Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Writing Demons and Daemons

Demon earthImage via Wikipedia
My writing demons and daemons are colliding this week, and the demons were winning.

But then this morning, Deborah Heiligman left this in my inbox: a video of Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) talking in 2009 about a new way to think of creativity. I had watched the video several times when it first came out, feeling the tingle of recognition of a philosophy that had been passed to me from my grandmother.  Man, did I need this reminder before I started working this morning! (Thanks, Deb!) Here Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the need to detach from our creativity - she calls for viewing creativity from an Ancient Greek or Roman lens - looking at creativity as something outside of ourselves, something God-like that is-not-us. The Greeks called them daemons, and the Romans called them geniuses. And how freeing that is. Because whether a book succeeds or fails, it is not wholly OURS.

This picture is a wonderful representation of how I feel when my demons have me in their clutches. I'm standing in the fire and my back is breaking from carrying the world on my shoulders. I'm going to drop it! All will be lost! The incessant marketing I seem to be doing for Edges still feels like I'm not doing enough, and at the same time,  so much focus has been on me, leaving room for my demons to whisper in my ear: Nobody's heard of you, this is all a pipe-dream, who do you think you are anyway, why didn't you become an electrician like your friend Jude? Or a nurse like Deirdre? You should just give up, get a "real" job.

And then there's my daemons, or the tiger Solomon (tattooed on my back - an unconscious homage to Phillip Pullman and His Dark Materials?), or God, that mystical experience of something that is not me but moving through me once and a while when I write. It's why I sit down, day after day. It came on Monday, briefly, and then again on Wednesday morning, but not since then. There is something almost paranormal in all of the messiness of writing. I have known that with every fiber of my being since childhood. And it's our adult demons that block us from our daemons.

I love my daemons, but I need to appreciate what I can learn about myself from my fears. They may be out in full force when I focus on "marketing", but there are joys as well, as you know. If I put my attention on the warmth of the notion of "community" instead of the coldness of "network" and "market", seeking to widen my community through social media,  my demons won't suck me into the abyss.

I am getting the hang of Twitter, I am pulling back from Facebook, and because of you, my cyber-friends, I have scheduled a trip to Richmond Virginia to visit Fountain Books in March (thank you Kristi!) and Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania to visit Barnes and Noble in April (thank you Alison!).

Breathe in daemon, breathe out demon.

And, as Jim says to Luke in Edges, "Life is too serious to be taken seriously." Lighten up!

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  1. YOU'RE COMING TO RICHMOND? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW EXCITED THIS MAKES ME? Hopefully putting this in all caps conveys something to that effect. ;)

    I watched that talk about a month or so ago and thought it was fantastic. Definitely a concept that I can embrace!

  2. Yes! I'm coming! We're gonna have lunch, or tea, or whatever you want! The event is scheduled for Tuesday, March 22nd at 6:30PM. Mark your calendar!

  3. Yay! Wonderful! Can't wait to see you! xoxo

  4. Maybe it is because it is February or something, but I think all of us are slogging through something.But whether we think of them as Daemons or Angels, they are out in full force. I love the Greek idea of the daemon, CS Lewis did too and made the connection that the Greek Kherub or cherubim shared the same root as Gryphon. :) Totem or Daemon, Angel or Cherubim--we do have help. I was reminded of this Rumi poem by a friend and thought it would help energize you, we hear your helplessness:

    A dragon was pulling a bear into its terrible mouth.

    A courageous man went and rescued the bear.
    There are such helpers in the world, who rush to save
    anyone who cries out. Like Mercy itself,
    they run toward the screaming.

    And they can't be bought off.
    If you were to ask one of those, "Why did you come
    so quickly?" he or she would say, "Because I heard
    your helplessness."

    Where lowland is,
    that's where water goes. All medicine wants
    is pain to cure.

    And don't just ask for one mercy.
    Let them flood in. Let the sky open under your feet.
    Take the cotton out of your ears, the cotton
    of consolations, so you can hear the sphere-music.

    Push the hair our of your eyes.
    Blow the phlegm from your nose,
    and from your brain.

    Let the wind breeze through.
    Leave no residue in yourself from that bilious fever.
    * * *
    Tear the binding from around the foot
    of your soul, and let it race around the track
    in front of the crowd. Loosen the knot of greed
    so tight around your neck. Accept your new good luck.

    Give your weakness
    to one who helps.

    Crying out loud and weeping are great resources.
    A nursing mother, all she does
    is wait to hear her child.
    Just a little beginning whimper,
    and she's there.
    God created the child, that is, your wanting,
    so that it might cry out,
    so that milk might come.

    Cry out! Don't be stolid and silent
    with your pain. Lament! And let the milk
    of loving flow into you.

    The hard rain and wind
    are ways the cloud has
    to take care of us.

    Be patient.
    Respond to every call
    that excites your spirit.

    Ignore those that make you fearful
    and sad, that degrade you
    back toward disease and death.

  5. The investigation of devils or video animation companies underhandedness spirits; likewise a branch of enchantment that arrangements with such creatures. In religious science it has come to show learning with respect to heavenly creatures that are not gods.