This post has been formatted to reflect an original journal entry.


A cool, rainy afternoon and the end of a busy week. The highlight: seeing Lindsey Buckingham live in concert. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned previously that Fleetwood Mac is my all-time favorite band. Or how over the moon I was (and I was ridiculously giddy) to be able to see my favorite guitarist up-close-and-personal. Lindsey Buckingham. Y’all. He’s so electrifying. To watch him perform Big Love sent a terrific wave of shivers up my spine. Newer songs were fantastic, too. And, his recently released solo anthology is an indispensable collection. But, enough swooning. Because I clearly still have stars in my eyes…

Came across a quote of his that, though simple, was quite provocative and got me reflecting on my own creativeness:

I’ve always believed that you play to highlight the song, not to highlight the player. The song is all that matters. – Lindsey Buckingham

The sentiments resonated immediately. As writers and bloggers, we work similarly. Focus should be on the work. Always on the work. Making the work meaningful, impactful, substantive, polished. Able to stand on its own. But, how easy it is to focus on myself sometimes. To want to publish only those pieces that feel comfortable. That minimize my own propensity to flinch, the anxieties of experimentation, of tapping into one’s own visionariness.

And, I’ve noticed two things happen: 1.) the more original my work seems (to me), the more uncomfortable, on one hand, it makes me, and 2.) the more I feel intuitively that it is somehow right. I know instantly when a poem hits the mark. When I’ve delved and refined and tweaked and rearranged until my sensibilities tell me it is as it should be. But, if I detect inauthenticity in my own voice, a trying too hard, forcing an idea or an image that doesn’t reflect the full breadth of meaning I intend to convey, then everything in me rebels against it. All wrong. I usually pick it apart and harvest the good metaphors for later use.

A related observation: I have an exceedingly difficult time writing poetry for poetry’s sake. I want to, or need to, write a poem isn’t proper motivation for me. Voice meanders. Rings false. Manufactured. Something I can feel very forcefully on an intuitive level. Rather, I have to have something to say. When I have something to say, my inner voice leads. Creates out of its own momentum. Musicality follows naturally. Images pour from one into another. Like letting my subconscious do all the footwork. A generative process. That’s when good things happen. That’s when I can let go of a work despite its imperfections, knowing that I still have so much to learn. Because my intuition tells me in a swift, unhesitating sort of way that it’s right. It just is. At least, for now. And, I don’t doubt it.

Another thought: I must always feel I have a great deal more to learn. A notion I’ve carefully considered. And, not because I have a perfectionistic streak. (I do.) But, because of a sense of my own potential. There are moments in which I can sense very keenly that I am capable of a great deal more. When I am driven by a desire to work to the edges to my talents. Because I believe it’s possible. I can almost see it. These moments are usually brought on by the joy of creation. Little ecstasies. When I revel in a sense of my own possibility. (Is it an illusion? A mini peak experience? A byproduct of being an outlier on the openness to experience scales?) A sobering undertone: I have so much more to learn.

Additionally, I don’t really think of myself a poet. I’m just me. Working at what comes naturally. But, wishing—always wishing—very powerfully to do something different. Something that someday might be considered visionary. Because I crave something different. I feel restless in that way. Sometimes, I really do envision the world, including the literary establishment (and a great deal of mainstream music, too), as I expressed it in Flo On, as a stale word. Tired. And, I’m tired of it. Its sameness. Why I love interacting with other bloggers, indie authors, and creatives. Those with wild hair. I have to create, if only for myself, that proverbial shot in the arm. To write what I want to see written. To be the voice I need to hear.

A concluding thought: I tend to view my own creativity through a holistic lens. Just as Maslow suggested it (I’ve been busy re-reading parts of The Farther Reaches of Human Nature as I eagerly wait for my copy of Motivation and Personality to arrive).

Anything that would help the person to move in the direction of greater psychological health or fuller humanness would amount to changing the whole person. This more fully human, healthier person would then, epiphenomenally, generate and spark off dozens, hundreds, and millions of differences in behaving, experiencing, perceiving, communicating, teaching, working, etc., which would all be more ‘creative.’ He would then be simply another kind of person… – A. H. Maslow

I’m just me. And, because I am fully engaged in the pursuit of being just me (not an inactive state by any means), “poet” follows naturally, as do multiple other roles, states, and behaviors. A question: is the reverse, at any time, possible? That is, can I use my creativity to actually change myself? He’s suggested it. And, based on my personal experience, I certainly believe it. Perhaps, the key is becoming a certain kind of person first. That is, one must have reached a level of being at which one’s creativity is an adequate, even desirable, tool for fostering growth and self-development. Yes. That sounds more like it.

13 thoughts on “Footwork

  1. This post moved my mind in several directions simultaneously, and I hope you don’t mind that I share some of the images that came to mind as I read: first I imagined myself writing in my own journal, immersed in an introspective experience, and then I pictured you (whom I have never met) moving dirt around with a shovel to create space – that I thought of as inner space – where you could do your creative work, a sort of sacred space. Happy reading when your new book arrives!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you! I am, sadly, about at the end of Maslow. (Not sure who to read next.) I love the image of me (whom you’ve never seen) with a shovel. So very appropriate. I love even more that you envision yourself as a reader and an active part of the process. I always hope that posts like this one aren’t just about me, but that they also encourage readers (other creatives, in particular) to examine their own inner processes accordingly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gem!!! This post mirrors a creative crisis I went through in September. IN THE END I DECIDED TO BE HONESTLY ME. Being around things that boost my creativity, staying positive and self compassionate have fostered positive change for myself and creativity in general. One thing I’m grateful for is deciding to own, share my quirkness, colors and thoughts. About the fan girling..I can relate. My accepted application to volunteer for Lagos International Poetry Festival has me in my feelings. LIPFest is West Africa’s 1st and biggest poetry festival, While I began packing for law school today I played with outfit ideas for #LIPFest I’ll get to meet my favorite poets, book bloggers, artistes and creatives in person!! PS: i know I’ve said a lot but thank you for growing and being your authentic selves. Its what makes your work amazing Gem. Enjoy your weekend

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you so much for commenting on this! I did something very similar with this blog. When I started it, I promised myself this would be the place where I could hang out and be myself totally and honestly–quirks, talents, weirdness, included–and it’s pretty fantastic. I love that you’ve made the same observations about your own experience in fostering a better relationship with yourself and cultivating your creativity. I am convinced these and other factors come together to evolve our consciousness and help us be more creative people (or, rather, more creative in a positive, innovative way) in ways that we can’t even fathom…As for the outfit thing…girl, I had three potential concert outfits laid out on my bed to try on that night. You know, just in case. 😉 Also, that poetry festival sounds like a great event. Thanks again for the kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know right! Assessing growth, stagnancy and regression is paramount. I’m currently laying out handbags and backpacks. After flipping through pictures of my past natural hairstyles. I settled for a new afro wig..I’ll be closing late and resuming early to wear my hair out. Best to leave it protected and moisturized. On the other hand I’m worried the Lagos heat and humidity will make me sweat buckets under a large, soft, afro. But I’ll be fine. I’m writing a series titled, ‘my Lipfest ’18 Volunteer Experience’ on the blog. I have one entry published. You can check it out. You are welcome!!!


      2. I agree. Ugh, dealing with heat and humidity is such a nuisance (summers get very hot where I live, too). Hair issues, makeup issues…well, enjoy it! And, I’ll be sure to check out your posts!

        Liked by 1 person

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