The creative path is a mysterious thing.
In the universe of potential outcomes, I’ve discovered that an idea can spring out of nothing and lead nowhere. But, more often than not, like a hummingbird on a mission it takes flight to somewhere and lands somewhere else. It’s really an associative process of linking one idea to another.
Often this odyssey is driven by a sensory experience. Maybe it’s a familiar scent (like fresh-mowed grass) or sound (like the coo of a dove). Or a compelling image, such as a trail of hidden stairs. Or a winding creek rambling through nature with no end in sight. Or a defined space on a windy day with a few options to pursue toward a final destination.
As I writer, I’ve learned that I am at my best when I am open to all of these eventualities and possibilities. In other words, it’s better to say “yes” to an idea and let it simmer than to say “no” outright to something that might become something more.
I suppose you could call this my creative philosophy. It led me to write four memoirs and–more recently–a book of poetry. All of these are the result of committing to the practice of writing frequently. Often, I find myself composing words in my head while I’m swimming or exercising. Then, a few hours later, they travel to my fingers and land on a page as a story or poem.
One thing’s for sure. I know my life would feel relatively empty if I could never write again.
Back in January, Marc–the artistic director for the Phoenix Gay Men’s Chorus (PHXGMC)–asked if I would develop the stories and dialogue for five fictionalized LGBTQ characters. The script would provide the framework for the chorus’ June 2023 concert, Born To Be Brave.
If you follow my blog, you know I sing with PHXGMC and have written lyrics for the chorus in the past. Both the singing and the lyrical adventure have proven to be exhilarating creative experiences. So, I immediately said “yes” to Marc’s request, and knew this new challenge would stretch me in unfamiliar ways.
Sitting before my laptop, I began to create these five individuals–composites of people I have known. With time and nurturing, they began to represent the joys, fears, hopes, dreams, uncertainties, and triumphs of what it means to be gay, bi, or transgendered living in 2023.
In March (after numerous drafts, edits and tweaks), I finalized the script for the concert. In the process, five fully defined and diverse characters–Les, Bry, Q, Gregory, and Toni–were born on the page. Since then, the roles have been cast. Rehearsals are running full tilt.
On Saturday and Sunday June 3 and 4, Les, Bry, Q, Gregory, and Toni will take the stage. They will tell their stories and connect the music at Tempe Center for the Arts.
That weekend, I will be singing with the chorus. From my tenor-two position somewhere on stage, I will watch with wonder as five other chorus members embody the five characters. They will bring them to life, tell their stories, sing their songs, and shape their journeys in their own personalized ways.
What a mysterious, organic, and fulfilling creative path this has become. With every step forward, it is leading me to places I never imagined. And, ironically, I’m discovering this new fertile ground in the desert in my sixties.