December 2nd, 2008

Ferry Wake

Process and Product -- 1

It's been a long time since I've been a reliable blogger, but I'm jumping back in with a post that will be the first in a series exploring the horrors (and occasional gleam) of process (as it looks & feels to me).

We hear often, from the experts, that it's all about the process.

The journey.
The gettin' there.

Not just writing, but life, too.

This isn't always easy to swallow.

We want to believe that there's an endpoint that will make the fear and self-loathing and doubt and effort and second-guessing not just 'worth it' but 'gone'.  There's a self-protective desire to be knocked out for the tough stuff and wake me when it's over. We want to skip ahead to product. To success. Fame and fortune. The finish line.

Or do we?

What's occurred to me lately is that if I wish away process, I'm wishing away the better portion of my days.
Better, as in larger.
But also better. As in, more good.

Because really, is there anything more good than getting into the zone -- working your way through the fear and self-loathing and doubt and effort and second-guessing, and getting into the zone? Logic disappears, logistics vanish, time suspends, fingers race. And somewhere in the midst of that dreamy, muse-driven floatiness your brain says, "I'm onto something here." That is pretty sweet.

I'm thinking specifically about writing, but really, isn't there a mama zone and a runner's zone and a teaching zone and a gardening zone and, well, you get the idea.

Isn't there?

Which makes me think, "There are no short cuts to the finish line and thank god."

Plus, even those moments (which are many) that don't qualify for dreamy, muse-driven or floaty, even those all feed who I am and what I do, such that not a single line of poetry or a story idea would have legs or hold water if I hadn't done what I did to get there.

So, I no longer wish process away.
But I still try to manage it.
Because the arbitrary, unscheduled, unpredictable riskiness of the artistic process is something akin to tightrope walking.
I think.
Although I don't know for sure, because I'm too scared to try. If you see what I mean.

So, how do I manage process so I can enjoy it a little and not just bite my nails and beg someone to institutionalize me? 
More on that tomorrow...