Dear Abbas !
Over the years I have come to the realization that I am happiest when I am writing and creating.
There was a time I used to experience creative rain. I would write a poem, a short story or an essay and then there was a long dry period. But in the last few years the rain has been transforming into a spring. That spring keeps on flowing day and night, weekdays and weekends. I no longer experience a ‘ writer’s block ’. Such a transformation took place after I became aware that although the creative process is related to our unconscious, yet we can learn to influence and guide it. I have read about psychotherapy patients who remembered their dreams regularly because they kept a daily diary to share them with their analysts. I thought if people could learn to have more control on their dreams then why could I not influence my own creative process, as they both originated from the same springs of unconscious. Over the years my unconscious mind and I became friends and started creating together. That is why my creative output has increased over the years.
During that journey I have also learnt a few things about myself. My creative journey has become a part of my self-discovery, self-awareness and self-actualization. I believe my creativity has helped me liberate myself and discover an adventurous lifestyle. It has made me become a better friend, a caring therapist and a happier human being.
Mornings are the best for me to write and create. I always have blank pages, pens and pencils lying next to my bed. I think about the project I am working on, the night before and when I wake up, I am ready to write. It seems as if my unconscious mind, my dear friend, is active even when I am sleeping. Like a research assistant he goes into the deep recesses of my past and collect all the relevant thoughts, ideas, images and references and then offers the significant homework in the morning as my creative breakfast. The last article I wrote was about one of my favorite writers, Anais Nin. When my friend Rashid Mughal, who also loves Anais Nin, asked me to share my impressions about Nin, I got inspired to write an essay about her life and philosophy. I kept on thinking about her diaries and interviews all evening before I went to bed. In the morning when I woke up and started writing, it was like a stream of consciousness and I was surprised to write nearly ten pages spontaneously. Afterwards I consulted her diaries, lectures and interviews and added a few quotations to prove my points. The whole process was so enjoyable. I was quite amused by Nin’s relationship to creativity as it seemed so similar to mine. I could identify with her, when she wrote,
‘ The white page for me is like a ski slope. I go absolutely mad. I go mad in stationary stores. Just to see beautiful paper gives me a desire to write.’
In the morning I feel as if my mind is like a blank page, ready to receive the mysterious gifts from the right side of my brain, from my unconscious mind, from my creative self.
If I do not receive any creative gifts, then I have books on the table that I read. For example after writing Nin’s article, I started reading Gandhi’s autobiography for my next project.
I like working on different projects at the same time, so that when I get tired or
bored with one, I can start the other one with renewed energy. These days I am
working on the following projects:
a, proofreading my book The Myth of the Chosen One, which is about serial killers and mass murderers.
B, doing research for my book From Holy War to Global Peace, my creative response to Afghan war. Although I have already written 150 pages but for the last part of the book, I want to read the biographies of Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mendella, who I consider the four messengers of Peace and Justice in the twentieth century. I chose these four as I realized that Gandhi was impressed by Tolstoy when he was a teenager. He used to write to Tolstoy and read his books to get inspiration. After Gandhi introduced his philosophy of non-violence in India, people from all over the world got inspired by that. One of them was Martin Luther King. Later on, Martin Luther King inspired Nelson Mendella. When I read the Nobel speech of Nelson Mendella, I was touched to read his compliments to Luther King. It was also interesting that before Gandhi started his struggle in India against the British Empire, he had lived in the land of Mendella, in South Africa and was influenced by the struggles on Asians in South Africa. Reading about those personalities will keep my creative juices flowing for a few months until I finish that project.
C, I am also trying to finalize my book The Art of Living in the Green Zone , a book based on my 25 years experiences as a psychotherapist. In that book I discuss the new concepts I have developed in my practice.
To improve my craft and the art of writing, I also got involved in translating world literature in Urdu. To do that I have to read the master pieces a few times and get in touch with the soul of writers. Such translations also inspire me with my own creative work. During translations if I am inspired to write my original piece then I put the translations on hold and do my own creative work. I am aware I can always come back to the translations, but I may not be able to catch the creative moment later on. My last project on translations was about Native Indian Literature. When Asif Furrukhi, a well respected writer and editor from Pakistan was visiting Canada, I shared with him the translation of Chief Seattle’s speech. He was so impressed by the translation and the speech, he asked me if I would consider doing some more translations, so that he could bring out a special issue on Native Indian Literature. He told me that writers in Pakistan had translated European, Middle Eastern and South American literature in Urdu but nobody had translated Native Indian Literature. I promised to do that and completed the project in a few months.
Over the years I have developed friendship with a number of creative people all over the world. I call them the family of my heart. After finishing my first drafts, I share my creative products with my creative friends via email. They are very thoughtful and send me their sincere and honest comments and criticisms that help me in finalizing the draft. I am lucky to have a number of such friends who are co-travelers of my creative journey. They feel that writing and commenting on my creations, also inspires them to complete their own projects.
I am usually involved in joint projects with my creative friends, as I believe that one and one make eleven. In creative friendships people bring out the best in each other. These days I am involved in the following projects.
A, I am exchanging letters with my dear friend Betty Davis and sharing our philosophy, personal and professional experiences about Love, Sex and Marriage.
B, I am involved in writing screen-plays for television with my friend Dennis Isaac.
When some of my creative friends are creating poems or stories or essays and want to discuss them with me I feel honored and privileged. These days my friend Sandra Manuel is writing wonderful poems and I find it inspiring to read them and give her an honest feedback. It is nice to see friends grow to their fullest creative potential.
I am also lucky to work with Anne Aguirre who is not only a wonderful nurse but
also a sincere friend. We have intellectually stimulating discussions at lunch on a
regular basis. Dialogues with her has helped me formulate and articulate my
After working in my clinic for a few weeks and having a routine life, I take a week off to visit my creative friends and complete my incomplete projects. When I leave home to go on a trip, I get a creative boost. My creative juices start pouring with more enthusiasm. While I am at the airport, or in the plane or visiting friends in distant lands, or sitting on a beech on an island, I can review the last few weeks and plan the next few weeks. Such a review is like a landing space after going up the stairs. After a few stairs we need a little stop, to recover and to regain more energy. I have realized that creative journey is like a marathon run. That is why I use turtles as a metaphor in my practice. They are slow, but they travel a long distance, live long lives and become successful in the end. The fast runners like the hare usually fall asleep, lose interest and lose the race. I was always impressed by those artists who received the Oscar award for their life-long achievements rather than one time performance.
I have observed that many serious writers in any field did not just leave one or two creative products behind, they were known for their body of work.
I am gradually realizing that my personal, social and professional lives are becoming integrated. I am as enthused to write about my professional experiences, as I am excited to share my personal encounters. It is also amazing that after creating collections of poems, stories and essays, these days I am enthused to write in the form of letters. Writing letters to friends on serious subjects is my newest form of expression. I think it is the most spontaneous expression. I feel at home. It gives me an opportunity to be fully myself. I find it the best combination of form and content that suits my personality and temperament. Reading diaries of Anais Nin and letters of Vincent van Gogh have made me realize that diaries and letters deserve as much serious attention in literature as poems, short stories and novels. Writing letters to my friend Betty and my nephew Zeeshan sharing my views about the subjects close to my heart have broadened my creative horizons.
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.
I feel so fortunate that my creative rain transformed into creative spring. I hope it keeps on flowing till the day I die and my creations help others to get in touch with their own creative selves, creative springs, and creative truths. Affectionately Sohail