By Lis Anna-Langston My third year at a Creative and Performing Arts School, I came to a crossroads. Home was chaotic and I took up study at a Buddhist Temple. It wasn’t a decision of faith but a simple response to my environment. With a fine combination of new athletic shoes, city buses, and catching rides, I set out to learn a lesson in commitment. It was a lot of work for anyone, especially a Sophomore in high school to get up at 4:30AM to catch a bus but I took up the reigns of my new choice with profound enthusiasm. At the library I devoured ancient texts. I meditated on the meaning of nothingness, because, unlike the existential nothingness at home, I found something unique. I studied on buses and weekends, keeping up my pace. Making choices cleared my mind, gave me focus. In time I noticed my studies overlapped into my artistic work. What I learned from ancient texts applied to writing and being on stage. The same process I used to align myself with the universe was the same one I used in writing to go deeper into the material. The same path I took to a poem led to divine truths. These paths became interchangeable. Unique by design but more similar than I imagined. A magical place where art and philosophy intersected. An invisible border where commitment merged into trust. There are few things more exciting than watching inspiration at work in your life. Seeing all that come alive made me even more excited about processes that required a lot of work on my part. There weren't a lot of things I could trust in my life, but I started to see through the cracks. I had to learn to trust. Trust myself to know what I wanted. Trust the art of allowing. Trust myself to get the idea onto the page. Trust myself to dive into the raw draft. Trust myself to show up to the work every day. Trust that the final draft would be completely different than the first. Trust that every way is the right way. Trust I’m serving the work in ways I couldn’t have defined yesterday or the day before. It’s a hard concept for people to grasp. People want absolutes. They want to know. But art isn’t about knowing. Trust opens doors to beginnings and endings. It is the rope binding each part of the artistic process to the next. It’s the edge of the cliff, the beginning of an idea, the thing that lights our way, the thing that reflects back what we’re thinking and doing, the thing that catches us in midair. A paradox of paradoxes. Letting go of results shifts us into a position to trust. From inspiration to drafts to rewrites, trust becomes the key to open those doors. Write your truth is an empty phrase until you first learn to trust. I see now that commitment to writing practice shapes and hones art. Trust is a powerful tool for writers. The gateway from which all great ideas enter.
This post originally appeared on Columbia Writers Workshop Blogspot @ http://columbiawritersworkshop.blogspot.com/
A chapter of the South Carolina Writers Association