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Writers are like mothers who experience the pains and ecstasies of creation from conception to delivery. They endure the labor pains. The primary difference is that mothers deliver babies while writers deliver books. The more I think about this subject the more I strongly feel that pregnancy is a great metaphor for creativity.
Every pregnancy starts with conception. To conceive a new idea, a new concept and a new story is so wonderful and exciting and awesome. It is like:
…the first drop of the rain
…the first snowfall of the winter
…the first bud of the spring
…the first date of a long love affair.
I always wondered where does a creative idea come from. Although it is writer’s own idea but it feels foreign as if it is revealed to him. It rises from the unconscious to the conscious mind and travels from the right to the left brain. That is why it feels as if it is a foreign idea. No wonder those writers who are religious believe it was delivered to them by an angel or a muse. Some even believe it was a divine revelation and they were blessed.
As time passes the idea, the concept or the story grows and becomes a poem, a play, an essay or a novel. But for that growth to happen the writer has to nurture the idea with his sweat and blood. The writer knows that for the pregnancy to reach full term he has to sacrifice many things in his personal, family and social life. He has to go for long walks or long drives or sit under a tree to meditate and introspect and reflect. He has to provide the idea the time and space to grow. His mind has to expand like the womb of the mother for the baby idea to grow. Mothers deliver babies after nine months in one piece but the writer has to deliver different parts of his book on a regular basis. That is why he needs a labor room. Virginia Woolf had suggested women writers to have a room of their own in their homes to deliver their books. The labor room can be a lonely corner in the home, in the office or in the library with a desk and a chair and a paper and a pen or a keyboard and a computer so that the writer can deliver a few words, sentences, paragraphs or pages every week.
As time passes the baby book grows and finally it is complete and ready to be delivered to the world. Some writers only share their poems and plays, essays and stories with their dear ones while others send them to the newspapers and magazines to be published and shared with a wider audience of strangers. The editors and publishers and distributors are the midwives and the obstetricians who deliver those creations to the world.
I have met many writers over the years that had the capacity to conceive but did not have the stamina to take it full term. That is why they had creative miscarriages. Their drawers were full of incomplete poems and plays and unfinished essays and stories. Many of them suffered from low self esteem and believed their creations were not good enough to be completed and shared with others. They were nervous of the reactions of the others. They were afraid of the critical judgments of others. They did not believe in the creative gift life had offered them. Unfortunately some of them retired from writing without completing a single book. Some published one or two books and were disheartened and frustrated as they did not receive overwhelming positive response they were expecting. They did not realize that a writer is more like a marathon runner than a one hundred meter sprinter.
Lucky are those writers who keep on producing books all their lives and their books are not only wonderful examples of creative expression but also creative communication as they touch other people’s hearts and find a growing circle of readers. Their creative products, their babies, their books, inspire other budding writers to write, create and publish. They gradually connect with a circle of writers who share their writings and inspire each other. Their books are even translated in other languages and build bridges between different communities, countries and cultures.
I feel very fortunate that as a teenager I was supported by my poet uncle Arif Abdul Mateen who encouraged me to keep on writing and not worry about the negative or critical comments of others. Over the years I found a circle of readers and creative friends who inspire me. Now we meet and write to each other regularly to share our creative writings, learn from each other and grow together. I feel lucky to have a spring of creative ideas flowing inside me for the last forty years. I sometimes wonder why I keep on creating and delivering a baby, a book, every year even in my fifties, while many of my contemporary writers stopped publishing books in their forties as if they had reached their creative menopause.
Writers are like mothers in one more way. They are both full of mysteries of creation.
Every writer gives a special meaning to his writings. When I asked myself, what does writing mean to me? I expressed my response in my diary in these words,
The more I write, the more I discover myself,
The more I discover myself, the more I share,
The more I share, the more I connect with others in a meaningful way,
The more I connect with others in a meaningful way,
the more I discover the secrets of making creative friends,
The more I discover the secrets of making creative friends,
the more I learn the art of growing together,
The more I learn the art of growing together,
the more I feel optimistic that our tomorrows
will be more meaningful and productive than our yesterdays.

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