I’d experienced something like this years ago, on a trip to India. I was inside the Tomb-Shrine of Avatar Meher Baba, placing my head against the cool marble and—once again, in a flash—a story came to me. A complete story, with a beginning, middle and end. I didn’t think about it, my wandering mind didn’t dream it up, it was just there, the entire thing unfolding instantaneously. Over time, that story evolved into Seekers Into The Mystery and, given the themes of that series, a hill in India was the perfect place for the idea to manifest.
These are the moments that writers (well, this writer) live for. Moments when it becomes clear that we’re not really the authors of our work: we’re channels, tuning into another frequency, another dimension, and bringing that information down into the physical world, where—using the tools, the talents and perspectives that are uniquely ours—we transcribe and embellish that information, transforming it into that wonderful creature called a Story.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the transmission is instant or unfolds slowly, it’s the opening up that’s so magical. That moment of realizing that you’re connected to something so much bigger than yourself. I remember, years ago, when I was just beginning work on Moonshadow, standing in the shower—mouth open, eyes glazed, still as a statue— watching the ending of the series play out on the movie screen of my psyche. Make no mistake: I didn’t create the scene, I just witnessed and transcribed it. That truth hit me with even more impact a few months later, when I was working on Moonshadow #3. The first two issues of Moon were, at that point in my career, the best writing I’d ever done; they were so good, in fact, that I was terrified the third issue would be a total disaster, proving to the world that the my success had been a fluke, that I was a talentless charlatan. And that’s almost what happened.
I worked that story so hard I nearly beat it to death, but, within a few pages of the end, I had the sickening realization that what I’d written just didn’t work. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make it work. What did I do then?
I gave up.
Not willingly, not happily, maybe not even consciously; but however it happened, I spent several days collapsed on the floor, cursing the gods and trying to figure out how I was going to explain to my editor that I was quitting comics and committing myself to a mental asylum (which, come to think of it, is where a good part of that Moonshadow issue took place). And then, one morning, still sprawled out on the floor like a perfect idiot, my mind an absolute blank, there it was, unspooling like a film: a haunting, graceful sequence with Moon and the spirit of his dead aunt that lead, with equal grace, to the culmination of the story. That was when I understood, in a way I never had before, that the only way to truly create is to allow the unconscious (and all the realms beyond it that enter through that door) free reign. Surrender to Story is like surrender to God: you can’t fake it, either you do it or you don’t; but, if you do, the results, in both cases, will be miraculous.
I’d love to tell you that I can open this doorway to the miraculous at will, but it doesn’t work that way. It functions very much like Divine Grace—with an elegant, sometimes infuriating, whim of its own; but when it arrives, I welcome it. No, I revel in it. Which is why I’ve learned not to be afraid of those moments—and they still come with alarming frequency—when it seems my story is collapsing all around me: I know now that the chaos is just a prelude. That my unconscious is tuning into something far beyond me, something huge and unfathomable and yet as intimate as a kiss.
© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis