Writing in Transit
As we fly 10,000 feet above the ground, I get the sudden urge to write. It hits me before tray tables are allowed down, so I tap my thoughts into my notes on my phone like a mathematician who has just solved a problem. (I keep so many random thoughts in there—some good; most terrible, but that’s a story for another day.)
Have you ever hit a stride so smooth like a high school track athlete rounding the last turn in a race? You can write for hours, and you can’t ignore it. The last thing you want to do is ignore it because you never know how long those legs will last. Writers know these bursts are as seldom as they are wonderful.
There’s a poet, Ruth Stone, who told writer Elizabeth Gilbert that poetry came to her as quick as lighting. Here’s an excerpt from Gilbert’s Big Magic, in which she writes about Stone’s process:
For Big Magic, Gilbert spent time researching the creative process. After Eat, Pray Love, she experienced some serious writer’s block and that sent her into a deep dive about creativity in general. One of many pearls she pulled from her research was about the Greek and Roman concept of genius. “The Greeks and the Romans both believed in the idea of an external daemon of creativity—a sort of house elf, if you will, who lived within the walls of your home and who sometimes aided you in your labors. The Romans had a specific term for that helpful house elf. They called it your genius—your guardian deity, the conduit of your inspiration. Which is to say, the Romans didn’t believe that an exceptionally gifted person was a genius; they believed that an exceptionally gifted person had a genius.”
This notion sat well with me. There’s no ownership over ideas. You don’t have an idea; it comes to you when you’re open and waiting. You’re not a genius; there’s a genius who happened to visit you one afternoon and dropped some magic in your office.
For me, high above the clouds, there must have been a genius floating through the stratosphere who just happened to reach me in my window seat. If I had opted for the aisle, who knows what would’ve happened.