BOOKS ....... FREE STORIES ....... TALES OF TAM YS ....... ARCHIVE ....... EDITING ....... SARAH

holding space for the wild spirits

I don't really like to do things. I am the one you will find sitting under a tree, in the shade, on the sidelines, while everyone else is having fun. You may think I am sad or pathetic, but watching is my preferred way of participating. (Either that or quietly wandering about appreciating nature and taking story notes or photographs.)

I have quiet energy. A receptive energy. Sitting there on the sidelines, I am not just being a bystander. I am opening my heart to what is happening, and experiencing it in stillness.

I write the same way - not working towards a story goal, but opening my heart, letting story enter. All too often I forget this though, and spend days, weeks, even months, searching and trying and drafting, in an effort to build story. It never helps me. Only when I literally sit back and realign my energy to reception, to witnessing rather than doing, can my creative process truly begin.

It's not really surprising that I forget this. Sometimes I think everyone else in the whole world has an active energy force. All the advice, encouragement, conversation surrounding writing is about things you can do. Elizabeth Gilbert spoke about receiving inspiration from the genius or muse, but then she also spoke about it being a two-sided process, and about doing the work whether the muse turns up or not. I wish there was more discussion about receiving, rather than actively and intently writing, a story. But then, maybe I am the only one who works like this.

All the stories in The Coracle Sky were written passively - which is to say, they pretty much wrote themselves. I don't mean they were channelled. I offer no certain explanation, except perhaps an idea that stories have their own spirits which they like to share. Or, more prosaically, perhaps this is just how I engage best with my own subconscious. (I create most of my blogposts this way too.)

It isn't necessarily an easy process. Receptive energy requires clean space (inside and outside of the self) and harmonising and time. I've found that certain foods can block it. Pain can block it. Weariness, worries, the wrong wind direction - so many things can get in the way of opening your heart and trusting to the wild spirits of story. I wrote Driftways in a fairly short time during which I did almost nothing else except type. When it came to Deep In The Far Away, I did a lot of begging and deep-breathing. This year, with this latest book, dedicating three solid months to writing was impossible. I left a lot in the hands of hope.

I believe so much of the trouble we have in our world these days is due to an imbalance of energies. Too many people think that doing is the answer to all our needs. They don't understand that witnessing, drawing in, holding the space, being the trust, is equally a valid and powerful way of experiencing life.


  1. yes. YES. being is as valid and necessary as doing. receiving attentively is as valuable as reaching for actively. holding space is as useful as filling it. sometimes i think the world is athirst for more participatory witness than for further *mucking about*...this is also my own native way of engaging with life, and it's a thing i have learned from being with animals and children, from being a mother. just sitting with is so profound; it's not that doing is bad, just that both are needed, and in balance.

    1. Yes, I do believe motherhood (especially combined with homeschooling) showed me just how valuable sitting with, witnessing, holding, hearing, are.

  2. WHat beautiful shots. I think the writing process is different for every single person.

  3. Believe it or not, I get it completely. In fact most of my go energy is new to me in later years, and then it still doesn't stretch all the way to being a participator, only to things I can do mostly alone.

    It's funny how you speak of writing like this, because I always felt this is how it happened. If I try and try and work at it, nothing comes out. But I tried anyway because I didn't receive anything either, so I thought I must be deluded and learn to work for a result (late lesson for me since school was too easy and boring). I know exactly how it feels though, when it does flow, so I can't make myself push through in earnest, part of me is still just waiting. Exercises, prompts and morning pages - they seem so futile and irrelevant.

    I'd love for the world to learn to be quiet, so that I could sit back more without feeling guilty or needing to explain myself. ;-) I don't understand so many of the things that are supposedly important to other people. (the hype over the coming festive season as a good example) But I seem to hurt them if I say so.

  4. Beautiful. This is something that I am working on constantly...the trust that words will come. I try not to push the tide but to go with the ebb and flow and the pull of the moon. Thank you xxx

  5. I've heard and read people talking about the "flow" - always with the idea that you could jump into it like a river. Never worked that way for me. For me, it comes with the quiet. I may start writing - trying to find words, but then, by not forcing it, the ideas seem to form and the words come - but not always. You're right. It does need a clean space. I've never been able to describe it so well as you just did. Receiving. Excellent.


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