Behind Our Eyes, The Creative Home Thrives

Behind Our Eyes, The Creative Home Thrives

I’ve written before about James Taylor’s song It’s Enough To Be On Your Way, my personal anthem. Because sometimes we need one to fuel our plans, execute the promises we make to ourselves, and along the way enjoy the ride. The anthem doesn’t have to spring like mine from someone else’s words. It can spring from your own. What matters is the vision of a road up ahead–the future. Life can be lived more fully if each hour of the day burns and glows with usage, and yet allows reflection and a glance at the possibilities in the next one.

For three days I attended what the leaders of Women’s Fiction Writers Association called a writer’s retreat. It included time to be at the keyboard or to have a pen in hand, yet it also encouraged time to talk to others who are all on a similar journey. There were discussions on the nuts and bolts of the writing process–creation, editing, publishing. But the strength of the very concept of gathering sixty writers together who write women’s fiction, was to aid in the process of “building behind your eyes.”

Yes, writers, painters, artists in a medium, and truly anyone who creates by raising or helping, caring for or working with other people knows that ideas often need fertile ground. Behind their eyes, researchers need time to process what they have culled, so that the ideas that prove a thesis begin to form an argument. “Behind the eyes” burn the concepts and ideas that we hope to work with during the creative process–and as James Taylor writes: it’s where thoughts thrive, it’s their home.

Singing oh, it’s enough to be on your way,
it’s enough just to cover ground, it’s enough to be moving on.
Home, build it behind your eyes, carry it in your heart, safe among your own.

When I think of building behind my eyes the world that lives in my fiction, this concept extrapolates from Taylor’s song, but here is the solid story of what fueled it. Taylor’s older brother Alex died of alcoholism on Taylor’s birthday. Though the song refers to an aging hippie chick named Alice, it’s a lament for his brother. Taylor says: “In Paris, a year later I changed his character…and the location to Santa Fe; but my soulful older brother is still all over this song like a cheap suit.”

The home where my fiction lives, where it grows and feeds my characters behind my eyes, could echo what Taylor is lamenting with his brother’s death, the loss of part of home as Taylor thinks of it. He says: “Consensus, just the sense of connection with other people, feels so great, and it motivates an awful lot of what we do. The more successful or thwarted you are as an isolated individual, the more you need reconnection.” YES!

Creativity in your life work, in your life relationships–in the simplest things you do to bring an idea or image to life–thrives in your brain, in your thoughts. That’s where it lives; that is its home. And on days when the clouds seem to cover the sun and life is duller or harder to embrace for whatever reason–it’s great to move into your imagination. To cover some ground (write a letter to a lonely person, prepare a special meal for your family, perform the chore someone has been begging you to do) — or escape into your own creative project or someone else’s by reading, looking at art, listening to music, strolling through an amazing garden.

What you build behind your eyes can even help you deal with the sorrows in life–as it helped Taylor when he mentioned his brother at the very beginning of the song:

So the sun shines on his funeral just the same as on a birth,
the way it shines on everything that happens here on Earth.
It rolls across the western sky and back into the sea
and spends the day’s last rays upon this fucked-up family, so long old pal.

Though our days are full of repetitive motions that keep life going, the ability to find at least one hour each day to build something behind the eyes, to utilize the human power of creativity–can mean the difference between a life devoid of color and one that responds with excitement, one that sparkles, keeps us moving on our way and provides that home in the heart.

Oh, it’s enough to be on your way,
it’s enough to cover ground, it’s enough to be moving on.
Home, build it behind your eyes, carry it in your heart, safe among your own.

Thanks over and over, James Taylor.

Thanks to: Nichole LaPorte Katz • colored pencils nl2013- inspired by “The Host”, by Stephanie Myers

16 thoughts on “Behind Our Eyes, The Creative Home Thrives

  1. Thank you for my morning dose of inspiration – I needed to hear this! I haven’t heard the song, but will have to look it up as the lyrics you shared really speak to me.

    • Hi Laurel, thanks so much. It’s a song that’s been around for a long time. Yo Yo Ma actually plays the cello on the track! Beth

  2. This is so beautiful. I didn’t know the story of this song. It’s so important to have a creative outlet and to be able to spend time to nurture it. I find that the older I get, the more I need that and I see it in my friends as well. People I never knew had any particular talents or interests are suddenly turning up as artists or photographers or writers and it’s so awesome to see them bloom. We all need a creative outlet.

    • Love this, Katy. Life can be fulfilling on so many levels, but when it allows more time for creativity I think we enjoy all that the earth has to offer and often we find what we do helping others. Thanks.

  3. Hi Beth! This is a lovely, thoughtful post filled with lots of deep ideas. I so agree that the creativity of us all “lies behind our eyes” and having the courage, patience and intention to bring it all to light is something every artist must face. And yes, as you and James Taylor put it, just taking one step at a time and moving in that direction is “enough.” ~Kathy

    • Thanks, Kathy. I think we all attempt to reveal our dreams in some way, whether it’s a visual in our home decorating or a poem we write for a loved son or daughter or a big time novel. Creativity moves us to a higher level.

  4. Hi Beth, It sounds like the retreat was very restorative and rejuvenating. It’s often a struggle to let creativity take center stage over the demands of the daily required tasks, but I’m really trying to put that at the center on a regular basis. Thanks for this lovely post.

    • You are so welcome, Angela. Wishing you the best with your WIP. I’m going to work on my novel this afternoon and looking forward to it.

  5. It was a pleasure meeting you and so many other talented authors there. I love how you tied the song to the retreat and your thoughts.

    • Thanks, Travis. It was a pleasure meeting you and I really liked the section from your novel. Let’s both WRITE ON, Beth

  6. I am inspired by your words of wisdom, especially as a longtime fan of James Taylor. I would love to attend a workshop like this. It must have been so rewarding to chat with and learn from other writers, too.

    • Hi Helene,

      It was wonderful. If you write women’s fiction, we’d love to have you join. The support is awesome. And James is my troubadour, always will be. I was fortunate to see him in concert when I lived in Iowa. Take care, Beth

  7. Very inspiring! I would love to attend a workship like this. Creativity is so critical to my mental health! Thanks for uplifting my morning and jump starting my thoughts!

    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for your uplifting comments. I just got back from a writer’s workshop and I was inspired. Have a great day, Beth

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