On Moths and purpose and creative process and such

Metamorphosis: a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism,
as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the moth.

If you know me or if you visit my blog,

You know that I have been working on a play.

I am in my moth stage now.

After months as a pupa,

I emerged from my cocoon but–

now I am flitting around

crashing into the walls.

Is this what all that hanging upside down was for?

Ok. So anyway–

Welcome to the moth stage.

This is the part of the creative process

where the artist asks herself

What the hell are you doing?

No really What are you doing?

Right?

Ever ask yourself what the hell a moth is doing?

Well they do have a purpose.

It’s a biologically determined drive,

to accomplish an essential task.

But it’s not always obvious,

especially when you have to chase one around

your room at two in the morning.

Poor misguided moth is just trying to fullfill

it’s destiny and achieve it’s purpose.

But Moths aren’t supposed to be in your house.

They are like butterflies–and are supposed

to be outside in the natural world,

pollinating various night blooming vegetation.

Yet they some how manage inadvertently to end up in our closets–

making meals out of our favourite cashmere sweaters.

And we hate them for it.

Poor misguided moth.

She’s just trying to fulfill her purpose.

Moths and the nocturnal plants they feed on–

like the Honeysuckle flower or the Red Valerian–

can’t live without each other.

Miraculous nature has provided the moth

with dextrous long thin tongues–

an attribute completely wasted on wool sweaters,

but very important in pollinating night blooming

flowers. The moth is always looking

for the flowers. The flowers are always waiting

for the Moth. See what I mean about destiny?

So what in the world am I talking about?

And what does this have to do with my play?

Well–the moth stage of the creative process

is when the writer-

-that would be me in this case–

is madly searching for the flower but can not find it.

I’m madly flying up at that light bulb and singeing my wings.

The flower is the essence or the meaning– or the soul of the work.

I’t’s the inexplicable thing that blooms in the mind of the audience

or the reader. It’s the truth of the work.

I need to find it.

It can’t bloom without me.

There is no art without this relationship.

See. I believe this.

So there you go–

That’s the Moth state.

I saw a play recently that had no soul essence or meaning

and yet I know the young writer probably believed it did.

It was timely. And it seemed to delve into a solid and important question.

But it was trite and obvious.

She didn’t go through the moth state.

Nothing unfolded or bloomed or revealed itself.

It needed a moth.

The Moth state can drive you mad and you can end up

in a drawer pollinating your socks.

But it leads you to the thing that the story is about.

It leads you to the thing that makes the audience

sigh or cry or ache or laugh in recognition–

or even just connect to your idea at a deep level–and engage.

Because this is the purpose of art.

That is what we are trying to do

Kandinsky puts it very well–

“The artist must have something to say,

mastery over form is not his goal,

but adaption of form to its inner meaning”

My play has a deep truth in there somewhere.

I know it.

I feel it.

I am drawn to it.

I am shaken by it.

I have come close to finding it–

But I haven’t yet.

Not quite.

Now it’s dusk and that’s when Moths get busy.

So hopefully tonight–

Hopefully I will find the flower that is waiting to bloom in my play.

4 Replies to “On Moths and purpose and creative process and such”

  1. Oh my lord! I laughed out loud at your metaphorical angst. Pollinating socks? so funny! Not to make fun of your struggles but your voice, as you struggle is so lyrical and wonderful and poetical. Good grief! Bring up your play next time we meet! I will read 2 minutes and give you some direction and you can bang into that wall, or at least I can blow you away from the lightbulbs and out the door, for awhile, for sure. I love so much of that piece and can see it on stage. We just need more time together!

  2. What I like about this post, and your writing in general is your dedication to a theme or an idea that you grab up, twist around, sit on for a few minutes and pick it up again from another angle, just to look at it with fresh eyes.

    1. Thank you Jordan.
      I am mostly a song writer you know.
      So what you say makes sense to me.
      Now I am trying to teach myself how to be a playwright.
      The blog just keeps me remembering that is what I am doing.

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