Part of the process of re-discovering my creativity, and writing a whole book, is that I’ve had to learn a lot about how all this happens. Not just the practicalities of book publishing, I mean – although that’s been fascinating. But I have had to learn how a book forms itself into an entity, and I’ve watched my own creativity at work.
I went from the quiet terror of oh-shit-I-have-six-months-to-get-fifty-odd-poems-to-publication-standard-what-on-earth-have-I-got-myself-into? to the utter incredulity of how-on-earth-did-this-happen?, standing in front of a bunch of people at my own book launch. And while I’d like to say I know exactly how it happened, how this written entity was formed, I don’t. I watched its theme and structure form itself in my head. Each poem created itself on the page, right there in front of me. I was in charge of the words, of the language and the choice of metaphor and simile, and it wasn’t as though I didn’t work hard, but even as my mind was occupied by technical details, the poems themselves took on their own form and structure as I watched, almost passively. The poems knew what they wanted to be: all they needed was for me to provide them with the paper and the ink.
And it struck me that this is intuition at work. If there’s one thing I learned from writing the book, it’s the strength of my creative intuition. That capacity beyond rational thinking, that I can’t quite put my finger on, which allowed me to hear what the poem wanted to become. Which helped me to know when to wrestle with the poem to pin tit down, and when to let it mull itself over and form itself in its own time. Which enabled me to trust the poem in front of me, to let it find its own being.
It’s my intuition, too, that saved me: my actions on Emancipation Day, that day of flight and freedom from the danger of my marriage, were unplanned and based entirely on gut instinct. Without reasoning, without rationality, I knew I had to leave, and that I had to leave that very day. I knew without thinking about it what I needed to do; just as the poems formed themselves on the page, just as the book’s structure grew into its own reality without conscious effort from me, my escape plan formed itself in front of me, and it was that – my sudden unthinking realisation of the path out of darkness – to which I owe the book, and to which I owe my life.
I have intuition. I’m more than just rationality. I feel like I’ve gained a whole extra half of a person.
Maybe that particular half will make me taller.