When I am writing, connecting to “the flow,” I feel like I am creating a masterpiece. Words come to me with lightning speed, and my fingers move furiously across the keyboard as if I’m Chopin composing his “Revolutionary Etude.” When it’s done, I sit back and review the brilliance I’ve created, savouring every word. Every sentence is like butter. The pieces come together perfectly like the ingredients in the best fudge I’ve ever tasted. It is my best work ever—every time. A true masterpiece.
Then two days pass. I read it again, and my world comes to a crashing halt. I’m no longer reading my masterpiece by the soft glow of the mood lighting that surrounded it’s creation. Instead, it’s been thrust into the bright sunshine of reality, and every flaw is highlighted—every wrinkle and blemish jumping off the page, robbing me of the reality I’d experienced just two days before. Again, fingers working furiously, I try to repair the crumbling masterpiece—writing and re-writing the words until they bother me just a tad less. When I’ve had enough, I simply sigh and think, “It can’t be that bad.”
Two more days pass, and I pick up the piece again…but it doesn’t feel like me anymore. It almost feels like I am reading something someone else wrote. But here’s the thing: it’s brilliant. I read and smile as I picture the piece being taught in some literary course decades down the road--every sentence deconstructed as the professor tries to figure out what was going on in my head as the words spilled out onto the pages. As the day goes on, passages from the masterpiece flash through my memory, and I smile. I even giggle, and the love for the piece comes back. It is the best thing I’ve ever written.
Two days later the work is printed and printed again, then stuffed into my work bag to be transported to my writing group. It’s time to share the masterpiece. Time for the world to hear the words strung together like words have never been strung together before— to hear the beautiful masterpiece that had rolled off my fingers. And when it’s my turn to read…
I get half way through and suddenly wonder what the heck I was thinking. It sounds nothing like it was supposed to. The sentences are awkward and make no sense. Who I was fooling that I am actually a writer? I’m just an ordinary person throwing some ink on paper. But then…
They all loved it! They said the story carried them through the unexpected; the end shocked them and made them laugh, just as I’d intended. It feels like being rehired for the job you quit because you thought you were terrible at it, except the second time around you realized that you really got it. I felt centered again, but this time I just knew that feeling would never go away because I had been successful at telling a story.
The irony, though, is that the feeling does go away. It goes away the second I stare at a new blank sheet of paper. I can’t help wondering, “Will I ever be able to do that again?” But then the words come to me once more. They come rushing out of that magical place where my heart and brain intersect, and I begin to compose again—another true masterpiece.