. We’ve just spoken about listening to the rustling of a plastic bag. I rustle the bag. We listen. We speak about the signal that Hashem told King David to listen for before he went out to battle the Philistines. It was a rustling in the leaves of the mulberry trees. When the leaves rustled, then he would know that Hashem was with him, and he could bring forward his troops to engage the enemy.

Aside from the rustling, there is no real subject matter to launch the writing. But no one complains. They didn’t complain at our first meeting when all we gave them was a first line. Now we’re giving them even less. But they trust the process. They're ready to let go of the dock and swim into the open sea. It is vague, but it is exhilarating and wide open. I say, “Just put one word down on the page, and let that word lead to the next, as if you’re holding a rope, and you’re pulling, and you don’t know what’s on the other side.” Will they pull in a camel or a hurricane?

I sit with them in the silence before the damn breaks, and the waters gush forth. We stand on the edge of creation when worlds are being born. I feel like a birthing coach. I help with the breathing. I remind them why we are here—to deliver.

The workshop breathes life into old bones. We are diggers for buried treasures. We are beachcombers, collecting seashells. We are constellations shining in the firmament.

Once their pens hit the paper, and they do without exception, I watch them swim out. I wave to them, but they are too engrossed to notice. It’s a blessed silence. Nothing exists, but the movement of arms stroking through and legs paddling. They will return with a piece of light wrested out of the darkness.

When we go around the room and read out loud our finds, there are no comments. Only what we can’t suppress, a sigh or spontaneous applause. Everything is precious for what it tells us about our journey, what it illuminates, what message it smuggles back from the soul.

1 comment:

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