Perhaps a year ago, I sat at an outside table at my favourite cafe in Newcastle (it’s called Ground Floor, the coffee is amazing, and they let me sit at one of their tables for hours most Sunday afternoons when I really don’t buy enough food to justify my long occupancy) and wrote a short story. The story was about St Peter, in the hours after making his famous denial of Jesus in the tumult and turmoil of his trial and execution. I wanted to tell the story from his point of view, to explore why he might have done such a thing, how he might have even begun to live with the weight of those words riding his conscience forever afterwards.
I never finished that story – I ran out of time that afternoon, and life got busy, and I never came back to it. It’s probably still sitting in a notebook somewhere. Apparently, it’s been sitting in the inner layers of my mind.
I think I might have mentioned on this blog, but at the moment I’m writing a book. It’s a poetry anthology, due to be published soon-ish (I’m still oscillating between incredulous disbelief and mindless terror), and it’s about death and resurrection. Partly it tells my story, of domestic violence and escape and healing (me, me, me – I am a soprano, after all!) but there are also poems about death and resurrection in nature and the passing of the seasons, and there are poems about the fundamental story of death and resurrection: the story of the execution of a travelling rabbi on a hill outside Jerusalem two thousand-odd years ago, and what happened three days later.
It occurred to me on Sunday while I was sitting in the choir stalls at the Cathedral (I was listening to the service, I promise!) that the short story I started writing a year ago might end up being a poem, but I didn’t know what that would look like. Then I got distracted, and the week has been overwhelmingly busy, and I never really followed the idea – until tonight.
I got the feedback, from someone whose opinions I trust implicitly, that the book’s a little light-on when it comes to poems about Holy Saturday – that day of loneliness and bleakness and grief and fear between the horror of Good Friday and the amazement and euphoria of resurrection on Easter Day. And all of a sudden, there was the short story that had apparently been biding quietly in my mind for all this time. And there, fully formed, was the poem which had murmured so fleetingly in my thoughts during Mass on Sunday.
I’m learning to trust my creativity, my intuition, in this process of writing. I’m learning to trust the narrative to unfold, the poetry to draw its own form. I’m learning to trust that sometimes my conscious, rational mind needs to take a step back, and to let creativity swirl in that space which exists beyond reason. I know it’s worth doing, and I know that capacity is strong enough to trust.
It’s still weird though.