It came unbidden
Posted by Arlene Somerton Smith
At a meeting of the Canadian Authors Association last week, three local authors spoke about book promotions. As the evening progressed JC Sulzenko related the story of how her play (that later became a book) What My Grandma Means to Say came to be. She was in an airplane somewhere over the prairies when the words just flowed out of her pen.
“It came unbidden,” she said.
As she wrote the scenes, her rational brain tried to intervene. “Put in a narrator,” it proposed, logically. But the ink from the pen just wouldn’t take that shape.
JC described an experience shared by creators over the centuries. Artists like Michelangelo, William Blake and Stephen King all said the work comes through them, not from them.
When I hear artists, writers, poets, or any creator speak about how work comes to them “unbidden,” I pay attention.
And when I look closely at what flows through them, I invariably find that it touches on a life truth in a deep and meaningful way. JC’s play is about a boy who watches his grandmother with Alzheimer’s change from a world traveller and cookie baker to someone who cannot remember his name. For two years JC has been visiting schools, care facilities and festivals sharing the story and encouraging kids and families to talk about a life truth in a deep and meaningful way.
Take some time to notice the next time you hear someone say that a painting, sculpture, story, or poem came unbidden. Look for the life truth, and be grateful that the artist was willing and able to shut out that rational mind long enough to be a channel for something meaningful.
Tune in on Tuesday, January 17, at 1:00 p.m. (EST) to hear JC and Dr. Gordon Atherley discuss how What My Grandma Means to Say, the play and the storybook, can enable family discussions about Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia.